After a considerable absence, today, double deck buses are on public display in Jersey. Tomorrow, we see the introduction of two former demonstrator ADL Enviro 400 double decks, one a 59-plate and the other a 60. To be used on the 15 between St Helier & the airport, the 15 is one of two routes given a derogation to use standard width buses. The other is the 1 between St Helier & Gorey. They replicate the successful E400 test vehicle previously used, given registration number J111111.
The 15s usually require four buses to operate but actually it has a PVR of six. Call me old fashioned but the old school in me always thinks it’s odd when an operator mixes capacities, especially so wildly as this. I know it’s a necessity these days. It’s undoubtedly a sign of getting on when you look back fondly at time when you’d find the uniformity of the same class of vehicle operating all journeys, all day, every day.
The double deck pair joins five Enviro 200 midibuses bought new in March. All five appear on the 1s and 15s, again owing to their standard width.
Typically, reaction to the double decks is mixed. The usual naysayers abound, even on the idyllic isle of Jersey where you might least expect them. Perhaps they’re English imports. Common views seems to be that:
- Such vehicles are a waste of money
- Connex can’t fill the buses they already have
- Roads are slow enough without double decks
- The taxpayer is shelling out… again
As for the roads being slow enough without double decks, such comments beggar belief, the more so when you consider Jersey has a 40 mph car maximum speed limit.
Jersey’s fleet numbering is somewhat reminiscent of Red & White’s of old. The E200s have numbers 1178-82. The first one or two digits denote the year into service, and the other two numbers are sequential. Thus the original Slimbuses are 201-33; the next two or three Darts (second hand, ex-Armchair) are 334-7, etc. By rights the new deckers should become 1183 and 1184.
Franchised operator Connex didn’t enjoy an initially smooth ride on Jersey but has seen its contract extended. Tenders are apparently now in for a new seven-year term, to begin in 2012. Connex is now nevertheless a stronger operation than when they arrived and its image is no doubt enhanced by its new text service and its new vehicles. But who knows who might compete in terms of tendering. Among others, Norfolk Green had a stab, last time.
If the two E400s appear to be the most interesting buses on the island, there’s also an open topper. An entrepreneur has imported a former London Transport Bristol LH6L and converted it for tours and private hires, this in spite of some early vandalism that certainly disgusted many residents on the island.
Originally intended for the Isles of Scilly, that deal fell through and the world’s only open top LH is now on Jersey. On the strength of this, I still doubt that Jersey will replace Malta as a mecca for enthusiasts, though.