167, 168: Palatine IICapital Citybus bought the very first of the Volvo Olympians, at the end of 1993. They bought three buses with the new Northern Counties Palatine II bodywork: 166 was a Leyland Olympian, the only one with a Palatine II body, bought in March 1993, and 167-8, arriving six months later, were Volvos. All three were single-doored, wore Capital Citybus yellow livery with black window surrounds and red lining. They had "lucky" 888 registration marks.
All three went to Dagenham for the 296. Later they moved to Hackney Wick, and in early 2001 moved to Northumberland Park. Withdrawal came in February 2002. They spent a short time in store at Rainham before transfer on to First Huddersfield.
167 was still in yellow livery when glimpsed from afar at Stratford Bus Station in August 2000. It was working the 158.
239-249: Palatine I for 67After the initial pair of Volvo Olympians Capital Citybus seemed to be fully kitted out for a while with Dennis Dominators and Dennis Arrows as its standard double-deckers. It was not until 1996 that it returned to the Olympian, when it needed eleven new buses for route 67 (Wood Green - Aldgate). Northern Counties Palatine I dual-doorway bodywork was selected. They arrived in standard yellow livery, with red bands and black relief, and started work in August 1996 from Northumberland Park garage.
Route 67 passed to Stagecoach in April 2001, but route 263 was taken on as a short-term contract and kept these buses occupied until February 2002. Then the drift north started. Some went immediately to First Mainline in Sheffield, others followed in dribs and drabs. Others appeared on the 341, including 246, which was covered in gold vinyl in March 2002 for the Queen's Jubilee. It lost the gold in favour of Centrewest-style red livery at the end of the year. Other survivors of the class were repainted in First Capital red and yellow.
The six remaining in London in February 2004 (239-242 and 246-7)
were transferred then to Rainham, where they worked for a while on the 252 and 365.
Some had a return trip to the metropolis in April 2004 when all the Mercedes Citaros were recalled for fire-proofing,
and worked for a week from Hackney on routes 1 and D7.
247 even spent a day on high-profile route RV1 deputising for a Citaro!
While at Rainham 239-240 spent a while
out-stationed at Manningtree Station while Ipswich Railway Tunnel was being rebuilt during August 2004.
But at the end of 2004 they were banished, and headed for First South Yorkshire.
223-238: Alexander RH for the 91Alexander of Belfast was chosen to body the next batch, sixteen required to operate the 91 (Trafalgar Square - Crouch End Broadway), taken over from MTL. They arrived to take over the route in February 1997, and were predominantly red-liveried, with a broad white-edged yellow band marking out the ownership. This was to comply with the new 80% red rule for buses on routes entering the twin cities. This rule did not apply to advertising areas, and many of the batch had full-rear advertisements, including contra-vision on the rear windows. One that did not was 238, which had a normally-liveried rear but sported a large blind display which gave route-number, via points and destination. This was an electrically driven roller blind operated from the cab by the driver.
238 was at Showbus, Duxford, when new in September 1997, showing its unique rear power-operated blind.
237 took me from Kings Cross to Charing Cross in June 1998, before turning round Trafalgar Square past the National Gallery.The 91 should have been converted to Trident operation in 2002, but they ended up going elsewhere. The Alexanders hung on. During the blockade of Thameslink through London while the St.Pancras station box was built I often used the route to link Kings Cross and Charing Cross, and appreciated the VAs and VNs. It was 2004 before the Alexanders got their marching orders. They had already acquired VA class prefixes, that appeared above the fuel cap. Now they moved on, some to First Potteries at Rock Ferry, some to First South Yorkshire. I missed them (I went back to Thameslink!).
206-222: Palatine I for the 341Seventeen more Northern-Counties bodied Volvo Olympians arrived in October 1998, the company's last non-low-floor buses. These were for new route 341, (County Hall - Northumberland Park). In practice they were often mixed onto the 91 with the Alexanders. They started work at Northumberland Park wearing the new First f logos on the front instead of Capital Citybus' C logos. Many wore discrete side-branding for the 341 to Sadlers Wells.
As expected, they were soon displaced from central London.
209-211 spent a month at Uxbridge in February 2003,
but came back. Tridents took over the 341 in 2003-4.
Ten of the batch moved to Hackney in January 2004 for the 158,
but this was a short-lived allocation. By the summer they were moving on.
Some moved to Rainham, replacing Metrobuses and Dennis Arrows. Others went to First South Yorkshire.
209 spent a very short while at Orpington.
Even those that had gone to Rainham went north late in 2005,
while a handful remained into 2006 at Northumberland Park
or the new Dagenham depot, on contract and rail replacement work.
By now they wore First's "lifetime numbers" and VDN class codes.
209 at Showbus in Sptember 1998, before application of first logos, and at Aldwych on the 341 in April 2002.
206 at Euston on the 91 in April 2002.