This page created 10th April 2012.
Optare Excels: Capital Citybus, First Capital
701-704Capital Citybus expanded rapidly in the second half of the nineties. They put a toe into the water of low-floor buses with a contract for routre 396 (Ilford Broadway - Goodmayes: King George Hospital). This commenced in July 1996, but Capital Citybus had to put up with Volvo B6s until four Optare Excels were available in November 1996. These were four new 10.0m 35-seaters, in yellow livery with red bands.
The takeover by First Group in July 1998 made no immediate difference to the buses. In 2000 they were retrofitted with wheelchair ramps by Marshalls and used on the Docklands Light Railway replacement service while the Crossharbour to Island Gardens section was withdrawn for rebuilding for the Lewisham extension. That was followed by a repaint into red livery with yellow and white willow bands.
In the autumn of 2001 the Excels began to appear more frequently on other routes, such as the 248, 252 and 296. The 396 passed to Stagecoach East London in March 2002. Despite their raison d'etre having been removed, the Excels transferred to Rainham with all the other vehicles in March, only to be withdrawn in April.
The Excels passed on to First PMT at Chester. Much later they moved to First Manchester, where their engine sounds seem to be of much fascination to video enthusiasts.