Sunday, 5 January 2014
Snap on Sunday
Snap on Sunday this week comes to you from glorious Penzance with a couple of increasingly rare types in this day in age. First up are two of First Kernow's surviving Varios (are these the only two now?), S526 RWP and S554 RWP. The Mercedes minibus continues to decline ever further in a majority of the UK, but Cornwall is most definitely the exception, with numbers in use still very high. It's hard to argue that anything is more suitable for the narrow twisting lanes of the county, and with the price of the smallest of Optare Solos still being relatively high it's understandable that many operators are keeping their Mercs going for as long as possible. Come the end of the year though, buses under 7.5tonnes will be required to meet DDA unless they have a suitable wheelchair lift, or are COIFed at 22 seats or under. It is quite possible therefore that some operators may choose to decrease the capacity of their Mercedes on their lightly used routes, so that these can continue to operate. It almost seems the wrong way round when you consider the smallest of buses are having to be withdrawn first under DDA, with the deckers going last (excluding coaches). Although of course the double deckers have a higher initial value, the deckers are far more likely to pay their way, with them most often being used on routes which have high ridership. I know this is somewhat of a generalisation, but the principle stands. The mini/midi buses however are there for the routes of generally low patronage, and therefore profit margins are lower; again, this stands to reason. So the number of years it takes for them to pay for themselves in general is likely to be higher than that of a decker. It therefore seems pretty unfair on these small operators in such places as Cornwall who struggle to turn a profit as it is, to then have to be the first to get rid of what could be seen as perfectly useable and reliable vehicles, before that of the larger companies running deckers, reaping in the cash. Food for thought maybe!
Anyway, talking of deckers, amazingly, the K-LAE duo are STILL at work in Cornwall. A stop gap they appear to no longer be, and K615 and K629 LAE continue to ply their trade throughout the county. Unfortunately I really wasn't expecting to see K615 thrash out of Penzance Bus Station, and hence the shot is fairly poor - but better than nothing I thought!