21 February 2010

Metrobuses & WMPTE

As someone who worked with WMPTE's Metrobuses, Steven Knight explains in a little more detail the MCW Metrobus' raison d'ĂȘtre, which we hope those interested in, and saddened by the demise of, this iconic West Midlands vehicle will find enlightening.

It was never West Midlands PTE’s plan to concentrate its 1980s double deck fleet on the Metrobus, but Leyland’s problems and the decision to close the Park Royal plant meant that there was no chance of the PTE receiving a batch of 135 Leyland Titan’s that it had ordered.

Following trials with five prototype Metrobuses (6831-35) of which 6832 was based in East Division, five prototype Leyland Titans (7001-05) of which 7005 was allocated to Coventry and Rolls Royce-engined examples which after operating from Perry Barr and Washwood Heath settled at Acocks Green garage.

Prior to 7001-05 being delivered, the PTE operated Leyland Titan prototype FHG592S.

The initial plan was to order 175 Metrobuses (2001-2175) and 135 Leyland Titans. With the Leyland Titan order cancelled, MCW gained an additional contract for 100 buses (2176-2275), with the balance of 35 buses being filled by Leyland National 2s 7018-7052.

A further 160 buses completed the Mk1 Metrobus contract, being delivered as 2276-2435. The engineers at the PTE were keen to take further Ailsa double decks, but the masters at the PTA were insistent that bus buying must be local and so the PTE option for 125 Metrobuses and 35 Ailsas became the 160 Metrobus Contract.

In an almost rebellious gesture the PTE did operate a late-model Ailsa/Alexander double deck for several months when TGG386W, destined for Strathclyde PTE was operated – in full West Midlands PTE livery. 2435 was the last of the Mk1 Metrobus fleet. The next deliveries, starting at 2436, were of the modified Mk2 type. And of the five prototype Titans – they were sold in 1984 to London Transport.

I worked in the PTE's Technical Engineering office from 1978 until 1986 and was responsible for co-ordinating Warranty Claims against MCW - then based on 12-months or 40,000 miles. This kept me in contact with the garages, but also with MCW including several visits to Washwood Heath. It also allowed me to borrow a Northern example for display when I jointly organised a (small) bus rally in Nuneaton in 1981.

No comments: