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The 466 is essentially the old 166 renumbered, though the 166 lives on along the Coulsdon Purley Croydon corridor. The 166 was to be withdrawn from its traditional terminus at Chipstead Valley and diverted to Caterham-on-the-Hill, replacing the less frequent 400 (Caterham Wallington). The replacement to Chipstead Valley would have been an extension of route 412, which takes a rather roundabout route to reach central Croydon. The locals protested at this, so, although the main 166 service was diverted as planned, it was renumbered 466 in order to allow the 166 number to be retained for the Chipstead Valley service.
At the other end, the new 166 runs to West Croydon Bus Station, whereas the old one, and now the 466, had run to Shirley for at least the last decade. The 166 was the main route to serve Shirley Way, but in the summer of 1998 there was a substantial re-organisation of bus services in the Croydon area in preparation for Tramlink, and one of the changes was the 166/466 change. The 466 only ran as far as Shirley Library, Shirley Way instead being served by the 194. This was so that, in turn, the 466 could be diverted at Shirley Park to Addington Village, serving Addington Hills which would otherwise have been busless following the planned withdrawal of the 130, the main bus route from New Addington to Croydon before Tramlink started.
A major tendering excercise in 2003 saw significant expansion for Metrobus, and one of the routes won from 30 August was the 466. Operation was initially from Godstone, though this later closed with the London routes transferring to a new base in Beddington. New Scania Omnidekkas were ordered for the route. However, following completion of the 5-year contract term the route was awarded to Arriva (which already operates the 166), and is now based at South Croydon garage once again. The former running number series starting at 61 has since been used for the 194, so now the route has returned it has taken a new 361+ block.
|Photo © Richard Pywell.|
Arriva has had to introduce a new chassis type to its fleet for the latest double deck deliveries, as its preferred manufacturers, VDL/DAF and Volvo, are not currently able to provide vehicles to London specification. They have gone for the Trident-based Enviro400 from Alexander Dennis, a vehicle designed very much with London in mind. Two photos are provided here, both made on the first day of Arriva operation, 30 August 2008, and typify the attractive scenery to be found at the outer ends of the route. The first view is of T52 (LJ08 CYE) at the Shirley Park roundabout, about to ascend into Shirley Hills, with the Crystal Palace television mast visible in the background. "Addington Village" is a fictitious destination, but is the name of the tram stop by the bus station where the route terminates, and which acts as an interchange between trams and feeder buses from the New Addington and Forestdale areas.
|Photo © Richard Pywell.|
T49 (LJ08 CYK), meanwhile, was caught just a little further along, having set down a passenger outside The Sandrock, in yesteryear a favourite watering hole for daytrippers to the adjacent Addington Hills. This end of the route is generally very lightly loaded, as shown in these two photographs a 10 minute frequency with double deckers is far in excess of the traffic requirements for much of the week, although a couple of large schools in the area can produce heavy loadings at certain times of day. Prior to Tramlink opening this was the road used by the trunk 130 (and peak express version X30) linking New Addington with central Croydon, with a bus up to every 4 minutes during peak hours!
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