M Metrobus in Airbus Livery
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Notes About This Vehicle

From the days of the earliest motor vehicles by the London General Omnibus Company, and its successor London Transport (LT), the organization had at its heart the design of its own buses. This can easily be traced up to the appearance of the now world famous Routemaster.

In the 1960s LT had its hand forced by government to support the nation’s bus industry and to buy its vehicles from outside its insular combination of Chiswick Works (design and prototype build), AEC Works (chassis and mechanical units) and Park Royal Vehicles (bodies). Though other suppliers were also involved in a lesser way, the end was in sight.

The first generation of double- and single-deckers bought under the new regime were not regarded as a great success despite still going through LT’s Aldenham overhaul system, and by the mid 1970s large numbers of buses were sought to replace them. Aldenham Works too would close in 1986.

The required double deckers remained to LT specification and five Leyland Titan prototypes were built in 1975/77, with a further five ‘Metrobus’ vehicles arriving from Metro Cammell Weymann in 1978/79. The fleet eventually reached 1125 Leylands, designated ’T’, and 1440 Metrobuses, designated ‘M’. (Additional second-hand Metrobuses to non LT specification were acquired from 1984.)

From M6, the production buses had a number of modifications, the most obvious being the front blind display box, which combined the route number and via points, and with a much wider blank area. The external design continued to evolve, as did the livery.

Despite the extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow in 1977, LT wanted to improve its bus connection from central London and introduced dedicated routes A1 and A2, with a fleet of sixteen Metrobuses in a bespoke livery, replaced in 1984 by a second batch of twenty-four. Further vehicles were added later, as was a route A3.

The ‘Airbus’ logo accompanied by a white bar & circle also went through a few revisions, with the style of the lettering altering, the clarifying addition of the route ends, and the configuration of these three elements swapping.

With the formation in 1984 of London Regional Transport preparatory to bus privatization, the entire bus operation was transferred to the newly created subsidiary of ‘London Buses’. This caused a further change to the livery, with the London Buses logo replacing the all white one, the addition of a white relief band and the addition of a blue-grey skirt.

The drawing here is based on what Airbuses looked like in 1991, though it changed again shortly afterwards. The paucity of relevant images means that I am uncertain of the locations and wording of some detail feature labels (transfers) and some have not been established at all. In particular, the position of the rear ‘Airbus’ logo is guessed at, as it is known that these were also placed below the lower deck window. Furthermore, four-leaf exit doors were introduced when a disabled ramp was added, though I have not been able to establish the handrail positions.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing ‘M.001.R.’  dated 4th February 1985. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.

All the fine detail has been interpreted from close-up colour photographs of M1014 in preservation in July 2018, with the overall livery from one photograph taken by Mike Harris of M1022 in service on 21st August 1991. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.

It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.

drawing copyright Douglas Rose January 2021
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