Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

For the Transport Enthusiast, Unusual means an odd working – something out of the norm.  For example: –

The 460 bus route from Willesden to North Finchley is normally the preserve of Metroline’s Volvo double-deckers so it was somewhat of a surprise when MCV bodied MAN MM819 turned up on the route at Golders Green.   Presumably, the rostered vehicle had broken down and the garage was short of spare vehicles of the correct type…


If it’s not an odd vehicle on a route, then it’s a route in the wrong place.   Buses working on a road that normally does not have a bus service.   For example, Woodside Avenue in Haringey.   Here we see a 134 bus on diversion following a burst water main in Muswell Hill which closed the road on its normal route.   Diversions, whilst interesting for the enthusiast, are a nuisance for the operator and passengers alike.  The diversion has to be safe for the size of vehicle (no low bridges for example) and needs to get the passengers back to the normal route as soon as possible – though in this case I recall the 134’s then ran straight up the A1000 to North Finchley rather than regaining their normal route in order to keep lost time to a minimum.  Passengers wanting to get to Muswell Hill were able to change at East Finchley onto the 234 or 102 routes.


Another unusual working – Here is a Bendybus on the North Circular Road.   It’s definitely off route, the 29 doesn’t go anywhere near the North Circular!   So what was it doing there?   London Mayor, Boris Johnson, made an election pledge to get rid of Bendybuses in London (I can think of more pressing things that he could have promised) 😦  Arriva, having won a contract to provide bus services in Malta, decided that some of its relatively new Bendies could go there.  This vehicle (MA128) was one of those selected.   So the conclusion is that it was on its final journey from the capital before being shipped out of the country.  Off then to warmer weather and away from the rain and traffic jams on the A406 North Circular Road – which definitely are Not Unusual!


Finally, Rail Replacement Services – Not unusual in themselves these days with parts of the London Underground Network being closed at weekends to facilitate major uplift work.   They do bring out a variety of vehicles from the operators.   With normal services still to be maintained – it can be an interesting group of vehicles too.  Often older vehicles that perhaps only normally operate at peak hours and invariably the occasional ‘Dog’ that drivers will normally refuse to take out! – It’s amazing how much better a vehicle looks to a driver when there’s overtime at stake 😉   It also brings unusal operating challenges.   Here we see Arriva DLA13 at Woodside Park station.   Normally the station sees services on the 383 route, operated by 8.9m vehicles.   DLA13 is 10.6m long and to turn around requires a three point turn to get back out on the road – an unusual maneouvre for a bus once out of the garage.   Having got to this point, the bus refused to go into reverse gear.   It took a shutdown, restart and lots of engine revving to finally coax it into gear – I guess, with the number 13, the driver should have known it’d be a Dog 😉



    1. Hi Arindam – I think many people would ask the same question. It comes down to several things.; Some people think they’re too big for London’s streets and are a threat to cyclists / smaller vehicles. Don’t think there’s a huge amount of evidence to confirm the latter and my experience of Bendybuses driving round tiny villages in France refutes the former. There was a high level of fare evasion – you could board through any of the entrances and were expected to display honesty by touching your card on the reader. Some people deliberately didn’t pay whilst others forgot by accident (nearly did so myself once). So the cost of running them was higher than it should have been. But I don’t know that the figures work out – they have been replaced by conventional double deck vehicles running at roughly 3 times the frequency, so that’s more fuel / maintenance costs and more congestion! There you go… wasn’t it easier to just say ‘Politics’ 😉

  1. I love the fact that we can visit the world through these blogs. Your first photograph reminds me of the Row Houses in Richmond, Va. and the second one reminds me of the hilly streets of Charlottesville. Here you have the character of two cities in one. In the event that you’ve never been to Virginia, I thought you might find that interesting. I love those double decker buses. Whoever came up with idea had a head on his/her shoulders. Nice post. 🙂

    1. Hi Marcy, Double-deck vehicles have always been a part of transport in British cities. I know that the Metropolitan Police used to strictly control the length and width of vehicles so the only way to increase the number of passengers that could be carried was to build upwards. If it wasn’t for the requirement to pass a tilt test I don’t doubt that someone would have added a third deck!

      Interested in your comparisons with Richmond and Charlottesville. London has so many differing areas, each with their own style but I suspect that every major city in the US has similar variations. I have never crossed the pond – though I have been on US soil a few times over the years – USAF stations in the UK, the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square and the US Marines base (now gone, I believe) that used to exist just north of Regents Park.

      1. Thanks for the feedback. It is kind of cool to compare notes. It cool to be able to see the world in cyberspace. I appreciate the video link, too. 🙂

  2. Your buses really do pop with brilliant colour Martin! One of my sons had to give directions to a new driver on the Late Night Bus Service, from somewhere in London to beyond the South Circular, after a night at the pub. Goodness knows where this bus went after dropping the boy almost at our front door!

    1. I think the Red used by London Transport became brighter over the years to make the vehicles more visible – you’d be surprised how often a motorist drives into a stationary bus! Now, with several different operators running the services the shade of red varies a bit. Arriva’s red is a slightly more orangey shade than the one used by Metroline for example. When Metroline’s red fades it goes very pink! http://www.flickr.com/photos/martin_addison/6951923729/ for example…

      LoL about the Night Bus – must have been a new driver on the route. We went through a spate of lost drivers on the 143 bus route up in Finchley – I think new drivers were put on that route first and often didn’t know it very well. It’s settled down now – I guess the work force and the tendering of routes has become more stable since the early days of deregulation..

  3. I can’t believe you made this subject fascinating! Just like you make football fascinating!
    (And I just love looking at the bright red buses, it means England/London to me.)

    1. Hi Judith – I try my best to make every photo challenge entry of interest. Most people don’t understand what makes transport enthusiasts tick, so I took the opportunity to give a little insight into one aspect of the hobby. Glad you found it fascinating 🙂

  4. Never unusual to find a fascinating collection of photography here, Martin!
    You are always right on route!
    It’s probably silly to say, but (having not yet been fortunate enough to visit) I still always associate red double-decker buses with London… in much the same way I do Yellow Taxi Cabs with New York City, I guess…

    1. London’s buses have been red for a very long time Bob and so many people associate them with London just the way the Yellow Cab is synonymous with New York – Even to those of us who have only ever seen the big Apple on the cinema / TV screen. There are lots of other companies and cities that have traditionally used Red as their main color – the Classic has to be ‘Midland Red’… Take a look at the images on Google 😉

      Thanks for popping by Bob – always good to hear from you 🙂

    1. Wot’s all this ‘ere… Spam?… 😉 Sorry to hear you’ve had some issues Nancy – looks like they’re fixed 🙂

      Nothing wrong with 13 from my point of view anymore than Black cats crossing my path on Friday 13th. But some people are very supersticious about the old Bakers Dozen and it seemed a good idea to play on it in the text. After all, there’s no denying that the bus was playing the driver up 🙂 But then, I’m a believer that machines have souls…

  5. ah yes, i was once behind a huge bus that took about 5 minutes to maneuver itself out of the tight spot in a street that was certainly not made for its size. the experience does build the virtue of patience. too bad i didn’t have my camera with me and glad for you that you had yours with you! 😀

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