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Route S1 has been operated by Epsom Buses since 1997, when the route was taken over from London General. LG had voluntarily surrendered the route, with the 413, due to staff shortages, and Epsom Buses took it on. Since then, the route has been re-tendered twice and both times was awarded to Epsom Buses (now trading as Quality Line) in its own right.
Epsom Buses originally took on some of London Generalís fleet of Optare MetroRiders, but they were soon replaced by new Mini Pointer Darts. Both the new contracts have been won on the basis of new vehicles, so the route has now had three batches of short low floor Darts, all with different makes of bodywork! The new buses in 2002 were Alexander ALX200 bodied. The latest vehicles are strictly speaking Enviro200Dart chassis, and are equipped with East Lancs Esteem bodies.
|Photo © James Fullick.|
Two views have been provided, both taken at the Banstead terminus outside Marks & Spencer on 23 February. Above is SD44 (PE56 UFJ) Note the rather bizarre specification of dual doors, taking up 1/3 of the length of the bus! As a result, despite being half a metre longer than the vehicles they replaced, they actually have a lower passenger capacity.
|Photo © James Fullick.|
The S1 began operation in 1993 with London & Country, running between Beddington Corner to Sutton via roads which were in the main previously unserved. At the Sutton end there was a deviation via Langley Park Road before buses terminated at Sutton station. This latter section was altered to a loop working in 1995.
The route was tendered as part of the Sutton network from 30 November 1996, and the new contract was awarded to London General using new Marshall Minibuses from Sutton garage. The aforementioned loop via the north end of Langley Park Road was replaced by route S3, and the S1 was instead sent to Banstead to replace the 80, giving it a rather more prestigious role. Between Sutton and Belmont, buses were diverted via the south end of Langley Park Road, replacing the S3!
As mentioned above, London General suffered a very severe staff shortage, and consequently gave up several of its routes, one being the S1, just a year into its contract. Epsom Buses stepped in, but did not want the Marshall Minibuses, which had proved to be pretty dreadful, and instead took MetroRiders, making for an unusual conversion from low floor to step entrance buses. Nevertheless, EB presided over several mid-contract improvements. An evening and Sunday service was introduced for the first time during the summer of 1998, and then as mentioned above new MPD Darts were ordered to replace the MetroRiders, and these entered service over the turn of 1998/99.
A new contract starting in December 2001 incorporated a daytime frequency boost from every 30 to 20 minutes, and the route was usefully diverted from Beddington Corner (in the middle of nowhere) to Mitcham.
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