LAST UPDATED: 9 April 2017

TRANSBUS DART SLF

34550, 34561/63-65, 34605/11 NK04---

 

For several years the standard for the midibus requirement of Stagecoach was the Transbus Dart SLF/Pointer 2 combination.

 

Illustrating the original appaearance of the batch, 34612 is seen arriving in South Shields Market on Service 4, complete with UPPERCASE destination display and lacking the blue wheelchair logo.

Photo © Stagecoach North East Bus Depot 2006

Delivered in two stages, 34550/61-69 entered service in Hartlepool in May 2004, while 34605-15 commenced operations in South Shields in July 2004. All 20 were delivered in full new Stagecoach corporate livery, with Stagecoach in Hartlepool or Stagecoach in South Shields names as appropriate. All 20 have full Stagecoach corporate blue interiors and individual seating and entered service with uppercase yellow digital destination displays.

 

The capacity of these low floor vehicles is B38F, which reduces to B35F when a wheelchair is carried.

 

The registrations of these vehicles are as follows:

34550 NK04KZT
34561 NK04KZU

Seen in Hartlepool operating Service 1 for which it carried route branding, 34568 exmeplifies the original branding applied to the Hartlepool batch. Note the UPPERCASE destination display and lack of blue wheelchair logo.

Photo © Stagecoach North East Bus Depot 2004

34562 NK04KZV
34563 NK04KZW
34564 NK04KZX
34565 NK04KZY
34566 NK04KZZ
34567 NK04LBA
34568 NK04LBE
34569 NK04NPE
34605 NK04NPF
34606 NK04NPJ
34607 NK04NPN
34608 NK04NPP
34609 NK04NPU
34610 NK04NPV
34611 NK04NPX
34612 NK04NPY
34613 NK04NPZ
34614 NK04NRE
34615 NK04NRF


The Hartlepool vehicles were purchased for use on Route 1, and 34550/561-68 were branded for this purpose. 34569 was the unbranded spare, which until the launch of the 'pants' Megarider campaign carried a 'take any bus' Mega-rear advertisement for the Megarider travelticket and now carries no Mega-rear. Following the shortening of Route 1 to no longer serve James Cook University Hospital in August 2007, the route branding was also reduced, with the withdrawn sections of the route peeled off the buses. The result was very sparse branding which was subsequently removed completely from the batch.

 

The South Shields arrivals allowed conversion of Services 3 & 4 to easyACCESS. 34605/6/7 received Mega-rear advertisements, for the Megarider ('take any bus' version), Dayrider and Tyne & Wear Superoute network, respectively. Following the launch of the 'pants' Megarider advertising in 2007, 34614/15 received Mega-rears for this campaign. All of the Mega-rears have subsequently been removed as vehicles have been repainted.

 

Mega-rears


Four versions of Mega-rear advertisement have been carried by the batch. The 'take any bus' Megarider version is illustrated by 34605, Dayrider by 34606, SuperRoute by 34607 and the 'pants' Megarider version by 34614.

Photos © Stagecoach North East Bus Depot 2005-2007


The Hartlepool arrivals displaced Darts (to Darlington) and B10Ms (to Stockton) while the South Shields examples allowed the departure of Olympians (to Walkergate), Darts (to Darlington) and the last of the Lynx from the South Shields fleet.

 

Interurban Service 1 is the mainstay of Pointer 2 bodied Dart SLF operations in Hartlepool; 34563 is pictured on York Road departing the town for Middlesbrough. Note the Sentence Case display and blue wheelchair logo, as latterly applied to the fleet at Hartlepool.

Photo © Stagecoach North East Bus Depot 2015

During 2007, all of the batch had their blinds reprogrammed to show Sentence Case destinations.

 

34605-15 continued to operate from South Shields until December 2011, when the first of a batch of 19 new Enviro200 midibuses (see NK61--- batch) arrived, leading to 34605/06 moving to Hartlepool and 34610/12/14 moving to Sunderland. The remainder of the new Enviro200s for South Shields arrived the following month, seeing the transfer of 34607 to Hartlepool and 34608/09/11/13/15 to Sunderland. The arrival of 34605-07 at Hartlepool and 34608-15 at Sunderland faciliated the withdrawal of the majority of ALX200 bodided low floor Darts from those depots, seeing them transferred to Newcastle or withdrawn from service.

 

After a relatively brief stay in Sunderland 34608-15 were replaced at the depot in October 2013 following the arrival of a batch of 21 new Enviro200 midibuses (see SN63--- batch). 34608 moved to Hartlepool, 34609-14 to Walkergate and 34615 to Slatyford. Their arrival at their respective depots saw the withdrawal of ALX200 bodied low floor Darts. In the case of Newcastle examples, these were largely the same ALX200s that the batch had previously replaced when they were transfered to Sunderland.

 

On the left, 34610 is seen operating Walkergate's only midibus route (15/15A) while on the right, 34612 is seen operating for Slatyford, bound for Chapel House on Service 72.

Photos © Stagecoach North East Bus Depot 2014 & 2015


October 2014 saw 34615 transferred to from Slatyford to Hartlepool, replacing the last active ALX200 bodied Dart SLF 33101. 34615 was replaced on Tyneside by ALX300 bodied MAN 18.220 A69 22675.

In March 2015, six of Slatyford's Enviro200 bodied MAN 14.220 midibuses (39721-26) were transferred to Walkergate to enable the upgrading of Services 15 & 15A. In exchange, Slatyford received 34609-14 from Walkergate.

After just four months at Slatyford, 34609-13 were withdrawn in July 2015, replaced by newer Darts from South Shields. The following month saw 34614 withdrawn and 34609/10/13 sold to Stagecoach South. September 2015 saw further departures with 34612/14 sold to Stagecoach South West. In September 2015, 34611 was transferred to South Shields, officially in reserve, but actually operating as part of the active service fleet.

34550/61-69 and 34605-8/15 continued to operate together from Hartlepool until August 2015, when 34562/65/68 and 34605/07 were withdrawn to reserve, replaced by newer Darts from Sunderland and Slatyford.

September 2015 saw 34561/67 and 34606 listed for disposal and 34569 withdrawn to reserve. In addition, 34566 and 34608/15 were sold to Stagecoach South while 34607 was sold to Stagecoach South West. In October 2015, 34550 was officially withdrawn to Reserve, though in reality remained in service at Hartlepool and 34567 was transferred from disposal to reserve. Also in October 2015, 34568/69 and 34606 were sold to Stagecoach East Scotland, and 34605 was transferred to Sunderland (officially in Reserve but operating as part of the active service fleet). All were replaced in Hartlepool by cascaded MAN 14.220s from South Shields and newer Darts from Sunderland. October 2015 also saw 34561 move from disposal to the Stockton Reserve fleet, where it remained without seeing service until March 2016 when it returned to Hartlepool, replacing 34563 which was withdrawn to reserve the following month. April 2016 also saw 34562 return to service in Hartlepool, replacing Enviro200 bodied MAN 14.240 39710, which was withdrawn to reserve. July 2016 saw 34562 return to Reserve, replaced at Hartlepool by 34563.

Following the return to service of Enviro200 39710 at Hartlepool in September 2016, 34561 was withdrawn.

In March 2017, following the arrival of 35163/72/73, 34550/63/64 were withdrawn at Hartlepool. After 18 months out of service, 34567 was transferred to Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire in March 2017, with 34562 following in early April 2017. April 2017 also saw 34605 withdrawn at Sunderland, replaced by 35189.

These vehicles are currently operated from South Shields.


The rest of the batch

In September 2015, 34609/10/13 transferred from Stagecoach South to Stagecoach South West, not having entered service with Stagecoach South. Together with 34607/12/14 which moved directly to Stagecoach South West, these vehicles all entered service at Plymouth. March 2016 saw 34612 withdrawn to reserve; 34607/09 followed in November 2016 and 34610/13 in December 2016. 34607 returned to service at Plymouth in February 2017.

Martin Arrand provides these two shots of 34609 (left) and 34610 (right), now both working from Plymouth.

Photo © Martin Arrand 2015


On arrival at Stagecoach South, 34566 & 34608 were allocated to Guildford and 34615 to Portsmouth. 34615 was withdrawn to reserve soon after arrival in Portsmouth, requiring extensive MOT work. 34615 finally entered service at Portsmouth in April 2016. May 2016 saw both 34566 and 34615 withdrawn to reserve. Since transfer to Stagecoach South, 34608/15 received orange digital destination displays. October 2016 saw 34566 listed for disposal, and the following month, the vehicle was no longer listed as part of the Stagecoach South fleet. In January 2017, 34615 was reinstated as part of the service fleet at Portsmouth.

Brendan Cross provides these two images, depicting 34566 (left) and 34608 (right) in their new home, working for Stagecoach Hants and Surrey at Guildford.

Photo © Brendan Cross 2015

The trio of vehicles from the batch which travelled north to Scotland, 34568/69 & 34606, were all allocated to Dundee, and repainted to a striking yellow 'Go Wild in Dundee' livery. All received orange digital destination displays. In August 2016, 34568 was transferred to Blairgowrie and 34606 to Arbroath. The same month saw 34569 listed for disposal; in September 2016 34569 was sold out of group to McGills where it operates as Driver Training Vehicle. In October 2016, 34568 and 34606 were both withdrawn for disposal and by the start of January 2017, the pair were no longer listed as part of the Stagecoach East Scotland fleet and both have subsequently been traced to JMB Travel (Lanarkshire) where they carry an unappealing green, silver and purple livery.


Kieran Thomson provides the image on the top left, showing 34569 in the eye catching Go Wild in Dundee livery, working for Stagecoach East Scotland while David Duffield provides the shot on the top right showing 34606 now with JMB Travel. The lower shot, provided by Fraser Murdoch, depicts 34569 as DTV with new owners, McGills.

Photos © Kieran Thomson, David Duffield and Fraser Murdoch


Recent transfers to Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire, 34562 & 34567 have arrived in Carlisle and are undergoing preparation for service, with 34565 to follow following repairs.

Lee Wardle provides this shot of 34562 looking in great condition for its age, at Carlisle depot.

Photo © Lee Wardle



The current allocations of the rest of the batch outside of the North East are: Cumbria & North Lancashire (34562/67), South (34608/15) and South West (34607/9/10/12/13/14).



 

 

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