History #2 Bus Types

Browse through to look at the bus types which have been used on the 213 route over the years:

The first buses to be used on the 113 (later 213) route were  single deck B types in 1921, then S types some of which remained in operation until 1931. An important change to single-deck types was the introduction of pneumatic tyres (air filled, rather than solid), initially on K buses based at Kingston from 1926, and to the entire fleet by October 1928 which reduced the journey time from 70 to 55 minutes (Belmont – Kingston). From the 1930s – 1952, T and LTs were the official fleet although Q types were in use from 1936 and in fact, the route appears (from photos) to have run with any single-decker it could get.

Beginning on 12 December 1952, the route was converted to RF operation, running from Sutton and Norbiton Garages. This was the last single-deck type on the route, double-deck RTs being introduced in May 1963. RMs or more famously know as Routemasters were used on Sundays only from 1966.

The route became one-man operated in August 1972 with the introduction of the DMS type bus, Ms followed in 1984, NVs in 1997, EVLs in 2002, PVLs in 2007 (still used on the route) and the DOE type from 2011. The current allocation for Sutton Garage is 53 DOEs, 17 PVLs of which 19 vehicles run the 213 on weekdays.

Lots of letters and dates – but the important thing for me is thinking about the experience of being on these buses, the noise, smell, and feel of them and also their visual place in both constructing views of the urban landscape (the view out) and their visual identity on the road. Old photos of these buses on the route are both strikingly familiar and at the same time jarring, like looking at an alternative universe…

I’m not a bus expert, so if you spot errors or can pad out my account, please comment. Other important things to learn from bus design and manufacture are: material wealth of society / bus companies; the need for greater capacity; regulation or de-regualtion of rules on bus design (police standards were incredibly restrictive in the early 20th century); the environmental impacts of bus travel – e.g. if a bus travels empty it is more damaging than a car – so judging required capacity is essential.


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