Forty years of Metrobus celebration

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This Leyland Lynx was new to Metrobus in 1992 as one of relatively few single-deckers in the fleet. RICHARD LEWIS

Nick Larkin reports on an event marking four decades and a lot of change for one south-east operator

Forty years of legendary former independent Metrobus are being celebrated at the South East Bus Festival on Saturday 1 April with vehicles and a special guest. Co-founder of the originally Orpington, Kent-based operator in July 1983 Peter Larking will be giving a talk starting at 1330hrs about the company’s early years.

Metrobus was formed when Peter and fellow co-founder Gary Wood bought the subsidiary of Surrey operator Tillingbourne set up to run services locally following the collapse of Orpington & District in 1981. Working from that operator’s former garage at Green Street Green, Metrobus began with three routes and six vehicles, rapidly building up operations in an area not well-known for independent service bus providers. It took over Southland Travel and RB Coaches in 1991.


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New vehicles including Leyland Olympians were bought, and rather in contrast a 1953 former London Transport AEC Regal RF, MLL 752, was used on a summer service between Bromley and Tunbridge Wells in 1994. Metrobus was bought by Go-Ahead in 1999 and now operates around 150 vehicles in and around London and Sussex.

The organisers hope to have five preserved Metrobus vehicles at the South East Bus Festival, including new to Tillingbourne Duple-bodied AEC Reliance JTM 109V. A slide show of pictures featuring the operator by Terry and Roy Blackman will run throughout the event.

The Festival, at the Kent Showground near Maidstone, attracts modern and heritage buses and coaches from a wide area. Said co-organiser Richard Lewis: “We already have nearly 100 vehicles booked in and we are very much looking forward to celebrating 40 years of Metrobus, which is our theme for the event.”

Also speaking will be Roger French, former Managing Director of Brighton & Hove, who will be talking at 1130hrs about his experiences of travelling on Britain’s bus and rail networks for his twice-weekly BusAndTrainUser blog.

Details of the Festival, including how to enter a bus or coach, can be found on the event’s website at or via Facebook at

This Eastern Coach Works-bodied Leyland Olympian was added to the fleet in August 1985. RICHARD LEWIS
East Lancs Volvo Olympian R834 MFR was bought new in 1997. RICHARD LEWIS