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A new operating contract on route 142 resulted in new vehicles being ordered for both this and route 340, even though it was only 18 months before the 340's own contract expired. The vehicles selected were DAF DB250LFs with Transbus ALX400 bodywork – this combination had been the standard with Arriva London, but was uncommon elsewhere. Even Arriva London had switched to other combinations when these were ordered (although a few more have been built for them since), and the 142 and 350 are operated by Arriva The Shires & Essex rather than Arriva London, so the order for 25 of this combination came as something of a surprise at the time. 6011 (KL52 CXC) typifies the type as it pulls away from the main stop in Stanmore when brand new on 9 January 2003.
|Photo © Robert Munster.|
As might be surmised from its number, the 340 was created by splitting route 140 in two pieces, although in this case two rather unequal pieces with a significant overlap between Harrow and Harrow Weald. The 340 then continues via Stanmore and Canons Park to Edgware; the end to end journey time is only just over 30 minutes. However, the 140 had not served this ground for many years; before being extended from Harrow Weald in 1985, the routing was covered by a route 286 identical to the 340 now.
The 140 extension survived only two years, until the Harrow Buses scheme in November 1987, but by then the number 286 had been re-used for a route in south London, so 340 was used instead. This was one of the first routes to use a number over 300 – high route numbers have always been taboo in London, and there are still very few regular routes over 499. The route was run by Harrow Buses using new Mark II Metrobuses, but the perils of short term contracts were realised when the route was lost to London Country North West three years later. A batch of new all-Leyland Olympians appeared after a few months and survived until 2003. Operation was, and still is, from the slightly remote garage in Garston, north of Watford.
LCNW was subsequently purchased by neighbouring Luton & District, which in turn sold out to British Bus, which then sold out to the Cowie Group! Meanwhile, L&D had re-branded itself as The Shires with an attractive blue and yellow livery and local names, but Cowie’s re-launch to Arriva put paid to that even before the old L&D and LCNW liveries had been eradicated. The Olympians on the London routes seemed particularly late to receive The Shires livery and several went straight into the new Arriva aquamarine and stone. But the new contract for the 142 (and 340) specified red buses, so the standard London livery has now been adopted.
Upon re-tendering for a contract start of 4 September 2004, the 340 was retained by the incumbent operator – not surprisingly, in light of the youthfulness of its existing rolling stock; any other operator would probably have needed new buses. Additional schoolday journeys that had been operating were withdrawn, in favour of a full 12 minute frequency during Monday to Friday peak hours. This increased the vehicle requirement by one, and accordingly a 26th 'DLA' has been added to the allocation.
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