From 31st December, Stagecoach will run a new service 715 from Guildford to Kingston upon Thames, via Ripley, Cobham & Esher, operated on behalf of Surrey County Council.
To mark the start of the new service, some journeys on Saturday 31st December 2016 will be run using an historic London bus, a double deck Routemaster coach that previously operated the former Green Line route 715 during the 1960s.
Stagecoach South Managing Director Edward Hodgson said: "We are delighted to be launching this new service within Surrey. We have a strong track record of attracting more people to bus travel and we will continue to focus on providing good value, high-quality services for people in the area."
The vintage bus journeys will be provided by preserved Routemaster coach RMC1461 (reg. 461 CLT) which was delivered new to London Transport in August 1962. The RMC class was a coach version of the famous 'Red London bus' for use on longer distance Green Line routes. RMCs featured modified suspension and interiors to allow a longer range and more comfortable running. They were also fitted with fewer seats than their red counterparts for extra legroom, using deeper cushioning for comfort plus all had an electrically operated rear door instead of an open platform.
Edward added "We are grateful to London Bus Museum at Brooklands for providing their Routemaster bus for our launch day. It is important to be proud of our heritage. A very large number of our customers have never been on a bus where a conductor comes around and hands you a ticket, but that is what buses were like and it shows passengers how things used to be and just how much bus travel has evolved."
Stagecoach have been working with Surrey County Council to maintain a service between Guildford and Kingston which was otherwise in danger of disappearing, following some contractual changes to a number of bus routes within the county.
The new service 715 replaces for the most part, the former Abellio service 515. On Mondays to Saturdays an improved travel opportunity is offered between Guildford and Kingston, with a more direct route and a timetable which offers improved frequency.
On Mondays to Saturdays, buses will run hourly until early evening, with the last bus from Guildford at 1750 and a 1900 journey to Cobham. The last bus from Kingston is at 1925. On Sundays and public holidays, route 715 will run every 90 minutes and will divert between Esher and Winters Bridge via Lower Green, Douglas Road, Ember Lane, Imber Court and Thames Ditton, to give those areas a Sunday service.
The timetable can also be seen on the London Bus Routes website and you can view it here. The map of the route provided by Traveline can be seen here.
To wrap up this article, some more news from LOTS:
The last day of 2016 duly saw the major changes in Surrey (see TLB628 pages 16/17). First Berkshire used E200s on route 555 and Stagecoach Dart SLFs and E200s on route 715. Cardinal used two Tridents on route 557 as a temporary measure while their two Darts are being prepared. Falcon Coaches had two 8.9m Enviro200s on routes 514/515 and Hallmark had four (from a batch of five) Scania OmniLinks on route 458. The London Bus Museum ran a special service on the 715 using RMC1461 although RML2760 covered part of the first journey until the RMC was up-and-running. The RMC (and RML) duplicated selected Stagecoach 715 journeys, while green RF644 was a ‘camp follower’ to the RMC as well.
As always, I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92