Reading has operated a total of ten MCW Metroriders, 216, 601-6 and 651-3, all of which are no-longer with the company. The first Metroriders, 601-6 wore a special Goldrider livery for the first few years of their life in Reading - at that time they were the only minibuses in a fleet comprised largely of double deckers. They all later received Reading Buses livery, 605 also becoming a ColourBus. The other four were purchased second hand.
216 was a coach version of the Metrorider, model MF154/1 and was originally Ipswich Transport 303. It was new in August 1989, registered G683 KNW, and then was reregistered WOI 3005 in April 1992. It started off in Newbury on loan from Ipswich, operating the Newbury to Oxford express service, wearing a dedicated version of the Newbury Buses livery. The Oxford service was withdrawn, and by this time 216 has been purchased by Reading, and so was moved to the Reading depot to gain Goldline livery, as seen below in November 1999.
Reading also purchased Metrorider E637 TOG, which prior to purchase they had operated as a demonstrator on loan from MCW. When purchased however they did not allocate it a fleet number, but broke it up for spares instead.
Optare MetroRider Mk 1
This is Optare MetroRider Mk 1 fleet number 612 on Friar Street in April 1998.
Reading's first Mk1s were bought new in September 1991, and were allocated fleet numbers 607-13. From this batch of seven buses, 609 was a ColourBus for Leighton's Opticians, and all were allocated to Reading. In 1999 607 was transferred to Newbury, but upon receiving serious damage in November 2000 it was withdrawn and scrapped, with 615 (a Mk2) taking it's place after 608 spent a brief period on loan as a temporary replacement.
Some second hand Mk1 MetroRiders were also purchased, they were 661-2, 682-3, 687-8. This brought the total number of Mk1 MetroRiders operated to 13. Of these 687 and 688 were the only ones allocated to Newbury from acquisition, but over time all of the second hand MetroRiders moved to Newbury before eventually being withdrawn. Following minibus frequency cuts due to a driver shortage in November 2000, 608-11 were put into a reserve fleet, and kept at the back of the depot out of service. 612 and 613 soon followed, whilst 608 was the first to leave in June 2001, and 609 was the last, remaining in the depot for some moths whilst it was converted into a mobile exhibition unit.
Optare MetroRider Mk 2
Reading Transport have also had 13 Mk 2 MetroRiders, fleet numbers 614-26. The first batch of these to arrive were 615-20 in August 1994, all allocated to Reading and initially given FastLine branding to compete with the then newly established competitor Reading Mainline.
This is 616 seen in March 2001 showing the final form of the Reading Buses livery that was applied to all of the Mk2 and Mk4 MetroRiders allocated to Reading. Compared to the old livery, the Reading Buses logos are moved to behind the rear wheel, and the stripe is thinned between the wheels, all to make space for adverts:
This is 618, seen in February 1999 illustrating the similarly between it and the Mk4 version covered further down the page.
614 followed these in September, it being powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and allocated to Newbury. Here it is seen at Newbury Bus Station in October 1999 demonstrating the special branding applied.
621-3 came in November and were again allocated to Newbury. 621 however spent its first few months on loan to Reading (in full Newbury Buses livery) to cover on rural services during a vehicle shortage. The trio's end came when they were made redundant by some service changes at the end of April 2001, but they were kept in store until eventual sale in 2003.
625 and 626 arrived in November 1995 and January 1996 respectively both being ex-Demonstrators. They were both originally allocated to Reading, but moved to Newbury in 2000 to replace the last Mk1 MetroRiders.
624 was the last Mk2 to arrive in May 1996, it being another CNG powered example, and was also originally allocated to Newbury. In February 2001 both 614 and 624 entered service in Reading after being moved to the Reading depot after falling out of use in Newbury. They had new engines fitted which run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and new branding applied, as this photo of 624, taken in April 2001 shows.
Some of the Mk 2s (and Mk1s) have been physically altered with ventilation holes added to the bonnet in a similar fashion to the ones on the Mk4s. One definite conversion is 615, but not all of the Mk2s were done. Once converted they did look quite similar to Mk4s, but their identity is given away by the location of the Optare logo - it is on the grill between the headlights on the Mk2s and on the bonnet of the Mk4s.
In March 2002 616-20 were withdrawn and put into store at Newbury pending sale, following service cuts in Reading. 615, 621-3 were withdrawn and put into store with them following delivery of Solos 122-5 to Newbury in April 2002. Below is a line up of 615-23/7 on 30th April 2002 when in store at the Newbury depot. 615/9 are off the side of the image on the right. Thanks to Paul Hilton for this photo.
625 was withdrawn in January 2004, and replaced at Newbury by Mk 4 MetroRider 628 from Reading.
614 was withdrawn in March 2003, followed by 624 by about October 2003. Both were put up for sale, but little interest was shown in the pair, so newer 624 was sent away for conversion to diesel in September 2004. It returned in October and was put back into service at Reading on 4th February 2005. 624 is seen below on 7th February 2005:
624 was transferred to Newbury on 1st September 2005 to replace 626 which had been withdrawn and advertised for sale a few days earlier. It then spent a few days back in Reading in early December 2005 for MoT, at which point it was rumoured also to be for sale (newer 627/9 had been made spare following service changes in Reading from 24th October 2005). However it safely returned to Newbury, although is now scheduled to be withdrawn in April 2006.
614 remains with Reading Transport, but is in the process of being scrapped for spare parts.
Optare MetroRider Mk 4
This is Optare MetroRider Mk 4 fleet number 629 and is on route 36 heading for Tilehurst Triangle. It is part of a batch of three Mk 4s fleet numbers 627, 628 and 629 that arrived in June 1999 for service in Reading. Of these 628 was a demonstrator for Optare before purchase, and transferred to Newbury in January 2004.
There are three Mk4s 630-2 allocated to Newbury Buses too. They were initially leased from Optare to operate Vodafone contracts whilst new Optare Solos 109-11 were being built. At that time new Solos had a lead time of 18 months. Whilst on lease they operated with fleet numbers 1-3 and in white Vodafone livery, as illustrated below by 1 (630) at Newbury Bus Station in July 1999.
When the Solos (109-11) arrived in January 2000 the buses were purchased from Optare to replace second-hand Mk1 MetroRiders which were being used in Newbury. At this time they were repainted into full Newbury Buses livery and renumbered. Below is 631 at Reading Station in August 2000.
628 and 629 were briefly withdrawn in March 2002 following service withdrawals in Reading, but were back in service by May and June respectively. 627 was withdrawn for longer, eventually going back to service in January 2003 to replace 614.
628 was finally withdrawn and advertised for sale in August 2005, being part-replaced at Newbury by 624. 627/9 were then made redundant in Reading following service withdrawals from 24th October 2005, and went on loan to Newbury from 5th December 2005 to replace 624.
627/9 were withdrawn in April 2006 following service changes in Reading from 24th October 2005 and 27th March 2006. 627 was sold to GHA Coaches in March 2010, entering service in June 2010 in Vale of Llangollen Travel livery. 629 was sold to ASD Coaches by June 2006.
630/1 were withdrawn from Newbury on 21st October 2006, following the displacement of Solos from Vodafone work to the town fleet. They moved to Reading and received Reading Buses logos on the front before gaining full Reading Buses livery on 2nd and 3rd January 2007 respectively. 631 is seen below in a photograph taken by James Cusworth on 6th December 2006:
631 is seen again in full Reading Buses livery on 5th February 2007:
632 moved to Reading in June 2006 for use on driver training duties, and occasionally the Theale Vodafone shuttle. It retained full Newbury livery for some time, but eventually had its Newbury logos removed (retaining the Newbury stripe).
630-2 were withdrawn in October 2008 following the loss of routes 126-9 between Reading and Wokingham and the arrival of Darts 310/1 for the training fleet a few months earlier.
From time to time vehicles have been loaned from Reading to Newbury to help out when vehicles are off the road:
- 627 - 28th January 2003 to 25th February 2003
- 627 - 5th December 2005 to approx 6th January 2006
- 629 - 5th December 2005 to 15th December 2005
- 630 - 18th November 2006 until 30th December 2006
- 630 - 12th January 2007 until 9th March 2007 (primarily to operate a shuttle bus on routes 6/9 during roadworks on the A34)
- 630 - 11th September 2007 until 14th November 2007 (for the Newbury show and to help out on some short term additional work with young people)
- 630 - 1st December 2007 until approx 23rd January 2008 (to operate emergency contracts for routes 99/107 following Four Valleys Taxibus closure)
- 631 - 16th November 2006 to 18th November 2006
- 631 - Approx 23rd January 2008 until March 2008 (to operate emergency contracts for routes 99/107 following Four Valleys Taxibus closure)
Last updated: 01-10-11
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