The History of the "Easybus"
Leyland Atlantean 168 (TTT168X) would be one of the final batch of Leyland Atlanteans to be delivered to Plymouth City Transport, consisting of a batch of nine vehicles with fleet numbers 162 to 171 (TTT162-171X) being allocated. 168 was delivered to Milehouse on the 24th November 1981 and entered service a few days later on the 4th December. The bodywork was supplied by East Lancashire Coachbuilders and the body code given to 168 was H43/31F, which denoted that it was a highbridge body with 43 seats fitted to the upper saloon and 31 seats fitted to the lower saloon.
In preparation for the big route and timetable change, following the M.A.P. survey earlier that year, 168 had additional cream applied to the existing paintwork around October 1982 which was painted below the lower saloon windows and swept up in a diagonal fashion after the rear wheel arches. The new Plymouth Citybus name and logo was fitted over the new cream relief. The black lining that was situated below the lower saloon windows and around the front windscreen was painted over at this time. Also all the fleet numbers were now applied in black.
In February 1985 Leyland Atlantean 168 had a Super Rear advert painted on that also extended to both the nearside and offside advertising panels for Carpet World. This was changed only a few months later in June 1985 for Beacon Blinds and Electrical Sales.168 was repainted in December 1987 into the livery of cream roof, cream around both the upper and lower saloon windows and windscreen down to the top of the lower skirt panels with the cream again being swept upwards in a diagonal fashion after the rear wheel arches. The Plymouth City Transport name and crest was not applied to this repaint as by October 1986 the local undertaking had become an arms length company, although still wholly owned by the Council. Again the Plymouth Citybus name and logo was fitted to the cream relief, below the lower saloon windows. The Plymouth Citybus fleet name and logo used red and black lettering. Again the fleet numbers were black in colour.
Atlantean 168 had a further repaint in October 1988 into the post deregulation livery of red roof and red around the upper saloon windows with white extended around the lower saloon windows, windscreen and cantrail. The white also extended between saloons over the advertising panels. Black paint was applied below the lower saloon windows down to the skirt. A red and white Plymouth Citybus name plus additional lining in red and white was also used on both the offside and nearside panels with extra lining in black and red fitted above the cantrail.
Around October 1989 Leyland Atlantean 168 was converted for “EasyBus” use by having all the chrome hand rails inside the bus removed and orange rails with additional rails and bell push buttons fitted to make the bus more accessible and user friendly for disabled and elderly passengers. The “EasyBus” name was also fitted, around December 1989, above the front of the vehicle just above the destination box. Leyland Atlantean 167, (TTT167X), had already been converted to “EasyBus” use, in September 1989, so 168 would share “EasyBus” allocated workings too. Atlantean 167 would have the “EasyBus” name in black lettering initially from the middle of September 1989 until it had the green “EasyBus” name fitted in December 1989 as with 168. The “EasyBus” was used on a specific route on a specific day of the week. The allocations included Ernesettle, Whitleigh, Kings Tamerton, Eggbuckland, Southway and Plympton.
167, (TTT 167X), at Ernesettle “Bull and Bush” on Tuesday 26th September 1989. Note the original style of “EasyBus” name. Two double deckers were permanently allocated Monday to Saturday to the Service 43.
Press cutting from The Western Evening Herald dated Wednesday 26th July 1989.
168, (TTT 168X), at Milehouse Bus Depot on Sunday 15th July 1990 operating Duty N73L (14.22-23.47).
Photos: Gareth Ruby
A further repaint into the revised post deregulation livery including the new red skirt was applied to the bus in March 1991. This would be the first time 168 would receive the additional red skirt. All of the Atlantean fleet that had been repainted into the post deregulation livery had the additional red skirt painted on during 1988 but 168 had slipped by without having the extra red relief added and would be the only AN68 in the deregulation black livery that didn’t have it until this repaint.
Timetable for the “EasyBus” services, dated 27th May 1990, showing which day the buses would operate over the specific routes.
Leyland Atlantean 168 would be repainted into an allover advert for Plymco Superstores around February 1996. This livery consisted of all over dark green with a black skirt and various vinyls and the Plymco Superstore name fitted above the cantrail. The Plymouth Citybus name was fitted to the lower front panel just above the registration plate.
Unfortunately Plymco Superstores scrapped their free shopper bus services in August 1999 so subsequently 168 was repainted again into an allover advert for Weatherproof Flat Roofing. The repaint was finished by the 28th February 2000 and consisted of a red and white livery with additional vinyls applied to the repainted bus.
This livery would also be short lived too and 168 would be repainted one last time in 2002.
The bus was repainted into the newer deregulation livery, completed on the 15th March 2002, which consisted of red roof and red around the upper saloon windows with red also applied below the lower saloon windows down to the top of the skirt. The skirt was painted grey and white was applied around the lower saloon windows and windscreen and also above the cantrail and advertising panels.
A new style Plymouth Citybus name and logo in white and additional white lining was also fitted below the lower saloon windows. A single red line was also fitted above the cantrail around the vehicle. The new white vinyl fleet numbers were also fitted to the front, offside and nearside and black fleet numbers were fitted at the rear of the bus.
Leyland Atlantean 168 was eventually withdrawn on Wednesday 30th July 2003, once the school term had finished and left Milehouse on Monday 11th August 2003 for its new owners Shamrock Coaches of Poole. They would only own the bus for a short time before they sold it and its career in preservation began, initially in the North East of England and then in May 2008 sold again and returned to Plymouth and membership of the Plymouth City Transport Preservation Group. Since its return work to replace damaged internal panels and trim and corrosion to the steps caused by water ingress has been tackled and the aerial plate re-sealed having been identified as the source of the leak. Attention to the gearbox valves was carried out and most of the seats retrimmed in vinyl.
Work continues to return this vehicle to its former glory.
It was fitted with just a front entrance door as opposed to the usual dual door arrangement that had been previously supplied to the undertakings earlier batches of Leyland Atlantean AN68s’. The only exception to that policy had been the seven single door AN68s’, 131-135 (STK131-135T) and 138/143 (VJY138/143V), delivered in 1979 which were for both stage carriage and private hire work. The body number supplied with the East Lancs body fitted to 168 was A2816. The body dimensions were 8.3ft wide, 31ft long and 14.6ft high.
The chassis supplied by Leyland was the AN68C/1R version with a chassis number of 8100972 being applied. It was fitted with a six cylinder, type EO680/4003/8, engine. The engine number was 8161060. Brake horse power was 153 at 1750 rotations per minute. It was also fitted with a CAV DPA fuel pump, number R409190X, and a five speed close ratio pneumo cyclic semi automatic transmission. It was also fitted with a 1.263:1 ratio angle drive. The fuel tanks were capable of holding forty two gallons in total. The turning circle was listed as being 59ft and the swept circle was 69ft. The unladen weight for the body and chassis was 9 tons 10 cwt (9500kgs).
168 was delivered to Milehouse in the livery of cream roof and cream around the upper and lower and saloon windows and including both the windscreen and cantrail too. Red was applied between the upper and lower saloon windows and also below the lower saloon windows as well. The bus was lined out in black with the black lining being applied below both the upper and lower saloon windows and also above the cantrail. The Plymouth City Transport name and crest was fitted above the cab window and also above the front entrance door, as was the trend at the time on all new buses and those repainted as well. The bus was fitted with cream fleet numbers being applied to the front, nearside and offside and black numbers fitted to the rear of the vehicle.
Just after delivery Leyland Atlantean AN68s’ 164-169, (TTT164-169X), would be placed new on Services 18/19, displacing older Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean PDR2s’ 1-6, (NDR501-506J). Service 18 operated from Royal Parade to Plymouth Station, Milehouse, Lower Ham, West Park, Little Dock Lane, Honicknowle Green, Burrington, Box Hill then through Peverell to Mutley Plain, North Hill and Bretonside viaduct to Royal Parade. The Service 19 operated over the reverse of the Service 18 route. 168 would stay on these routes until the big timetable change in October 1982, following the M.A.P. survey earlier in that year.