What Goes Around Comes Around

In what seems to be a continuing losing streak, today's short post will focus on route 196  which has become one of the routes to be lost by Go Ahead London. Saturday the 5th of May 2018 saw the route leave its home of Stockwell (SW) garage and move over to Abellio London at Walworth (WL) garage. They've introduced brand new Enviro400 MMCs numbered from 2603-2618. 

E9 seen in a commercial livery on route 196
© LondonBuses72
Route 196 has quite an interesting history, originally created in Autumn 1950 its original route was almost nothing like the route that is in operation. It ran between Tufnell Park Hotel and Waterloo only operating on Mondays and Saturdays. The route ran right through Central London passing Russell Square, Holborn and Aldwych. Less than a year later in July 1951 the route was extended from Waterloo to Norwood Junction and a Sunday service was added between Norwood Junction and Waterloo, although this didn't last long and in 1958 the Sunday service was withdrawn. 1971 saw the route cut from Tufnell Park to Euston, and in 1974 the route was rerouted to Brixton via route 3 and therefore removing the route from Central London although in 1985 certain journeys in the peaks were extended via Central London to Islington Green, this was the reversed in 1992. In 2005 the route was extended to Elephant & Castle and this forms the route that is in operation today. 

E7 seen at Vauxhall Bus Station
© EastLondoner
During its previous contract term the route was allocated with Go Ahead's first batch of Enviro400s, numbered from E1 to E15. Although as the years progressed other types of buses did frequently visit the route, types included the prototype E40Hs, production E40Hs, Wright Eclipse Gemini 2s that were on both the B9TL and B5LH chassis, Wright Eclipse Gemini 3s which were of the "frog face" design, and even some of Go Ahead's own E40H Enviro400 MMCs, however, the original Enviro400s ordered for the route remained the staple allocation for the duration of two contracts. These buses are now expected to move to the Go Ahead commercial fleet, with some of the buses already painted into the commercial livery before they've even left TfL service. E9 was one of the buses and LondonBuses72 caught up with the bus on the last day of Go Ahead operation on route 196, which can be seen pictured at the top of this post. Funnily enough prior to being taken on by Go Ahead London, route 196 was operated by Connex and Travel London out of Beddington Cross (BC) which were Abellio's predecessors, therefore similar to route 468 a few weeks ago this change can also be seen as a "homecoming". 

WVL443 seen at Vauxhall Bus Station
© EastLondoner
2615 seen on stand at Elephant & Castle
© EastLondoner
Go Ahead wrapped up their stint on route 196 with E1 being the last bus, somewhat fitting considering that was the first Enviro400 for Go Ahead, as well as apparently being the first 196 to operate after Go Ahead took on the route in 2006. I caught up with the route on its first day to try out the buses and see how the operation was doing. My bus ride was going to be 2615 which initially started service on route 45 on the first of May. Upon boarding the famous "new bus smell" was evident and it wasn't long until we were off towards Stockwell. It was plain sailing until Vauxhall, where we got stuck in a bit of traffic. It was once again plain sailing afterwards until just before Elephant where we got stuck in another traffic jam, although that is to be expected by that place by this point.

Service on the first day was suffering from the famous "first day syndrome" with large gaps and bunchings evident, although I am sure as time goes on Abellio will get the hang of this route and provide a good service for the next 5, or maybe 7 years. The buses themselves live up to the standards that other MMCs have set, nothing about this batch sets it apart from other batches, although that's not to say that they are poor buses, they are good quality buses however I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to ride them.

2610 seen at Brixton Station towards Norwood Junction
© EastLondoner
Next in line for new MMCs are Stagecoach and Go Ahead London for recent retains and wins, although there's something special about those which you will find out in a later post! The rest of May is looking pretty quiet for tender changes although you guys are in for a very fun June!