|ADE40131 was part of a regular batch of E400s that used to work the 222. It is one of a few left at Hounslow for use on the 81.|
The 222 runs between Uxbridge and Hounslow Bus Station, running through West Drayton, Cranford and Hounslow West in the process. It's one of the busiest routes in Hounslow Town Centre, and it recently joined the increasing number of routes than run 24/7 in London. The former allocation consisted of ADL Enviro 400s based at Hounslow (AV) garage, although Scania OmniCity buses were also found on a regular basis. In terms of reliability, London United were praised throughout their contract for generally maintaining a decent service, even when the route was operated with single deckers a few years ago. The 222 is quite popular with enthusiasts, due to the mixture of urban high streets, outer London residential running, and the possibility of a "thrashy" journey, particularly around the Sipson area. Many enthusiasts were gutted that London United had lost the service, especially because the company had given up so many other major routes at the time. Since the contract change, some of the ADL E400s are still at Hounslow (AV) garage working the 81, although others can be found working on the long-term London Overground Rail Replacement service, or up in North West London on the recently acquired route 258.
Personally, I've always been quite fond of the 222, as it's one of the more interesting routes found in quite a dry part of West London. Although I've generally been unlucky with fast trips, the external surroundings are interesting enough to keep you entertained, especially around Heathrow. I had mixed feelings about Metroline running the 222; even though they are capable of providing an excellent service, the large number of bus types previously found on the route would be ruined, as Metroline tend to be much more strict with allocations. Nevertheless, I wasn't dreading the changeover, and I was intrigued to see how Uxbridge (UX) garage would cope with this difficult service. Predictably, Metroline ordered some Wrightbus Gemini 3 B5LH vehicles for the new contract, which started on Saturday 16th September 2017.
|Metroline VWH2172 is seen at Hounslow Bell Corner on the first day of the new contract.|
|Metroline VWH2183 is seen at Uxbridge Station at the end of a route 222 journey on the first day.|
|Metroline Travel VWH2323 pauses at Ruislip Manor Station, towards the end of a route 114 journey to Ruislip.|
|Metroline Travel TE948 is seen at Uxbridge at the end of a route U4 journey.|
In general, we can infer that Metroline have been quite successful with the 222 takeover, as the service on that route has been decent (bar the first night). However, it's a shame that other routes like the 114 have suffered as a result of Metroline's lack of organisation, and hopefully the 222 VWHs enter service promptly so this debacle can be sorted out.
Thanks for reading and stay safe!