Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 17th March 2002.

Optare MetroRiders: MRL135-241 + MRL223-4

Optare MRL drawing After the demise of MCW's bus-building operations Optare of Leeds bought their designs and jigs for the Metrorider (and Metrobus and Metroliner). They modified the minibus design slightly, and offered it as the MetroRider, with a choice of three lengths and two widths. London Buses bought only their 8.4m long by 2.2m wide version, the MRL.

Although the new MetroRider looked very similar to the old MCW product, it was not just a re-badge. The structure was much stronger, with deeper skirt panels, stronger doorway structures, gasket glazing and aluminium side panels. The Cummins B-series engine and Allison AT545 automatic drive-train were retained.

MRL135: Suttonbus

London Buses approached the new bus with some caution, knowing the developing problems with the MCW version. It initially bought just one, in July 1990, and sent it to Sutton.

MRL136-176: South-East

South-East London was the first area to take a significant number, with two dozen arriving from November 1990 for Bexleyheath and Plumstead. Another seventeen followed from May 1991 for Bromley.

380 Abbey Wood - Lewisham
386 Eltham - Kidbrooke circular

MRL177-209: London General

London General started to receive a large order in July 1991, putting them to work from Victoria Garage Basement, and then sending some of them them out to Sutton. Merton received some of them in November 1991 for the 152 (New Malden - Pollards Hill).

Optare MRL drawing: Epsom Buses In October 1997 Epsom Buses won several routes from London General, and bought eleven of their MeroRiders to go with them (MRL179-189). They looked very smart in Epsom Buses' cream with marron skirts, but did not stay long before being replaced by new Darts, and moving on to Reading Buses, in January 1999.

MRL210-222: London Northern

London Northern took thirteen from 11/91 for use at Holloway on the W5 (Harringay, Sainsbury's - Archway). They had side-boards below the windows detailing the route.

Optare MRL drawing: late version

MRL223: London General

There was a gap before the next acquisitions started, in early 1993. The final batch was to an updated specification, with a larger front destination box and two-piece doors with step cut-outs. The first one went to London General at Victoria.

224-241: London Central

London Central took the remaining eighteen in February 1993, for Bexleyheath routes, including
278: Kidbrooke - Lewisham
244: Woolwich - Belmarsh Prison (- Thamesmead)

MRL242 in the LT Museum

MRL242: LT Museum

MRL242 is unique as a London bus in being built with half missing! MRL 242 was built specifically for the LT Museum in Covent Garden, and appears to be emerging from a gallery wall. It is missing most of the offside and rear, and has no engine. It does have a driving simulator for visitors to try.

MRL223-224: MTL London

In 1997 MTL London needed more buses on the W4, operated with MetroRiders from Potters Bar. So they bought another pair of long narrow Evolved MetroRiders, and gave them the next two numbers in their sequence (MRL 223-4), thus duplicating those numbers in the whole London red fleet.

They were taken over by Metroline, who retained the last operational red Optare MetroRiders in Central London for use on the W5. These included the two "extras" (the extra MRL223-4), which were retained as spares in May 2001 when the W5 was converted to DLMs.

Part4: Other Optare MetroRiders

Red MCWs. Other MCWs. Optare MetroRiders. Other Optares.

Ian's Bus Stop Midibus Index. MR histories. MR photos.