ASC’s last Leyland withdrawn

Arriva Southern Counties has withdrawn its last Leyland, an Olympian, from service. New in 1993, the vehicle is leaving the fleet following the entry into service of its £3m fleet of 11 Volvo B5LH hybrid double deckers at Maidstone in April, coupled with the ongoing transfer from London of mid-life low floor DAF and Volvo double deckers. Its single deck fleet has also been updated in the first quarter of this year with 36 new buses that are being followed by other refurbished vehicles from London. It represents the end of a long line of Leylands that started one hundred years ago when Arriva’s predecessor in west Kent, Maidstone & District Motor Services (M&D), took delivery in May 1913 of a 32hp Leyland with 32 seat front entrance bodywork by Dodson. The vehicle stayed in the fleet until 1925, by which time Leyland single deckers in both open top charabanc and closed top service bus forms had appeared in large numbers as the company expanded its operations.

Over the ensuing decades M&D bought considerable numbers of Leyland buses and coaches, with the manufacturer being the company’s main supplier of large batches of vehicles throughout its history, until Volvo took over and the Leyland name was no more. In recent times, Arriva Southern Counties’ last Olympian has been running for its New Enterprise Coaches’ fleet at Tonbridge, still carrying Arriva colours and used on school runs in the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells area.

Arriva Southern Counties’ Regional Publicity Manager, Richard Lewis, said, ‘Over the years, M&D bought hundreds of Leyland vehicles and it is testament to the quality of its products that the name lives on, albeit in small numbers of vehicles still operating for bus and coach companies. Although 5910 has left its traditional home area it is still earning its keep, helping out on a short term basis at Arriva the Shires & Essex while their Enviro400s are away for upgrading to Sapphire standard.’

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