Arriva London assists with RTW event to maintain a moving history of London
This weekend saw a group of transport enthusiasts, assisted by Arriva London’s Brixton garage and tram shed, re-introduce the classic RTW buses onto London’s streets, to celebrate 50 years since these iconic vehicles had been taken out of service.
Initially introduced into London in 1949, the RTWs were the first eight-foot-wide buses, and at first were banned from the centre of the City, because of this extra width and concerns about passing the trams of the day.
The RTW superseded the smaller, six inch narrower, RT vehicles, and were recognisable from their predecessors by the wide red panel each side of the rear destination panel. Inside the difference was also apparent as each standard double seat was fitted with a one inch wall spacer, and the other four extra inches of width, given to the gangway.
This made the seats more comfortable and the gangway much easier to move around in, even with the five standing passengers (the wartime permission to stand in the aisle had continued post war).
This weekend’s service was run on former route 95 from Cannon Street to Tooting Broadway and back, passing Arriva’s Brixton garage, by five RTW’s including the very last ever RTW to run in commercial service, RTW 467.
The event not only cheered local passengers, who hadn’t expected such novel buses to be running on their journey, but also some current and retired Arriva London Brixton garage staff, in the form of drivers Ted and Ruel, who had trained on these vehicles early in their careers.
As they both commented, “With no power steering, these weren’t the easiest of buses to drive, and sometimes if you were on a really slow tight turn, you had to stand up out of the seat to pull them round, but this is where we learnt our driving skills and we’ve never forgotten”.
“Ruel, who’s now 81, was my conductor then”, said Ted with 40 years’ service, “until he got the chance to learn to drive. We were a great team and had a great relationship with our passengers”.
In the early afternoon, Arriva London opened up their tram shed so all of the buses could be displayed for the crowd of enthusiasts that had gathered to take photographs; before the 95 route resumed and continued until early evening.
As Leon Daniels, MD Surface Transport, Transport for London, who was present at the event said:-
“This is an auspicious occasion, a really important day for us, because out there today, ordinary members of the public can travel with us on these historic buses, and they have been experiencing what it was like back in the 1950s and 1960s, riding on a bus with a crew of two, a driver and conductor, on a bus that was made in Britain by Leyland Motors, and there’s lots of things we can learn from those days, great customer service, a good high frequency service that the public enjoyed and was proud of. Those are exactly the things we are looking for today, and if we, across the whole of TfL and all our family of contractors across London, can get our passengers to smile as they have done today, then we have really done our job”.
Published : Thu 25th Feb. 2016 - Tue 29th Mar. 2016
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