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Home to many families on low incomes, the vast New Addington overspill estate sprawls across the foothills of the North Downs, ironically affording vistas of the centres of world finance in the Square Mile and Docklands. Despite being physically separated from London's suburbia by a ridge of Green Belt woodland (seen below in the middle distance), New Addington lies just within the Greater London boundary, and therefore has historically been provided with an intensive public transport service not usually enjoyed by communities this far out from Central London.
The upgrading of the public transport lifeline to Croydon (and hence to Central London) brought in 2000 by Tramlink has enhanced the employment prospects for residents of some of the most deprived wards in the Borough, and is even reportedly attracting first time property buyers from elsewhere. Unfortunately the hilly nature of many parts of New Addington (illustrated here) prevents Tramlink from serving all residents directly, hence the introduction of the highly subsidised T31 and T32 feeder bus routes offering free transfer to trams.
The T32 was introduced with the tram system on 11 May 2000, originally run by First Centrewest using Tramlink-liveried Marshall bodied Darts. It is a pretty short route, with running time of just 15 minutes, but connects with trams at both ends. In between, the service runs through some of the less densely populated areas of New Addington, and rarely (in contrast to the T31) seems to carry many passengers.
Perhaps that is why it was planned to withdraw the route when the contract expired in 2007, with routes 130 and T31 being re-configured to cover the sections that would have been left unserved, but protests about the reduced service on Headley Drive, which would have had its service reduced from 12 to just 4 buses per hour, saw the route reprieved at the last minute. An emergency contract was negotiated with First, allowing the route to continue at a reduced frequency.
The route was then put out to tender properly and awarded to Metrobus from April 2008; following tender losses First decided to sell the Orpington to Metrobus anyway in December 2007. Metrobus ordered new MANs with Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bodywork, a most unusual combination; these were eventually delivered almost one year late! On 2 June 2009 Metrobus 706 (YX58 DXB) toils up King Henry’s Drive from Goldcrest Way towards the Vulcan Way industrial estate. Tower 42 and the Gherkin (some 12 miles away) form the backdrop. This stretch of road was not served at all immediately prior to 2000, though there had been limited service from time to time in the past.
|Photo © Richard Pywell.|
The E200 bodied MANs have the offside emergency exit most unusually located in the centre of the vehicle on the low floor section, as can be seen in this view of an unidentified member of the batch on the same day, turning from Goldcrest Way to tackle the hill shown above. Its loading of 100% fresh air should not prove too burdensome for the climb! The numbering of these buses follows on from a batch of MANs with East Lancs bodywork on route R2, and have been followed by some with MCV bodywork giving Metrobus three variants!
|Photo © Richard Pywell.|
Despite its primary function of complementing the 314 and generally running at the same frequency, the two routes’ timetables are not co-ordinated and spacing is poor at times.
Thanks to Richard Pywell for contributing some of the text for this article.
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