Buses in Medway and surrounding area

I live in Medway, and here is a guide to my local buses. Surprisingly, Medway has quite a few good buses (and also some very boring ones). In this guide I have tried to explain the character of each type of bus.

Most people who photograph buses, simply state what type of bus it is. I think this doesn't explain the character of the bus, as one type of bus can be very different with different batches. For example the ALX400 B7TLs in Medway are extremely different to the ones in London. Apart from how they look on the outside, there are no similarities between them. So if you were to simply state that there are ALX400 B7TLs in Medway you would have totally missed whats interesting about them.

UPDATE: Since DB have taken over Arriva, a lot of the interesting buses have been got rid off. A lot of crappy second hand buses have now entered service. Medway no longer has the consistancy of a nice load of awesome buses from over the years, now the buses are a miss-match of a few nice ones and loads of crap ex-london ones.

Here is my map of the routes the buses in this guide run on

And now, before I begin my bus guide, lets take a look at an awesome old bus...

1912 J&E Hall bus

This is Medway's first ever type of bus. It ran from Chatham to Maidstone.

This bus was built by the local company J&E hall, Who used to be a very large engineering company in dartford. They used to make all sorts of different machinery, including lifts, escalators, refrigeration units, and pretty much anything else. They had a large factory in the center of Dartford, and they even built their own houses for their workers called Hallford. But, today the company is very small and just makes refrigeration units (Their factory has since been demolished, and horrid large shed style shops have been built on the site).

This bus has been preserved and often goes on bus rallies. It goes over 20mph which is fast for a bus this old.

Maidstone and District Bus Company

The Buses in Medway were run by Maidstone and District until 1998, when they were brought out by Arriva.

I can only just about remember Maidstone and District, from when I was very young in the 1990s. Back then the bus services were few and far between. there were nowhere near as many buses as there is today.

I really like old buses, but this guide is about the buses that I can remember going on, therefore any busess that went out of service before the late 90s are not in this guide. If you want to find out about these buses, there is plenty of information out there, just search google.

And now lets start the guide to buses in Medway and the surronding area. These first buses all were originally Maidstone and District buses before arriva took over.

Bristol VRs (1978)

I can barely remember these buses in service, they were replaced when I was just a few years old. My memories of these are so faint I can barely remember anything at all about them, I had totally forgotten about them until I went on one at the the M&D100 event.

Date - 1978
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 2 mph/second
Gearbox - Pre-select
Number in service - were replaced ages ago

AWESOME Old Northern Counties (Volvo Citybus)

One of my favourite types of bus. They are full of character, and have a certain style you just don't get with modern buses. They have an old style suspension, that doesn't ever sway side to side like modern buses. Also they have a very nice old style interior.

These are really nice and old, and are very rattly, and often have gearbox problems. These buses have a lot of character. A few years ago Arriva painted these buses yellow, and they are now mainly used for school journeys, or if Arriva run out of other buses. (I can remember when it was Maidstone and District, these were actually used on the fast 101 route between Gillingham and Maidstone. it took 1 hour if you were lucky - nowadays it takes 40 minutes!)

In 2013 the twats at Arriva have now got rid of these. Disgusting.

Date - 1980s
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - ZF (Citybus version)
Number in service - Gil: 0 (was 5)


DULL Northern Counties (Volvo Olympian)

These are some later version ones, and are nowhere near as interesting. They are rather dull sounding and don't have much character. Arriva has these all over the south east.

Update Arriva has now got rid of the last of these. The last route running them was the 6/7 Maidstone to Tunbridge Wells route. This now has ex-London Wrightbuses.

Date - 1990s
Max Speed - 50mph?
Max Acceleration - 2 mph/second
Gearbox - ZF
Number in service - used to be loads


Dennis Dominator

These were 2 very nice old buses. In 2011 these were sadly replaced. These operated out of Arrivas Maidstone depot.

One of these buses (N715TPK) was brought by bus enthusasts at the Southern Counties Omnibus Collection.

Northern Counties 2 (Awesome VOITH)

These are one of my favourite buses. There are a couple of these, they run out of Arriva's Tunbridge Wells depot. They often run local routes around Tunbridge/Tunbridge Wells and sometimes do the 6/7 route to Maidstone (these never come to Medway).


Optare Metroriders

These were some very small midi buses, I liked these because they were very small and different to all the other buses (although I seem to be the only person in the world who likes them!). But a few years ago Arriva got rid of these. This photo is the last time I ever saw one (taken in sept 2008). This was before I started filming on youtube (in Feb 2009) so I do not have any video of them or any other photos.

Date - 1990s
Max Speed - 50mph?
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - Old Allison
Number in service - none (used to be loads)

Mercedes Benz midi buses

Small midi buses similar to the Optares but not quite as good. They were last in regular service in Medway in 2009 on route 100 (St Mary's Island to Chatham). In 2010 they were just left in the Gillingham depot incase they were needed, then later sent to Sheerness depot on the Isle of Sheppey. Arriva has now sadly got rid off them.

Date - 1990s
Max Speed - 45mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - Old Allison
Number in service - none (was 2)


Pointer Darts with steps

I normally don't like Pointer Darts as they are SO BORING, but these buses are different. I like these buses as they have more character than a bog standard Dart.

Unlike normal Darts these have a skylight and have a far better interior, with more old style fixtures. Also the suspension is so much better (they don't sway in that wobbly sick making way that Darts do).

These buses were never Arriva/M&Ds main bus, as they were superseded almost as soon as they were new by the Low floor Pointer Darts. (so these have not been used much and were in great condition).

In July 2010 I saw one of these at Bluewater (P324HVX, which was the last one still in service), and I remembered that this was where I saw the Optare for the last time, so I dropped what I was doing and made a mad dash to get on it, (It was a totally inappropriate time, but I did not want this bus to be got rid off without me filming it). I ran as fast as I could and just got on while the driver was shutting the doors, and yay I managed to film the bus. I was so glad that I did, as this was the last time I ever managed to get on one of these buses. Arriva have now got rid off them all. The one in the photos was the last to go, and has now been sent to Arriva in Southend, and was later sadly got rid off.

Date - 1994, 1996
Max Speed - 40mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - Old Allison
Number in service - none

Nu-Venture has now acquired one of these (P327HVX), they brought it from "GO" who had brought it when Arriva got rid of it in 2009. This bus sometimes runs on the 170/171/172/173 route which means that an original Medway Pointer Dart has now returned home to Medway.


Old East Lancs Darts/Lances with steps

I liked these as they didn't work properly and had a lot of character. Sadly the last one was got rid off in 2011. Before this, there were a couple of these floating around on Arriva (as if each depot they were in, were trying to pass them on to another depot as quick as possible), one came to Medway for a month in 2011 (in a very knackered condition).

Date - 1995
Max Speed - 40mph
Max Acceleration - 2 mph/second
Gearbox - Old Allison
Number in service - none


Boring Pointer Darts

There are absolutely loads of these around Medway, and everywhere Arriva operates.

These were Medway's first low floor buses, and were originally branded as "easy access buses". When they were new they had that nice old Allison gearbox sound, but that has now gone (one in medway still has it, I am currently trying to catch it).

These buses are just dull.

Its just a Dart - What else is there to say about it.

UPDATE: Arriva has now got rid of these.

Date - 1997
Max Speed - 40mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - Old Allison
Number in service - ?


Even more dull Pointer Darts

Here are some more crappy darts (these ones don't come to Medway). Lets get this part of the guide over with as quickly as possible.

Dull Pointer Darts (with updated front)

These operate in Maidstone, plus a few in Dartford. They are just as boring really, what else is there to say.

Small Dull Pointer Darts (Not to be confused with the modern small Pointer Darts, notice the crap seats)

There are only a couple of these about. The Gravesend/Dartford ones (left) are New Allison, and the Tunbridge ones (right) are old Allison. Date built: 1999/2000.


All of the buses so far were originally Maidstone and District (or Kentish Bus in Gravesend)

In around 1998 Arriva took over Maidstone and District, and spent a lot of money dramatically improving the service.

ALX400 B7TL - EPIC VOITH (2004)


These are by far the best buses on Arriva. Most bus enthusiasts think of ALX400s as rather dull (and most of them are), but these are like no other ALX400 (They may look like ALX400s on the outside, but the similarities stop at that, everything else about them is not the slightest bit ALX400 like, and is awesome). These have an amazing sound, and have an EPIC VOITH gearbox, which changes between gears without any loss of acceleration. Unlike a car's gearbox, where it changes between set gear cogs, with the Voith gearbox the gears are arranged inside each other. With a car you have to disengage each gear before you engage the next, but with a Voith gearbox you could think of it as having a clutch between each gear, which enables it to slip smoothly between gears.

There is nothing special on the outside (they just look like a normal ALX400), but on the inside they could not be more different from a bog standard ALX400. The interior is very nice, it is decorated in a warm green, which creates a very nice feel, and is not like most bus interiors.

If driven fast they have the most amazing sound. The awesomeness of the Voith gearbox combined with the engine, Voith retarder, and B7TL chassis create a great overall effect. This same sound can also be heard on some other B7TL buses that have the same Voith gearbox, including some Wrightbus eclipse geminis, Presidents, and Myllennium Vykings.

In 2004 Arriva spent 10,000,000 on 61 new buses in Medway (which they called Operation Overdrive), Which were 49 of these B7TLs (Plus 12 Modern small pointer darts which I'll come to later). This meant Medway had a massive fleet of these awesome buses, but since then some of these have moved to Maidstone, Tunbridge, Sheerness and some of them have left the area all together and have gone to Woking, grrr.

Date - Gil: summer 2004
Max Speed - 60mph
Max Acceleration - 3.5 mph/second
Gearbox - EPIC VOITH
Number in service - 49, were all at Gil, but some have gone.


Maidstone's crap ALX400s

Not to be confused with the awesome B7TL ones

Maidstone also has some crappy ALX400s (luckily these don't come to medway), despite being the same on the outside, these are nothing like the awesome B7TL ALX400s. These buses are totally crap.

Date - Maid: 2000
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 2.75 mph/second
Gearbox - crappy version of voith
Number in service - Maid: 4?

Modern Small Pointer Darts (2004)

Even though these look like yet another Pointer Dart - ITS NOT. Not much to see on the outside, but inside it has the same nice styling as the Medway's ALX400s.

These are very nippy small buses, with a very short distance between front and back wheels. With a good fast driver it can wiz around bends very fast (but it is usually driven slowly as they are normally used on the back routes that the slow drivers get dumped on).

Also these have the newer Allison gearbox (like the Enviro 200s). (these New Allison gearboxes can change gear without losing acceleration just like Voith)

Lots of these run in Medway, Gravesend, and Sittingbourne (Sheerness). (In 2012 two of the Sheerness ones were moved to Medway, the only way to tell these from the Medway ones is that they have circler brake lights. Now that really is an obscure detail!)

Update: In 2013 a whole load of identical looking worn out ex-London Mini Pointer Darts came to Medway, these can easilly be mistaken for the original posh Medway ones.

Date - Gil: 2004, Sheer: 2006, Gra: 2003
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 3.25 mph/second
Gearbox - New Allison
Number in service - Gil 14 (was 12), Sheer: 1 (was 2), Gra: ???.


Maidstone's Wrightbuses (2004)

These are very nice modern buses. There are two versions of these, two of them are new style Allison, and most of them are Awesome VOITH.

Date - Maid Allison: 2004, Maid Voith: 2004
Max Speed - 55mph
Max Acceleration - 3 mph/second
Gearbox - New Allison and Voith
Number - Maid Allison: 2?, Maid Voith: ???

Allison version

VOITH version


Update: In early 2014 some more identical looking Wrightbus started running in Maidstone, but these ones are worn out ex-London buses. Since the DB takeover there have been a lot of second hand buses, but I will come to this later on in the guide (as this guide is in date order).

Fastrack Wrightbuses (2004)

Fastrack is a modern Bus Rapid Transit System. It goes between Gravesend - Ebsfleet - Bluewater - Dartford. All of the traffic lights change immediately when a bus comes (all the buses have been RFID tagged). There are loads of bus lanes. and best of all there are two dedicated busways! One of them goes between Bluewater and Dartford via the hospital (on route B). And the other dedicated busway (route A) goes though a development site between Greenhive and Dartford. But the development site was a fail, as house building companies didn't want to build there. (also it is on a flood plain). This means there is a modern busway, where each bus stop is very posh, and is made to look like a miniature train station, IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! (today the middle of the site has been built on, but most of it is still empty)

The buses are very posh inside, and are by far the most posh buses in the area. (they even have automatic announcements, but the drivers usually have this turned off as they find it annoying!). A few of these buses have now been painted into Arriva colors and somtimes came to Medway on the 700/701 route. In 2014 these buses were replaced from the fastrack route with Streetlites.

But the best thing about these is their ZF gearbox. They have the loudest and most silly sounding ZF I have ever come across.

Date - Gra: 2004, 2006 & 2007
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 3.25 mph/second
Gearbox - AWESOME ZF
Number in service - Gra: 26?


In 2017 some of these buses got modernized. This is very random. The interiours were refurbished, and the front of the bus was replaced with wrightbus series 2. Whyy would they change the front of the bus. This is so weird. These modernized buses run in Maidstone.

Maidstone's Myllennium VDLs (2007)

These are very nice and have an have an awesome sounding Voith (DAF edition) gearbox. These were built by East Lancs in 2007, the same year as the company was bought out.

These buses originally ran the 71 route (Maidstone - Snodland), but since the B5ls have taken over this route, the Myllenniums now run on other routes which include the 155. This means these awesome buses now regularly come to medway - YAY!

Date - Maid: 2007
Max Speed - 60mph
Max Acceleration - 3.5 mph/second
Gearbox - VOITH
Number - Maid: 4


Gravesend's Voith Wrightbuses (2008)

New to Gravesend in 2008, These have Voith gearboxes, and are a bit epic when driven at full acceleration (which is rare). These have Arriva's green interior, which is quite a contrast to the Fastrack Wrightbuses. At one time these came to Medway on the 700/701 route.

These ? buses cost 1,500,000 (? each).

Update: The 480/490 route that these used to run on has been turned into a "Sapphire" route and now runs new Wrightbus Streetlites. I don't know where these buses have gone now, some have gone to Southend.

Date - Gra: 2008
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - 3 mph/second
Gearbox - VOITH
Number in service - Gra: ???


Optare Buses (2008)

Here are some nice optare buses

Optare Solo SRs

These are nice buses, These operate in 2 different parts of kent. There are some in Tunbridge Wells, on route 277, and some in Dartford, on route 414.

Secondhand Optare Solo

In 2008 Sittingbourne/Sheerness got one Optare solo second hand from MK Metro of Milton Keynes which Arriva took over in 2006. This bus is a bit battered, even though it is not all that old. (in 2012 Medway also got some secondhand optare solos, but I'll come to these later)


Enviro 400s (2008)

These were brought for the 101 route between Gillingham and Maidstone, and are the fastest buses Arriva has. With a good driver, these have awesome acceleration. These are the first buses in Medway to reach 70mph.

The 101 has now been turned into a "Sapphire" route with new buses, some of the original Enviro 400s have been refurbished into Sapphires. I don't know what has happened to the others.

Date - Gil: 6-Dec-2008
Max Speed - 70mph
Max Acceleration - 4.5 mph/second
Gearbox - ZF
Number - Gil: 8



As if there wasn't enough Darts already in Medway, in 2009 Arriva decided to get some more Darts second hand from Arriva in Guildford.

These were East Lancs "Spryte" Darts, which are part of the East Lancs pre-Myllennium series of buses. This series of buses did not have a collective group name. The bus' name is dependent on the chassis (which is confusing). The double deck version is either called Vyking, Lowlander or Lolyne (even though they all look the same). These were later superseded by the Myllennium.

These didn't last very long as they were replaced with ex-London mini pointer darts in 2012.

Enviro 200s

These buses are rather boring. Arriva has loads of these around here. They are at Medway, Gravesend, Maidstone, and Tunbridge Wells. Medway has 16 of these, costing 1,850,000(115,625 each). Gravesend has 8, costing 900,000 (112,500 each).

These buses are very smooth and dull. One good point about these is that they have a very clear sounding classic new-Allison sound. When these buses were new, they kept changing gear at the wrong time and went very slowly, But new Allison gearboxes have AI, so as the bus is driven the gearbox learns when it is the best time to change gear. Nowadays these buses change gear perfectly without any loss of acceleration (I hate to say it, but as much as I like voith, these Allisons change ever smoother than voith! but they still don't have quite that awesomeness that Voith has). These Allison gearboxes changes gear early to save fuel if the driver isn't using much acceleration, or if the driver stops accelerating. These have 5 gears (not counting gear 2.5), but it is rare for it to get to 5th gear, and even rarer to hear 5th on a proper gear-change (not a fuel saving gear-change). These buses are dull around town, but preform well on the faster out of town routes, I would prefer to see them on these routes more often.

Date - Gil: summer 2009, Maid: 2008, Maid Voith version: 2009, Gra: 2009, Tun: 2007
Max Speed - 60mph
Max Acceleration - 3 mph/second
Gearbox - Allison (and a Voith version in Maidstone)
Number in service - Gil: 16, Maid: ???, Maid voith version: ???, Gra: 8, Tun: 6

Firstly, heres Medway's Enviro 200s (2009)


And heres the very similar Enviro 200s in Gravesend (left) and Maidstone (right)

Maidstone also has some Voith Enviro 200s

These are a bit more interesting. Other than the sound, you can tell them apart from the Allison ones because they have white handrails (and they look far better inside, than the normal Enviro 200s).

Tunbridge Wells's Small Enviro 200s

Just like a normal Enviro 200, but smaller! (cost 500,000 for 6 of them, 83,000 each)

Wrightbus 2 Demonstrator (2010/2011)

This is a demonstrator bus. It has a ZF 8-gear gearbox.

It ran in Medway for a few months in winter 2010/2011, then moved to Gravesend, and has now moved on to another part of the country.


Wrightbus Streetlites (2012)

These are 5 brand new buses for Medway bus route 116, they entered service in January 2012 (costing 600,000. which is 120,000 each). These are the 10.2 meter door forward edition Wrightbus Streetlites, and were the first batch of Streetlites to run on a major UK bus company. Arriva re-branded the 116 route as X-bus 116, and the route has been updated to serve Mid Kent College and the Universities at Medway.

These buses have a Voith gearbox but it only has 3 gears, gear 2 is at 16 mph and gear 3 is at 33 mph. Also it doesn't change gear without losing acceleration like a proper Voith, as on the B7TLs. Also these buses are not all that powerfull.

Date - Gil: Jan-2012 & Feb-2013, Dar: 24-Aug-2012, Tun: Jan-2013
Max Speed - 45mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - VOITH (crappy 3 speed, exept the whight one which is 4 speed)
Number - Gil: 5, Dar: 5, Tun: 1

Arriva in Dartford are now running 5 new Wrightbus Streetlite 10.8 meter door forward editions, on the 477 route (Bluewater - Orpington). These cost 660,000 and entered service on 24-Aug-2012 (132,000 each).

In January 2013 Arriva brought one more new Wrightbus Streetlite in Tunbridge Wells. This runs along with the Optare Versas on the 402 route (Tunbridge Wells - Bromley).

(no photo)

In Febuary 2013 Arriva Medway temporarily aquired anouther Wrightbus Streetlite (MX62ARU). This one was built in late 2012 and is used as a demonstrator. Unlike the rest of Arriva's Streetlites, this one has a proper 4 speed voith which is far better.


Ex-London Crap Buses (2012)

It is well known that you simply do not buy Ex-London buses. The buses in London take an awful lot of wear and nowdays they are usally replaced after 10 years in a very knackered condition. What has gone wrong with you Arriva, why the hell are you getting Ex-London Buses for?

Ex-London DAF ALX400s

These buses are fairly worn out and crap. Arriva has now got a few of these running in Maidstone and Medway. The second door has been filled in (It would have added some more variety if they had kept it). see what they used to look like

Despite these buses being rather worn out, they still make a good voith sound (the same sound as the Maidstone Mylleniums). Also the layout is very odd, half of these buses have the staircase is located towards the back of the bus, so that it is next to the rear door (which no longer exists), this makes the layout of the bus very weird. Also when they were converting these from London buses they replaced some of the seats on some of the buses with whatever seats they could find going spear. With some of buses the downstairs seats are different to the upstairs ones.

These buses look identical to the other ALX400s. This means in Maidstone there are now 3 types of ALX400, theres the original crap trident ones, these Ex-London VDL ones, and the Awesome B7TL ones which they stole from Medway.

UPDATE: After 2 years these buses are already starting to be got rid of!

Ex-London mini Pointer Darts

Arriva Medway have now got some Ex-London Mini Pointer Darts, these have replaced the East Lancs Darts, which Arriva only got 3 years ago!

These look and sound identical to the Modern Small Pointer Darts. But although they look the same on the outside, they are nowhere near as good. They are rather worn out and the inteiror is totally different and is rather bog standard, they don't have Medway's/Liverpool's custom ultra modern green inteiror (as with medway's original mini Pointer Darts).


Mercedes-Benz Citaro (2012)

These are nice new buses for the 82 route in Maidstone.

These 6 buses are very nice, and costed 864,000 (144,000 each).

Before these started service in Maidstone, they were used on the shuttles for the Olympics.

Date - Maid: 2012
Max Speed - ???
Max Acceleration - 3 mph/second
Gearbox - ZF
Number - Maid: 6


Secondhand Optare Solos (2012)

In 2012 Medway got two Optare Solos second hand from Arriva at Watford. They look good on the outside, but they are painfully slow (and are the slowest Arriva buses in Medway!). All the drivers hate driving these buses. Also these don't sound of anything much.

Date - Gil: 2012 (new in 2007), Sheer: 2008 (new in 2005)
Max Speed - 45mph
Max Acceleration - 2.5 mph/second
Gearbox - Dull Allison
Number - Gil: 2, Sheer: 2?

Arriva have now repainted these to advertise their updated 113/114 route, now called the "Capstone flyer", and whats even more stupid is this laughable quote from their website, "The Capstone Flyer gives people from the Wigmore and Parkwood area a quicker ride into Chatham", what a load of crap! these buses are far slower than the B7TLs they were running, (also drivers are finding it hard to keep to time!). Also the new route is no longer a nice loop like before. The route used to go, Chatham - along the capstone backroad - Hempstead - Wigmore - along the A2 - Chatham. This was a nice loop, but the new updated route now goes, Chatham, along the capstone backroad - Hempstead - then goes one of two weird routes around wigmore which alternates between buses.

And ironically the offical mascot of these buses is a flying Wrightbus!


Arriva goes Optare crazy (2011 and 2013)

Date - Tun: late 2011, Maid: early 2012, Gil: 2013, Sheer: 3 Versas 1 Solo SR
Max Speed - 50mph
Max Acceleration - Versa: 3 mph/second, Solo SR: 3.5 mph/second
Gearbox - ???
Number - Tun: 5, Maid: 1, Gil: 15, Sheer: 3 Versa and 1 Solo SR

The first batch of versas arrived in 2011. These buses look amazing, but they would be better if they were a bit more powerfull. Arriva brought 5 of them for Tunbridge Wells for route 402 (costing 750,000 which is 150,000 each), plus 1 at Maidstone for route 6/7 (unknown price).

In February 2013 Arriva Medway brought 15 new Optare Versas in Medway. YAY - NEW BUSES!!!!!!

These 15 buses cost 1,800,000 (120,000 each).

In April 2013 Arriva Sheerness brought 3 new Optare Versas costing 360,000 (120,000 each).

These run on the 333/334 route from Maidstone to Sheerness and Faversham.

Also Arriva Sheerness brought one new Optare Solo SR for the 349 route (Sittingbourn - Great Easthall). This bus seems to have the same engine as the Versas, and as it is a smaller bus, which means it has more acceleration.


CRAP Volvo Wrightbus Hybrids (2013)

Although these are labelled as hybrids, they are more like normal buses with a small amount of electric motor assistance. (With a proper hybrid bus, the engine only generates the electricity, it doesn't drive the bus).

It annoys me that Arriva go on about how green these buses are, when Enviro 400Hs are far far more greener than these wrightbuses, as they are true diesel-electric hybrids.

I was looking forward to having Hybrids in my local area, I was so disappointed that it had to be these. Arriva has brought 11 of these pieces of crap.

These buses have the most horrid gear changes. (With all the innovations by Voith, Allison and ZF it disgusts me that a modern bus has such awfull gear changes). The gearbox loses acceleration while changing gear, and it makes clunking noises which , thinking about it, sounds just like the sounds you hear when trucks change gear when they pass by. Does this mean that these buses have a trucks gearbox.

Date: March 2013
Max Speed - 45mph
Max Acceleration - 4 mph/second
Gearbox - CRAP VOLVO i-shift
Number - Maid: 11

The Open top bus scam

In summer 2013 Arriva ran a special open top bus service. All around Medway, on various different of types advertising, there were loads of adverts for this service. AND GUESS WHAT, EVERY ONE OF THESE ADVERTS WAS A LIE.

Everyone of these adverts had a badly photoshopped picture of a vintage open top Leyland Titan. This bus does not even exist. This advert is a total lie. Arriva were not running a heritage Leyland Titan or any other type of Heritage bus, the bus they were actually running was.............. A STUPID EX-LONDON ALX 400 WITH PART OF THE ROOF CHOPPED OFF.

I am disgusted how they can get away with such misleading advertising. These adverts were everywhere, they were all over Chatham bus station, on leaflets, on Medway council's visit Medway website, and many other places. Ands whats more, they didn't even allow people with normal tickets to travel on this bus.

Here is the picture used in the adverts. Just look at how badly it has been photoshopped.

This copyrighted picture is being displayed for the purpose of comment and criticism under the grounds of FAIR USE

Here is the actual bus which was being used for the service. It is the same type of Ex-London ALX 400 as earlier on in this guide (with the weird staircase at the back). But with this one they have kept the middle doors.

Even more second hand buses (2013 and 2014)

What the hell????, I really do not know what has gone wrong with Arriva. What is with all the secondhand buses. What are they thinking.

I have always thought of Arriva as having loads of great buses, but I am now starting to change my mind. Arriva have got rid a lot of Maidstone and District's quirky old buses, and now they are buying in loads of second hand crap. (I wonder if this change is use to Arriva being taken over by DB?).

By 2017 almost all of these buses are already gone.

East Lancs Pre-Myllennium Tridents

Arriva's most random purchase ever!

Just months after getting rid of the single deck East Lancs Pre-Myllennium Darts, Arriva Medway has just brought 2 second hand Double Deck Pre-Myllennium Tridents. This is totally random!

OK, as much as I don't like Arriva getting second hand buses, I do actually like these as they make a nice change. They have very large side facing windows giving a nice wide view. Also they are not worn out Ex-London buses.

Ex-London Wrightbus B7TLs

In August 2013 Arriva Tunbridge brought some Ex-London Wrightbus series 1 buses. These buses run on the 6/7 route to Maidstone. For a while I have been thinking it would be nice for Arriva to get some Wrightbuses series 1 double decks, but I am not happy that they have yet again gone and brought Ex-London buses. Also these buses have a uninspiring version of ZF. When these buses first start moving for a moment they sound like it is going to be a nice voith, but no, it is a stupid ZF.


In 2014 Arriva Medway had just got rid of most of their older 1996 Pointer Darts, so what do they do next.... THEY GO AND BUY A WHOLE LOAD OF EX-LONDON POINTER DARTS.

This is just plain stupid. Arriva have lost the plot. I have no idea what they were thinking when they made this decision. This makes Arriva no longer seem like a professional major bus company.

This now makes Medway look like a bog standard place (in terms of buses) which has a collection of various Darts. I always thought of Medway as being better than this. I am very disappointed.

So if we list all of Arrivas different Pointer Darts in Kent... There's the step ones (by far the best Darts, but long since replaced), there's the 1996 easy access ones (boring), there's the Maidstone ones (boring), there's a couple of odd shorter ones in Gravesend, there's the 2004 modern style mini Darts (OK I like these ones), there's the Ex-London mini ones (total crap), and finally there's now these full length Ex-London ones (also total crap). Remember this list is of only the Pointer Darts, there's still all of the other types of Dart. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that their are far too many very boring and very crap Darts.

Ex-London old style Wrightbuses

In early 2014 Arriva Maidstone got some Ex-London Wrightbuses (these buses are a bit worn out, they have new series Allison, and yet again Arriva has removed the middle door).

Well I suppose they fit in with the other old style Wrightbuses in Miadstone, but to be honest theres way too many second hand buses.

The Sapphire Enviro 400s (2014)

Arriva have got some new buses for the 101 route, and guess what busses they have got... Enviro 400s (the same buses that they are replacing).

Throughout the UK Arriva are turning their express routes into a premium service with posh new buses. These buses have screens and a text-to-speech voice to tell you of what the next stop is (although many passengers disagree with the names used). Also the buses have leather seats.

Although it is very nice to get new buses, if Arriva had waited another few months they could have got the all new Enviro 450 (or even better the Enviro 450H BAE Hybrid). Was this because Arriva could not wait to get in some new buses - of course not. The reason why they rushed in these new buses is that they didn't want to get Euro 6 buses, with the new regulations about to come in making all new buses having to comply. There is much debate about Euro 6 double decks. Due to the very strict emissions rules Euro 6 busses have very small engines (usually just 5 litres). There is mixed opinions about the performance of these, the acceleration often is not as good, and they slow down too much when the bus is full of passengers, Although this is not a problem for hybrids (but they cost a lot more).

You could say that Arriva has done the right thing by getting Euro 5 buses (since Bluebell hill is so steep), but it is still feels odd that they have gone and got the same type of bus that was on the route previously. But after Arriva has painted their new Euro 6 Wrightbus Streetlites (above) to tell people how wonderfully green they are (despite them not actually being hybrid), it seems rather stupid that with the new buses for the 101 they have deliberately not taken the green option.

Converted original Enviro 400s

Some of the original Enviro 400s have been refurbished into Sapphires. These have ever so slightly better acceleration than the new ones.

Euro 6 Wrightbus Streetlites (2014)

These are nice buses. These have replaced most of the crappy Darts - YAY!

These have a proper Voith, unlike the others which had a very crap 3 speed Voith (not at all Voith like). Also these buses have leather seats which makes a nice change.

To reduce emissions the alternator only generates electricity when the bus is braking (although this is of course not a full hybrid system).

Gravesend Sapphire Wrightbus Streetlites

The 480/490 route in Gravesend has now become a Sapphire route with new buses.

Wrightbus series 3 StreetDeck (2016)

Arriva Medway brought one Wrightbus streetdeck to trail it. It is very slow.

DB go second hand bus crazy (2016 - 2017)

Since DB took over things have gone badly downhill. Gone are the days of having a fleet of buses that were brought for an area and they are kept until they are knackered.

Nowadays Arriva just get any old bus they can find. Also Arriva have been moving a lot of buses around. A lot of classic Medway and Maidstone buses have been sold off recently.

Scania Omnideckers

Arriva have always hated Scanias, but nowadays any old bus will do

Wrightbus series 2

Arriva have now brought some Voith Wrightbus series 2s from Liverpool, at the same time Maidstones Volvo hybrid Wrightbus series 2s got moved to Liverpool. So basicly they replaced some hybrid buses with the non-hybrid model of the same bus. This shows that Arriva only got hybrids for Maidstone for publicity. When they thought that they would get more publicity having hybrids in Liverpool, they didn't think twice about removing them from Maidstone. Arriva have tried to cover their tracks by removing all the publicity for these buses.

All new Enviro 200 (2017)

Arriva have brought a massive batch of the all new Enviro 200. These have a 6th generation voith and sound simular to the Wrightbus Streetlites. But the all new Enviro is much better than the streetlites in every way. They are more powerfull and faster and look better and have a better interiour.

All new Enviro 400 (2017)


And that is the end of this guide.

I hope you have enjoyed reading it!

Further reading...

Non Arriva buses in Medway
See more of my bus pictures
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