The Metrobus Volvo Olympians

This page created 3rd December 2006. by Ian Smith

817-819, 821-826, 828-829: 1-door Palatine I

Paladin 1-door drawing Metrobus had a careful bus-buying policy: it bought its Leyland Olympians a few each year until yjthe company was well-established. It did not want to follow the boom and bust example of some other young bus companies. So as well as its new buses it had gathered a rag-bag of secondhand Olympians and a few Metrobuses, which appeared on the 261 after the Daimler Fleetlines had passed on. The 261 (Lewisham- Grove Park - Bromley - Bromley Common) was one of its staple routes and in late 1996 the company retained the contract with the promise of new buses. They arrived promptly for a start in November 1996. They were standard single-doorway Volvo Olympians with Northern Counties Palatine I bodywork, liveried in standard blue and yellow. There were gaps in the registration sequence due to DVLA's retention of some numbers, and the fleet numbers reflected those gaps.

Metrobus tried to keep its batches of buses tied to particular routes. (Presumably that made accurate route-based accounting easier, and retendering more evidence-based). So these eleven buses became regulars on the 261.

822 at Bromley North Stn, March 2000 822 at Bromley North Stn, March 2000

Metrobus 822 on the route it was bought for: route 261, at Bromley North Station in March 2000.
817-819, 821-823 moved to Crawley in May 2001, to replace hired Metrobuses after the company takeover of Crawley operations from Arriva. The other five moved to Godstone for the 409 (West Croydon - East Grinstead). Their place on the 261 was filled by two-door NVs transferred in from London Central. In the spring of 2005 the Godstone buses moved to Crawley to join the others, and they started to receive the new livery of pale blue and blue.

819 at Crawley, September 2009 822 at Crawley, September 2009

Olympians in Country blue/blue at Crawley in September 2009, now with digital displays.

Pyoneer drawing

830-839, 841-845: 2-door Pyoneer

For September 1997 Metrobus won the contract for a route right in the heart of its own original commercial operations, the 64 (Thornton Heath - Croydon - Selsdon - New Addington). It required two-door new buses for the contract, and acquired fifteen Volvo Olympians with East Lancs Pyoneer bodies. These became 830-839, 841-845. They were of a very different style, with seemingly-huge windows and a futuristic shaping (compared with the standard boxes otherwise available). When new they had three-track number displays on their fronts, but these were replaced after a while with LT-style single number blinds.

841 at Showbus, Duxford, September 1997 836 at New Addington, July 2000

841 at Showbus, Duxford, when new in September 1997, and 836 on the 64 at New Addington, July 2000.
837 at Crawley on 420, September 2009 The batch stayed with the 64 into 2002, when the demands at Crawley for double-deckers on route 1 (to replace Excels) gave rise to a transfer of 830-837 to "Country" operations there. Their place on the 64 was taken by imported NVs from London Central. The rest of the batch followed sporadically during the next three years, as new Omnidekkas took over the 64, first repatriating some of the imported buses and then releasing the Pyoneers. By May 2005 they were all at Crawley, busy on the town services which had thrived since Metrobus' takeover from Arriva.
837 at Crawley on 420, September 2009.

846-858: 2-door Pyoneer

Metrobus approached the re-equipment of the 119 for the August 1998 takeover from Stagecoach rather differently. They could see that any new buses for the route would likely have a short working life on their London tendered operations, as low-floor double-decker operation loomed. Nor would they be able to absorb yet another batch into forseeable "Country" operations. So they leased the thirteen buses needed for the 119, choosing again two-door East Lancs Pyoneers. This batch stayed with the 119 until the Omnidekkas arrived. They did have forays onto other routes, and some were borrowed briefly by Crawley, but their specialised blind layout did not encourage off-route ventures. All except three (851, 855-6) returned to East Lancs early in 2004, and the other three in February 2005, for dispersal to other operators.

855 at Bromley North Stn, March 2000 856 at Bromley North Stn, March 2000 856 at Bromley North Stn, March 2000

Metrobus 855 and 856 at Bromley North Station in March 2000 on the 119 to Croydon Airport.

859-866: 1-door Palatine I

For the 320 (Bromley North - Biggin Hill Valley), also taken over from Stagecoach in autumn 1998, Metrobus opted for single-door Palatine Is, which presumably would have better prospects for secondhand sale at the end of the tender period, being an industry standard. Arriving shortly before the contemporary batch of Pyoneers they started work on the 119, but turned to their allotted route as the East Lancs batch arrived. They would not have to cope with Westerham Hill, because those journeys had been taken over by Darts on the new 246 route. So the eight Volvos spent their time rolling up the north side of the North Downs from Bromley, then dropping into Biggin Hill Valley, then toiling back out for the roll back to Bromley.

The first three went to Godstone in early 2001, probably for use on the 409, 410, 411 group.

The others were gradually displaced from the 320 by incoming low-floor Omnidekkas. Then all eight were sold in December 2003 to Rossendale Transport.

861 at Bromley Market, March 2000

Metrobus 861 turns from Tweedy Road at Bromley Market in March 2000, terminating on the 354.

868-882 (with gaps): 2-door London Central NVs

NV1 drawing Spring 2001 saw the upheaval at Crawley, where Arriva gave up its operations and Metrobus moved in. Lots more buses were needed. Arriva hired some of its old Metrobuses to Metrobus, but something better was needed to establish a fresh image in the minds of the travelling public. The single doorway Palatine Is from the 261 were just right for the job, so they went off to Crawley. Their place on the 261 was filled by drafting in a dozen two-door NVs from New Cross. These were a year older than the displaced Palatines, and had two doors. But the 261 was essentially an urban route, where two doors would be de rigueur from the next tender round anyway. There was time to have them all painted by Caetano at Waterlooville, and proper blinds fitted in the different-style boxes, before they entered service. It is quite possible that many people did not notice the change on the 261.

But the 261 received its intended new low-floor Tridents in January 2002. Five of the NVs promptly returned to London Central at Camberwell. Others filled in the gaps left on the 64 when some Pyoneers left Orpington for Crawley. These seven stayed until May 2003, when new Omnidekkas banished them from the 64, and indeed from the fleet. They went away for storage at First's depot in Leicester until buyers could be found for them.

870 at Grove Park Stn, Sept.2001 870 at New Street Hill, Sept.2001

Metrobus 870 (alias NV30) at Grove Park Station in September 2001, and departing the New Street Hill stop.

885-896 (with gaps): 1-door London Central NVs

Three single-doorway NVs came to Metrobus in May 2001 from Peckham. They were repainted by Caetano into blue/yellow, and went into service as 888-890 at Crawley, where they stayed until mid-2006.

Seven more came from Bexleyheath in June/July 2002, when they took up residence at Orpington mainly for use on the 320, displacing other buses towards Crawley. These were relatively short-lived at Metrobus, being sold off in May 2003 as new low-floor buses arrived.

861 at Bromley Market, March 2000 NV1 drawing

Metrobus 885 (ex NV5) leaves Bromley North Station for Biggin Hill Valley in April 2003, just before withdrawal.
Bus Stop Volvos Stagecoach bus histories photo refs Capital Citybus