Having unveiled the new generation E400MMC during 2014, it was only a matter of time before the demonstrator vehicles would be doing the rounds. Then by the time the Euro Bus Expo 2014 arrived at the NEC in Birmingham. The Oxford Bus Company (OBC) and Reading Transport were placing their first examples of the new E400MMC's into service. The Brookes University had 605-614 with selected registration numbers, later OBC had staff members names to these vehicles. All are in an overall grey livery with Brookes branding. Meanwhile Reading had delivered eight vehicles as their 751-8, all but 758 introduced a new variation of the claret livery for route 21. 758 has been painted into the generic grey livery, so it can be deployed around the whole Reading bus network. 16 more E400MMC's are due fro delivery in March 2015 for Reading.
Then during late November/early December the first of 29 new E400MMC deckers arrived at Stagecoach Manchester Sharston depot, were 10401-10429 (SL62HZG/ J/K/M-N/P/R-Z, JAO/U, JBE/O/U/V/X-Z, JCJ/O/U/V). 10401-9 were sat inside the bus garage and being prepared for service. By Christmas 2014 the initial few 10401-9 were placed into service on the 85/86 Chorlton service and the 109 service to a hospital in the Manchester area. On December 30th 2014, a visit to Manchester was quickly decided upon, just to catch up with the latest deliveries and the new look MMC double deckers. Adbellio, Metroline and Stagecoach in London are also having E400MMC's delivered, but these have not entered service (at the time of writing).
Arriving by Trans-Pennine Express 185 class train into Manchester Piccadilly, then meeting up with a fellow enthusiast, it was time to wait for the new MMC's to arrive. The first one was 10402, which completed its first trip out on the 86 service, with nearside advert for an E4 TV show, offside blank. This bus was quickly followed by 10408, again on 86 service, all these vehicles entered the Piccadilly Gardens Bus station near the Metrolink tram stop. Pausing to drop off passengers, to run around the bus station to pick up passengers on the other side. The new E400MMC buses are easy to identify as there is now no orange sweep across the upper deck front windows, behind the blue. After 10408 departed Piccadilly, the next to arrive was 10404, followed by 10401 and 10406 all on the 85/86 route. Then after a breakfast stop, three more new stagecoach E400MMC's were out and about, 10405, 10409 and 10403 were also out.
With the new MMC type vehicles now arriving at Manchester, it has allowed Stagecoach to update the Magic Bus off-shoot of the operation. The Magic bus started way back ( in 1997) when Stagecoach had acquired Duple Mestec bodied Dennis Dragon chassis from its overseas operations. These buses were re-registered and placed into service on the 142, 143 & 145 services in direct competition with Bullocks of Manchester, since purchased by Stagecoach. Along with East Yorkshire owned Finglands services, which has since passed to First Group during 2014. The Magic Bus brand is now only running in Manchester, after operations in Glasgow and Sheffield were stopped. It still runs along the Winslow Road corridor. The Dennis Dragon buses from Kenya were replaced by Volvo Olympians, which have been replaced by Dennis Tridents with Alexander ALX400 bodies or a mixture of East Lancashire bodied Tridents as well. Older ADL E400 vehicles are currently undergoing an overhaul scheme and they will be turned out into a new bolder/simplified Magic Bus livery. 19223 (MX08GJZ) entered the paint shop in early December 2014 and was out in service on the 30th of December, working on the 142 service.
Here are my personal views on bus activity in my area and beyond