06/01/2012

Norfolk Explorer 05/01/12 - konectexpress & my flexible friends!

Yesterday I went on my first Norfolk Explorer tour of 2012, my plan was to sample the new konectexpress ADL Enviro400's and also their recently aquired Mercedes Benz Citaro bendybuses...

I started my day with a short walk from my home to Gayton Road where I caught Norfolk Green Optare Solo Slimline YJ09EZZ on the 0627 X8 to Fakenham, I purchased my bargin £8 Norfolk Green/konectbus explorer ticket and we set off along the A148 in the windy conditions to Fakenham where we arrived bang on time to form the 0700 X29 to Norwich, we departed Fakenham and headed to Norwich making various pick ups through the villages on route, we also picked up a suprising amount of people in Taverham, Drayton & Hellesdon on the outskirts of Norwich before arriving at Castle Meadow at just before 0810 - unfortunatly I didn't manage to get a photo of this bus as the stop at Castle Meadow where I disembarked was only short.

At Norwich Castle Meadow I spent half a hour observing local buses in the freezing winds before catching my very first konectexpress SN61CZW on the 0840 fast to Dereham, the new konectexpress vehicles are very impressive being fitted with comfy black and grey leather seats, the "new bus" smell and the aroma of the leather seats made for a very pleasent travelling enviroment, again the journey went smoothly and arrival in Dereham (where the photos below were taken) was on time at 0925.

© Andy's Bus Blog

© Andy's Bus Blog

After a spot of breakfast in Dereham I went back to the bus stop to get the 1000 service 4 to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, this route was upgraded to Optare Tempo operation on Tueaday following the withdrawal of most of konectbus' Optare Excel MK1's. My bus for this journey was YJ56WVB which is pictured below upon arrival at the hospital.

© Andy's Bus Blog

Next it was time to sample some of the konectbus bendybuses, first was BD57WDA (in konectbus livery) on the short service 10 which links the hospital to Costessy Park & Ride, I had expected to pay a separate fare for my Park & Ride journeys as explorer tickets are not normally valid, however as our friends at konectbus had heard I would be travelling they arranged for my explorer ticket to be accepted with no extra charge which was a lovely and thorghtful suprise!

So after the ten minute journey I arrived at Costessy Park & Ride where BD57WDA parked up to allow its driver to have a break whilst ADL Enviro400 SN10CEX took over on the 10.

© Andy's Bus Blog

It didn't take long for my next bus to arrive, my second Mercedez Benz Citaro bendybus of the day BD57WDZ (still wearing London red) on the 604 to Norwich City Centre, we set off at 1140 for the 25 minute journey into the city via University Of East Anglia, as a bendybus fan the journey was highly enjoyable - in fact the best I've ever been on, the fast running along the A47 and the many corners and roundabouts made for a very fun ride. I enjoyed it so much that I returned straight to Costessy Park & Ride on the same bus.

© Andy's Bus Blog

Back at Costessy Park & Ride I decided to wait for another 604 back into the city, however I let the next bus go so I could get the one after - BL57OXM which is in konectbus livery and also carries the new version of their logo and also a "flexible friend" slogan on the back.

© Andy's Bus Blog

© Andy's Bus Blog

After a few photographs it was then on to BL57OXM for the 1320 into the city where this time I alighted at the bus station after four fantastic bendybus trips. After a short wait at the bus station where I took the chance to pick up a few timetables I required I boarded my second konectexpress of the day SN61CZY on the 1410 through the city to its terminus point at Riverside Retail Park.

© Andy's Bus Blog

At Riverside I popped into Morrisons to get out of the strong winds and heavy rain before getting my final konectexpress of the day - SN61CZV (interior photo below) on the 1500 departure to Dereham, it was a busy and enjoyable journey, yet again we arrived bang on time in Dereham at 1555.

© Andy's Bus Blog

My final konectbus of the day was the soon to be withdrawn Optare Excel V203ENU on the 1615 service 11 to Watton this journey was very busy with a large number of school and collage students on board although to their credit they were well behaved and didn't cause any problems. On arrival in Watton most of the students disembarked and the bus changed onto service 1 for the final leg of my journey to King's Lynn where we arrived slightly late (the only late bus of the day I must add) at 1745.

Then a great way to end to a great day came in the form of Norfolk Green Optare Spectra YG02FWD on the 1805 home.

I really enjoyed and had a fantastic 12 hours with two of the UK's best bus operators - every bus I went on was punctual, clean and well driven, the drivers I encountered throughout the day were smart, polite, friendly and a credit to their companies - the day once again enforced my view even further that we are so lucky to have two bus operators of such high quality in Norfolk!