This page created 5th April 2012.
Optare Excels: Travel London, Limebourne, Connex
Travel London 401-405, 407-422
Travel West Midlands, a subsidiary of National Express, broke into the London tendering market in 1998, winning contracts for the C1 and 211, to commence in June. Trading as Travel London, they set up a base in the old railway depot at Stewarts Lane in Battersea, and ordered Optare Solos for the C11 and Optare Excels for the 211 (Hammersmith - Fulham Broadway - Chelsea - Sloane Square - Victoria - Westminster Bridge Waterloo Station). The Solos for the C11 were not in time for the start of the C11, so the Excels, which had arrived early, were deployed on the C11 for a week until needed for the 211. They were twenty-two extra-short (9.6m) Excels with dual doorways, seating 26. Livery was red - with a hint of raspberry - with white and blue relief. They carried fleet numbers reflecting the registrations.
415 crosses Westminster Bridge towards its Waterloo destination, in October 1999.However, the Stewarts Lane base failed to gain planning approval, and Wandsworth Council served an enforcement order requiring Travel London to vacate the site by the end of 1999. An appeal failed. The upshot was that Travel London pulled out in August 2000, handing the two routes to Limebourne (Indepent Way) and leasing them the buses.
Limebourne (IW) 301-5, 307-322The staff and buses moved to Limebourne's Battersea base, the Excels becoming 301-305 and 307-322. The Travel Londoin business became a subsidiary of Limebourne, so there was no need to alter livery or fleetnames.
But Limebourne was taken over by Connex in July 2001.
XL419 passes through Victoria Bus Station in April 2002, still clearly wearing its Travel London livery, but devoid of fleetnames.
Connex Bus XL301-305, XL307-322Connex continued the lease on the Excels, and kept them on the 211 until November 2002, when the 211 was double-decked.
The Excels were returned to National Express at Travel West Midlands. After conversion to single doorway - and a repaint - they were allocated to either Travel Dundee or Travel West Midlands for further service.