Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, best on Netscape 800*600

This page created 19th September 2003

Optare Citypacers: the OV class

Orpington Buses OV1-5

Roundabout OV drawing In July 1986 London Regional Transport bought five stylish new minibuses with space-age Citypacer bodies by Optare, mounted on Volkswagen van chassis. They were to be operated by Orpington Buses on Orpington Roundabout services that required more capacity than that of the Robin Hood bodied Ivecos otherwise employed. They seated 25. Livery was Roundabout's grey and maroon. Bodies were 22ft 2in long, 7ft 2in wide, 8ft 11in high, with a 11ft 10in wheelbase.

At first they were each named after winds: Typhoon, Hurricane, Tornado, Chinook, Whirlwind. They started operations in August 1986. There were, inevitably, capacity problems, not just at peak commuting times, but at shoppers' peaks too. The Orpington OVs stayed there until early 1990, when some were replaced by OVs from London General, but these too were soon displaced by new 33-seater Mercedes of the MC class. The original Orpington five became trainers before disposal in 1991-2.

OV2 at LT Museum, Acton OV2 at LT Museum, Acton

OV2 survived by being donated to the London Transport Museum in June 1991. It is seen here in The Depot, Acton during an open day in March 2002.

Central London minibuses: OV6-24

Central hoppa OV drawing In September 1986 Victoria garage received nineteen more Citypacers, this time in red livery, for use on new Central London Minibus high frequency route C1, (Westminster - Victoria - Kensington), via the back streets. In the evenings they operated theatre routes C20 and C21, although parked cars in Covent Garden quickly caused re-routing! Again these were London Regional Transport initiatives, with London Buses chosen as operator to get them in place quickly. The minibus unit was to operate out of the basement of Victoria garage, which gained its own code (VB). One peculiuarity of VB's operation was that it did not display fleetnumbers. The Optares were at first just known by their registrations, but in November 1988 they were officially numbered OV6-24. But these numbers did not appear on the buses. (Except for OV45 while it was at Walthamstow, when it displayed OV377!)

The minibuses met a local need, but the London traffic proved punishing for the lightweight Volkswagen chassis, and by 1990 they were being replaced by other types: several went into the training fleet in 1990, and during 1991 they mostly went into store for sale.

Muswell Hill minibuses: MBV27-51, later OV25-49

LCNW OV drawing London Country North-West was the winner of the tender for LRT's C2 route (Regents Street - Camden Town), replacing the northern end of route 53 for a start in March 1987. The minibuses: Optare Citypacers - were supplied by London Regional Transport. They were in red livery like the previous batch, but branded as Camden Hoppa, and without the white trim lines and large bullseyes. They operated from a new base in Muswell Hill (ML), although some were used by Watford for driver-training prior to the lauch of the new service.

LCNW surrendered the contract in June 1988, and London Buses took over on a short term, then longer-term basis. The Citypacers moved with the contract, and London Buses put them into Victoria Basement too. Several of them wandered, some going to Orpington for a while, and others becoming trainers at Westbourne Park, Walthamstow, Plumstead, Barking... in their later working lives. Again, they were mechanically well worn by the early nineties, after three or four years' work, and they were displaced by the new round of minibuses.

Carelink buses: OV50-52

Carelink OV drawing Three Citypacers were acquired by London Regional Transport for the new Interstation service for people with mobility difficulties: Carelink. They were fitted with rear wheelchair lifts, and had fourteen dual-purpose seats with seatbelts. LRT gave the operations contract to London Buses, and the three buses moved in to Victoria Basement in February 1988 for a March start. Livery was red with a broad yellow band, with large red Carelink fleetnames. Along the edges of the roof were the names of the stations linked, diagonally slanting upwards: Waterloo, Victoria, Paddington, Euston, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and Waterloo. Later they were allocated (but did not wear) number OV50-52.

They moved on with the contract in October 1992, to F.E.Thorpe.

Red Rover, Aylesbury: 163-5, 169

Red Rover Optare drawing For some of its services on the fringe of the old Country Area, around Aylesbury, Red Rover bought three CityPacers in 1986, with another in 1987. They painted their 25-seater buses in an attractive primrose and red livery.

Luton & District took over the company in November 1987.

Welwyn Hatfield Line: VO1-11

Welwyn VO drawing In August 1987 Welwyn Hatfield Line started up, based on Welwyn Garden City. Eleven new Optares were acquired for the services, with three older small buses as back-ups. Seven routes were operated on a half-hourly basis, Monday-Saturday.
The first two Optares were the coach Inter City Pacer version with narrow doorway. These were painted silver with red and blue lining, with the company name in the full-width blind-box. Route details are carried on cards placed in the front window.
The other nine wore a beige livery, and use the blind-box in bus fashion, with a three track blind on the nearside.

Four more buses, VO12-15, were added in April 1988.

The company was taken over by Sovereign in January 1990. The buses moved on to County Bus a year later, in January 1991, and worked from Harlow and Hoddesdon for another year or two, before being sold for less arduous work all over the country. Whilst with County they were renumbered as MB906-20, with the last two digits matching the registrations.

Ian's Bus Stop Midibus Index. OV text. OV histories. OV photo refs.