The MCW Metrobus is a double decker bus model manufactured by MCW (Metro Cammell Weymann) from 1977 until 1989, with over 4,000 examples built. The original MkI model was superseded by the MkII model (which had a symmetrical windscreen) in 1981/1982, although production of the original MkI continued for London Transport until 1985. The Metrobus was conceived as an integral product manufactured completely by MCW, but Alexander and Northern Counties also bodied some examples.
The Metrobus was hoped to produce a single deck version but this was not to come into production. MCW mentioned the vehicle in the brochure but for some reason chose to focus only on the double deck version.
The demonstrator TOJ 592S was lent to London Transport in December 1977. LT were so impressed with the vehicle they placed an order soon after. This prototype Metrobus is owned and still operated by Midland Classic of Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
London Transport took 1,440 MkI examples between 1978 and 1985, numbering them as M1 to M1440. Two MkII prototypes were delivered to London Transport as M1441 and M1442 in 1984, but there were no further orders. In 1987 and 1988, 14 secondhand Metrobuses were purchased from Greater Manchester PTE, West Yorkshire PTE and Busways. London Transport's low-cost subsidiary Harrow Buses leased 29 new MkII Metrobuses in 1987, but had to return them to their lessor three years later. London Transport's Metrobuses were the mainstay of the double decker fleet between 1987 and privatisation in 1994, when most of them passed to seven of the new operators. They remained in service for London Buses until 2004, when the last examples were withdrawn.
- Main article: West Midlands Metrobus
The West Midlands PTE and its successor, West Midlands Travel (now National Express West Midlands), also took significant numbers of Metrobuses (over 1100), both MkI and MkII examples. These included 5 prototype vehicles (allocated to Washwood Heath depot near the MCW factory so they could see the vehicles performance in service) and 50 dual-purpose Metrobuses with high-back seats, purchased in 1986. Many of these buses were converted to normal seated buses and continued in service until November 2008. They were mainly used on limited-stop services. 14 guided buses were delivered for service 65 (branded Tracline 65), which was the first guided bus system in UK, although the experiment only lasted a couple of years. All of the 14 guided buses were converted for conventional use and all have since been withdrawn.
The last public service ran the 1 service from Birmingham Town Hall to Acocks Green Village, arriving back at Acocks Green Garage at 15:25 on Saturday 24th July 2010 and was bus 2903 C903FON. A Metrobus Farewell event was held at Acocks Green on that day and all 3 of the last Metrobuses were operated, these were 2832, 2903 & 2988 (B832AOP, C903FON & E988VUK) All cash fares taken on the day were donated to Cancer Research UK.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) purchased over 100 examples between 1981 and 1985. The SYPTE standard fully sprung seats were fitted along with 20 MkIIs having coach seats for express work. The vehicles were noted for quick acceleration although had distinctive engine noise and were rust prone around the engine bay.
Secondhand Metrobuses have been purchased by operators both in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Often, these are used mainly on school contract bus services. Several ex-London Metrobuses were recently seen in service with Top Line Travel of York Ltd.
Two notable Metrobuses are WMPTE's 6831 (SDA 831S) and Strathclyde Buses MB70 (G408 OGD) which were the first and last Metrobuses built (MCW went into receivership in 1989). However, these vehicles have now both been scrapped (MB70 being scrapped by First Group). The final UK ones for Merseybus, Strathclyde Buses and West Midlands Travel are considered to have been badly constructed and not suitable for preservation. This may have been due to them being dismantled and rebuilt by Optare after they bought the design to the Metrobus in order to create the DAF DB250-based Optare Spectra, and indeed one of the Merseybus ones 0819 (F819YLV) had to be rebuilt by MTL's engineering team when only four years old in 1993. 6831, however, was a prototype and had a different electrical system and layout, and was considered non-standard.
The earliest preserved Metrobus is WMPTE's 6832 (SDA 832S) which was the second prototype delivered, and the first to have a more standard set-up. Another noted Metrobus is West Midlands Travel 3107 (G107 FJW), which actually never entered service with West Midlands Travel, because of its late delivery, it was sold to Optare and also DAF without entering service, to assist in the development of what became the Optare Spectra.
End of productionEdit
Production of Metrobus was terminated in 1989 with the financial collapse of MCW. The Metrobus design was purchased by Optare in 1990, which had recently joined the United Bus group with DAF Bus. Despite owning design and production rights, the two companies heavily reworked the design to produce a new vehicle, the DAF DB250-based Optare Spectra, which was launched in 1991 and ceased production in late 2005.
Several ex-Hong Kong MCW Metrobuses were sold to Big Bus Company and The Original Tour in 2000, effectively withdrawn from service by November 2011 (and somehow, some of them have upgraded engines) to comply with Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Some went for further service in United States.