It's been a long time since we had a 'special' on Norwich Bus Page, and upon hearing that the first two Streetlites had entered service in Yarmouth this week we decided that gave us the perfect excuse to spend a day bus twitching around the county. We worked out that these must be the first brand new buses since those 55 reg Eclipse Urbans back in 2005, so this was going to be a momentus occasion! I had arranged to meet Harry at Norwich Bus Station at about 0930 this morning so despite a late night last night, I was up at about eight making sure my SD cards had enough room, and my battery had enough power etc etc. I then drove a short three miles from my house to Woodton to catch the 88 using a free travel voucher I picked during the Lowestoft in Motion event during the summer. At 0848 exactly, OmniCity 553 AO57HCC turned up complete with the new style fleetnames and a working destination screen, whilst inside the removal of the television screen from the upper deck window warrented a great excuse to enjoy the ever more autumnal scene outside. On the way, we passed sister 552 AO57HCD and single deck OmniLink 451 YN07EZB also working the route.
|Sanders 215 AU03HWS was acquired from Neaves alongside their operations earlier in theyear but has escaped my camera since then. Here she is seen working an X11 service this morning.|
Other happenings of interest included Wright Streetlite 350 MX60BWH working the 87, and some ducks crossing the road perilously in front of us in Brooke. Upon arriving in Norwich, I couldn't help but notice the view of the bus station from the traffic lights on Queen's Road is no more, leaving me in a bit of a hurry to get off the bus as fast as possible in case something worth photographing was present that I was unable to see from the top deck beforehand.
|Brand of Beccles have recently struck a new deal with BorderBus, resulting in adverts being displayed in the rear window.|
Harry had texted me explaining he was running ten minutes late so I thought I'd nip up to Greggs to grab myself a breakfast bap. I was pleased to see the staff there supporitng Children in Need by wearing onesies and the like, but as a man walked past the window wearing a Santa hat, I became more excited at the fact that Christmas is fast approaching.
Harry eventually arrived and we were both amazed at how quiet St Stephen's Street is now it's closed to general traffic, although the lack of 'bus gates' still means that two men in hi-vis jackets are employed to stand there all day. We then got our cameras out and started to discuss the chances of any of FirstNorwich's recently repainted Plaxton Presidents turning up in the short twenty minutes that we would be there for. We decided that chances were slim so concentrated on Konect's ex-Anglian Versas, all of which now carry Konectbus fleetnames on the front. Just as were deciding which X2 to take towards Lowestoft, I caught a glimpse of purple on the 36. I prayed that it would be 33166 LR02LYD as I had already photographed 33163 LR02LXZ the previous weekend in Long Stratton and lo and behold I now had the opportunity to do it again. Harry was pleased though as this was the first one he'd seen; little did we know that only six minutes later he was going to see his second! 33166 rocked up behind her sister on the 37 to Mulbarton.
|33166 still sporting her breast cancer awareness month sticker on the top deck window.|
Feeling pleased with our luck, we headed back to the bus station to catch the X2 to Beccles. Our chariot was one of the last remaining Geminis with full X2 branding left including seatbelts; 37564 AU58ECC features a pink vinyl at the top of the upper deck window with an advert on the lower deck rear window showing off the twenty minute frequency of the route. We alighted in Beccles, just to see if anything out of the ordinary was going on...which it wasn't, so we promptly went back to Tesco to catch the next bus to Lowestoft. The bus we wanted to take had left the bus stop just as we got to the road so I crossed infront of it and stuck my arm out, then looked at my watch to find it wasn't due to leave for another three minutes. The driver just looked at me, shook his head and drove straight past leaving us in the cold and wet for another twenty minutes. Our mini crisis was over when 37570 AU58ECT picked us up to take us to the Suffolk coast. Heavy traffic upon entering the town ended up with me deciding we should walk from Asda to the bus station, but as we got off the vehicle the heavens opened which resulted in me nipping into Sports Direct to buy some dry socks and shoes.
Because of the weather, our stop in Lowestoft was brief and before we knew it our excitement was building as Great Yarmouth came nearer and nearer, our eyes peeled for a brand new shiny bus coming the other way. Harry's eyes seemed to be focusing on the LED headlights as everytime a modern looking car appeared he'd hit me a few times telling me that it's coming, but the funniest of them all was whilst riding along Southtown Road onboard 33824 YX63LKO, he exclaimed "There it is!" and it turned out to be a lady on a bicycle. Thinking that our luck was about to change, we got off the bus at the stop just after Haven Bridge so we could walk through to the market. As we were about to cross the road Harry shouted at me again, although this time it actually was what we were looking for! 47501 SN64CPU was fast approaching us leaving me little time to scramble my camera out of it's bag but thanks to it's one touch quick snap system (or something) I was successful.
|not bad for my first picture of one in service; 47501 working the 2 to James Paget Hospital.|
It's not the prettiest of backgrounds, but it's different so I like it. We then sprinted through to the Market Gates to see if we could catch it but as we arrived we spied the other one just leaving on the 2 to the Barrack Estate. Harry then explained that if we walk down Deneside for a few minutes we would be able to see it and still have time to make it back to catch it to the hospital instead. It's definitely handy having a friend who knows Yarmouth accompanying you!
|The second Streetlite is 47502 SN64CPV, seen on Deneside today also working the number 2.|
Waiting at the market gates was almost murder. I never thought I could be so excited about riding a bus; those two minutes felt like two hours! But then it happened. 47502 pulled up to the kerb and the doors opened. As we stepped inside we were greeted by the driver who had seen us taking photos, and another friendly face was also present; another enthusiast who I have met on a number of occasions was also sampling the new buses. We enjoyed the ride up to the hospital with practically the whole bus to ourselves, absorbing the bright white LED lighting, the pinkest of handrails, whilst nestling into the comfortable real leather seats and smelling the odd whiff of fresh paint. The ride was smooth and rattle free and I was very pleased with the cleanliness of the vehicle. Upon arriving at James Paget, our driver parked up in the resting bay to have a quick break and to allow us to take some photos.
|Not often you get to take a photo of the offside of a bus when its also the nearside!|
|A low angle shot of the nearside pretending to be the offside.|
|and one last shot of her now at the bus stop picking up passengers to go back to Yarmouth.|
Feeling pleased with how our day went, Harry and I reboarded 47502 back to the town centre where we would go our seperate ways. I don't know what bus he ended up catching home, but I bet it wasn't as luxurious as 33423 SN60CAA.
Thanks to the First driver for being friendly and allowing us to take photographs of the vehicle, and thanks to Harry for providing me with good company. More photos from the day will be uploaded to my flickr in the coming days.