13/02/2017

5 Years of the WLTM Transport Blog

13/02/12, 0809hrs. That was when the WLTMTB, back then as the WLTM Blog was first formed.
5 years later, 11 people have come to the blog. Some have stayed, some have gone. But what's here is something that I just can't imagine back then.

This year, we are giving you a tad about a recent/notable photo that we have taken over the past few years, and a tad about ourselves.

Aubrey:
111 & N9
(© Aubrey)

This photo may be each an allocated working on these two routes, but without these two bus routes, I wouldn't have ended up as a transport enthusiast, or be the fairly interesting person that I am today. SP7 on the 111 is a normal working, with the bus starting out at Shepherd's Bush for the 148. Through allocation at Hounslow Heath on the H91 (my third favourite bus route), it is now at Hounslow, allocated to all double decker routes. SP170 on the N9 is actually a part of a batch for the 111. Both are OmniCity double deckers with different chassis/engine combinations. SP7 is a N94UD, SP170 is a N230UD.

The two routes are personally important, and thus are my favourite routes. The 111 used to be the way I'd go to get to Heathrow Airport, where I used to watch planes in the early 2000s. Through the various buses on the 111 (B7TL with ALX400, President bodies, as well as the odd step entrance bus), I started to become interested in buses, along with other transport modes. Since then, I have gained more knowledge, experience and time to the point where I felt I could write about it. However, I started a tad late, in 2012, when I did think about it since about 2007! Oh well, I finally started to gain friends who were enthusiasts, and since then, things have gotten on pretty well. University might have hampered the ability to write posts as frequently as I have done before, but I've still got the motivation and the passion to continue with the blog. My night photos have only gotten better over time, with increased practice on all-night night bus observations, as seen on Flickr. The blog has grown massively over the past few years, and it's been a great, albeit slightly rough ride! I never knew the ramblings about transport would mean something, but the days out associated with this blog were nothing short of amazing!
The WLTMTB wouldn't be where it is today without the rest of the team, past or present.
A group of friends who are pretty awesome in some way or another!

Thus thanks are in order for James, Lewis, Josh, Tom, Jacek, Anthony, Omar, Tommy, Felix and Patrick for the past, present and the future of the WLTMTB, as well as the wonderful time as friends!


Lewis:
Boris the Alien
(© Lewis)

Introducing the VHR, a somewhat prototypical vehicle of which there are currently only 6 iterations. They’re a modge of the standard Volvo B5LH / Gemini 3 and the New Bus for London, which iron out the functional flaws of the latter and the ghastly design of the former. I really like them – they’re a mix of something traditionally London (the interior, for example, is gorgeous) but yet they’re a conventional bus.
This particular vehicle, VHR45203 had had a bit of a history even before it had entered TFL service. Prior to this picture it appeared at the Bus Driver of the Year 2016 event in Blackpool and was next seen on the 23A at Imber.
The photo captured above was the bus’s first London service working – yes it entered service on school route 618 and not the high-profile 13 as was expected. It had also had a mini-makeover with new fleetcodes and logos, as well as a new registration – LJ16MUV from LJ16EXD.
The rest of the 6 VHRs gradually entered service in the following couple of months allocated to route 13. Since then a strange reallocation has seen them switch to the 183 – quite why I’m unsure but rumours have suggested it’s to do with the fact that LTs have are open-boarding whereas these do not, leading to fare-dodging. Whether or not they will move to the 139 in April remains to be seen.
With the new Mayor stopping orders for the bigger LT, I somewhat doubt if operators will choose to opt for the lookalike SRM given its political affluence, so perhaps there will only ever be 6 of these great vehicles. Others seem to prefer the more popular ADL version – the Enviro400 City – but I think this is far classier. A London bus on a Volvo chassis, where else do you look?!

This is my contribution to the 5th year post on this blog. I don’t write much these days, but with work becoming increasingly more challenging it’s difficult to find time to do other things. I’m also becoming less inclined to follow the updates within London, vehicles are all very similar and an operator change simply isn’t particularly interesting any more unless I’ve a personal connection to it. If anyone reading this feels the same as I do, find another interesting place. I often venture out into Buckinghamshire, where buses travel far faster and are generally better vehicles too! Commercial operations are seriously taking hold at the moment to grab as many passengers as they can what with constant government and council cuts, so make the most of it!
I hope to publish a thorough Carousel update in the coming months, which as most of you know is the company I like to involve myself with. I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the 5th year post and what my fantastic friends and co-writers have to say!

Josh:
The first silver service to Oxford
(© Josh)

It’s been 5 years for the blog and almost as long for me too. I’m Josh, I joined the blog back in 2013 and have been posting ever since….. Yeah that was the plan at least.
I’ve not written for the blog in a very long time, this certainly being the first piece in at least a year. My interests over time have changed, moving away from the bus focused side that the blog mainly covers. I’ve also been rather occupied these last few seasons not finding any spare time to write, which I do enjoy doing.
The photo I have chosen is this. The first 68 set to venture past Oxford Parkway in passenger service. (This involved a 3am coach just for this working). Being my favourite class of locomotive, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this. Even with only a half hour nap on the coach!
I have some spare time now these days, so I hope to get round to writing for the blog again. I hope you continue to read the blog, we couldn’t be here without you.

Jacek:
Last of a kind - Stagecoach Selkent 17478, LX51FLP at Surrey Quays on route 47 to Bellingham
(© Jacek)

I joined the blog a bit later than most of the others (still about 2 years ago now) so with that and the amount I write on here, I may not be the most prolific blogger. Generally I like to wander out to capture old (more interesting) buses out and about, or just for fun. So I'm not always there at most service changes. As times change I've grown less interested in London's bus scene and more into buses outside London as I find journeys there more enjoyable. Then again, which enthusiast doesn't?

I'm quite a nostalgic person, as anyone who knows me can tell. So instead of choosing my personal best photo, I chose that slightly blurred photo of a Euro2 Trident on the 47. It seems like only yesterday that these lovely buses were dominating east and south-east London, practically every corner I took I'd see one of them. By the time that picture was taken, they were going the way of the Titans and Olympians they had replaced back in the late 90s/early 2000s. So that was a good excuse to spend a chilly Christmas Eve morning outside. As the Flickr caption hints at, this was the last Euro2 Trident in TL, and later became one of the last in London running rail replacement extras on the 47. It's now sadly turned into Coke cans. Tridents in general, along with the other first-generation low floor buses, are largely vanishing from London. A shame, the newer stuff is less interesting *cough* 1000 almost identical LTs *cough*

Omar:
First West of England 32283/WR03YZS | Route 19A | Cribbs Causeway
(© Omar)
I honestly think this is one of the best shots I've taken. Playing around with your camera does indeed get you somewhere! I may as well put this here as well, not only for the purposes of being here for the sake of it, but also as a reminder that not just the blog itself, but each member here, grew and prospered.

So, I'm pretty much the newbie here. It's pretty much safe to say I've slotted in here really quickly and came to get along very comfortably with the other members (okay that was a bit of a lie, I've known the members here for a while and bear in mind that the blog is indeed formed of a group of friends!) It's quite unbelievable how quick 5 years can pass. It feels like only yesterday when I was in year 5 revising for my SATs, and now I'm pretty much the resident crazy traveler of my family. Traveling has always been a big thing in my life and my love of traveling lured me into becoming a transport enthusiast. Upon joining the blog, I could finally put my wanderlust to good use. Sometimes, I'd travel alone, but it's truly best with others, and rarely does it get better than with other members on the blog!

Tommy:
Rarer then a good TfL service!
(© Tommy)

Whilst it's nowhere near the best picture I've taken at night, the sheer rareness of the working more then makes up for the picture quality.
Here we see Metroline TP446 on the only occasion that a TP slipped out onto the 16 at Kilburn Station back in November 2015. This was at the time when TPs were still in use at Cricklewood Garage following the 558 Victoria line rail replacement in the summer, but their appearance on anything other than the 32 or 210 was extremely rare. The TPs were being used as cover for a lack of LT vehicles that were due for the 168, which was running with hybrid E400s at the time. The handful of TPs were mainly on the 32 and the 210, but one had made its way onto both the 139 and 189 too during their short spell at Cricklewood. Those of you who follow me on Flickr may also notice a link to this post and my page; the link being my Flickr handle which is TP446, taken from this very working!

The TPs arrived during my early days at Cricklewood and consolidated my liking of President bodied buses. This was a time when my local route, the 140, was fully allocated with Plaxton President Volvos! All the TPs that were at Cricklewood within their first month or so of entering TfL service had been copped by me; both riding and on camera.

Finally I should probably give a little about me too! I have the luck of both being interested in transport, or working for it too. By trade I design bus blinds, both smartblind paper and LED, in addition to service maps and route performances, at present.
My interest in transport began from a very early age and back then consisted mainly of buses. Going back I can still remember the old London United 140 Leylands, plus the mixture of Sovereign cream and blue, and orange on the 114! When I got my first camera nearly five years ago, I mainly focused on trains, and the London Underground in particular. Since I started working for the buses I rediscovered my bus passion and switched back to covering bus stories, though I do my best to keep the trains side of me going too!
I am also one of the newest members of the blog, and I'm coming up to my five month anniversary on the team too! I have already done a couple of posts, the BusExpo one being my first! My main area of coverage is NW London ranging from new vehicles to service changes, to just your everyday shots! Both Central London, and parts of SW London can come under my radar too.
Here's to more posts in the future and to however many more years on the blog. Who knows, this could still be my picture of choice come the Ten Year anniversary ...

And now, we introduce with an expansion into Essex, two new members of the WLTM Transport Blog!:

Felix:
IMG_8982
(CC Felix)

I'm Felix, I hail from Southend in Essex and I enjoy photography and computing, and obviously transport. I really love the light in this photo. The sunset looks absolutely gorgeous, and the street lighting provides some lovely orange hues. The water reflects the sky, and the Air Line cuts through it, which, despite not being pushed by the new Mayor, continues to ferry tourists across the river.

Patrick:
DSC04889
(© Patrick)

I waited with much excitement for the ‘New Bus for London’ to be rolled out at the time I took this photograph. I was eager to see the return of the Conductor or “CSA” as TfL put it. Route 24 was one of my local routes during the time the NBfL was introduced. Having lived most of my life in the Mornington Crescent area, I familiarised myself with the variety of routes that passed near my street, many of which now too operate with NBfLs.

I’m Patrick, a London Transport enthusiast but also interested in trains and buses outside Greater London. I travel around London on occasion, by road as well as rail.

It's been a wonderful 5 years being on the internet, and members old and new have come and gone, but the WLTM Transport Blog soldiers on. We definitely would not have done it without you, the readers. Thank you all, from the eight-strong WLTM Transport Blog team; Aubrey, Lewis, Josh, Jacek, Omar, Tommy, Felix and Patrick.

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