TOWNLINK BUSES (formerly SM COACHES) , ROADRUNNER,
& OLYMPIAN


Last update
9th November 201
4


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Townlink Routes
Townlink Bus Fleet
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Bus Fleet
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Olympian Coaches Coach Fleet

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Townlink Buses (formerly SM Coaches) and Olympus Bus and Coach (including Olympian Coaches, RoadRunner Buses, Roadrunner Coaches etc.) are connected Harlow based independents.  Both are shown here, as besides ownership falling under the same family, operationally the two have been very closely linked, although a more settled and separate pattern has of late evolved between what is now Townlink Buses and the others.

The story started in a small way just post deregulation when as SM Travel, route T15, then a peak hour ECC contract linking Potter Street with the industrial area at Templefields (omitting the town centre) was taken on. The route evolved into being a commercial operation providing an all day service on Monday to Saturday serving the Town Centre, and had numerous extensions, deviations, withdrawals and reincarnations over the years. Expansion in general has been progressive for a number of years, and reached a peak in 2010 with intensive competition against Arriva and also Centrebus. Although this has retracted and settled now, they still represent a challenge to the larger and historically more dominant operators in the town. SM and Olympian have also traditionally had both private hire work and schools services, and a fair size coach fleet is also therefore maintained.

The Olympian Coaches name, after giving way to Roadrunner for bus work, has re-emerged with the latest repaints of 2012, succeeding a long period of un-branded operation. It has always been used for coaching, contract work, and also for the London commuter services that were taken over with the Stort Valley Coaches business in 2001. Many buses do remain un-branded.

The traditional SM fleet livery was of white with maroon skirt and sign-writing, but when the SM & Olympian bus operations effectively merged a few years ago for a while, this gave way to the white with blue skirt and sign-writing livery previously carried by Olympian. By this time the name had morphed from SM Travel into SM Coaches. In November 2013 the Townlink name, once seen as more likely to have been used by the Olympian/Roadrunner operation, came to replace the branding and route and vehicle registrations almost at a stroke, practically eliminating the SM Coaches name, including on coaches. 

As far as vehicles are concerned, the volume, volume of changes, and sometimes unusual choices, have always made for a very interesting scene. The recent building of a fleet of Dennis Dart SLF's, including 18 ALX200's (12 at SM and 6 at Roadrunner) 11 Mini Pointer Darts (3 at SM and 8 at Roadrunner) and a considerable number of Pointer 2's, would seen to signal a change of thinking. This may have been influenced by what would seem to have been a little difficulty in selling the more unusual fleet members.

A long-established, well equipped and fair-sized depot at Burnt Mill operates the Townlink fleet, and supports the Olympian/Roadrunner operation as well. It is packed tightly at night. An overflow parking lot at Harlow Business Park, houses much of the coach fleet, is the primary Olympian/Roadrunner operating base, and is used to store a reasonable number of non-operational vehicles of both Townlink and Olympian.

A considerable expansion in Roadrunner operations took effect from 5th November when the majority of the former Centrebus Harlow operations are assumed, adding approximately 13 vehicles to the daily run out. A reduction of about 8 then followed in May 2013.

TOWNLINK ROUTES

All routes serve Harlow:
19/20/21 Harlow to Brentwood - major commercial trunk service, Mon to Sat. PVR = apx. 10
524 Harlow to Hertford - Half-hourly commercial service, Mon to Sat. PVR = 2
T15 Harlow to Potter Street circular -regular commercial town service, Mon to Sat. PVR = 2


TOWNLINK BUS FLEET

Irisbus LoGo/Unvi
In 2007, despite other types dominating the minibus market, something quite different turned up, representing a quantum leap forward for minibuses with this operator. They have now been stood down from service. Only 2 of the 3 purchased have been sighted lately and so "XGM", which was in silver, has been removed, whilst the other 2 remain.
401
402
EU07XGK
EU07XGL


In plain Silver leaving the bus station in its first days in service is EU07XGM. All three now had fleet names applied. (R Hudson) 
   

In white and with fleet names applied is EU07XGK. (R Hudson) 


 

Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200
A new type to arrive in some quantity in summer 2012, 12 having entered service then. Normal fleet livery and logos are carried All are ex Stagecoach East London. Front LED's have been fitted, but side and rear displays are still those inherited from the former operator, and not used. Y344FJN is a 2014 addition.
 
LX51FFW
LX51FGU
LX51FHA
LX51FHB 
LX51FHH
LX51FHJ
LX51FHK
LX51FHL
Y293FJN
Y296FJN
Y344FJN
Y346FJN
Y351FJN

LX51FFW lays over at Harlow Bus Station. This was the first in full livery. (R Hudson) 
    Y351FJN shows the new fleet-name on the front. With neither fleet-name, or any route/destination information on the side, the vehicle does look a little bare.  (R Hudson) 

 

Dennis/Plaxton Mini Pointer Dart SLF
A batch of these vehicles started arriving with both the SM and Roadrunner fleets from November 2011, which reached 10 in total. Eight are from Go North-East, including the 3 initial SM examples. Initially three appeared in the all-over yellow of their former owner. The vehicles are now all in fleet livery, the SM examples having been completed since early after entry into service. A serious accident occurred in November 2013, V189ERG was involved and has not returned to service.
  V191ERG
V193ERG

The first into fleet livery was V193ERG, seen on the 19 at Harlow Bus Station. (R Hudson).
   

A rear shot of V193ERG shows the less common strip rear destination display. This is not back in use with SM at this time. (R Hudson).
    The Townlink name has now been applied, as seen on V191ERG, also on the 19 at Harlow Bus Station. (R Hudson).


Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer 2
In the SM/Townlink fleet, a number of these vehicles have come and gone. Three examples moved in from Olympian in 2013. The latest arrivals in May 2014 are former Arriva vehicles. 
 
V808KAG
Y553XAG
Y554XAG
S307JUA
S309JUA
S316JUA

V808KAG is one of the 3 moved in from Olympian/Roadrunner. It displays the new fleet-name here at Harlow Bus Station  (R. Hudson)
    Townlink S316JUA Former Arriva vehicle S316JUA, one of 3 obtained in 2014, seen without fleet name at Harlow Bus Station  (R. Hudson)

 


OLYMPIAN COACHES & ROADRUNNER ROUTES

Within Harlow:
511/512 Harlow to Bishops Stortford & Thorley Park - significant commercial trunk service, Mon to Sat. PVR = apx. 5
R1 Harlow to Sumners & Katherines -regular commercial town service, Mon to Sat. PVR = 3
741 Bishops Stortford to London - Peak hour commuter coach service, Mon to Fri. PVR = 4
Outside Harlow:
245 Brookfield Centre to Waltham Cross (Holdbrook Estate) Mon to Saturday half-hourly commercial service. PVR = 2 (until 16th May 2014 only)
254 Waltham Abbey - Debden Park School. School service, Schooldays, PVR = 1
255 Waltham Cross to Debden via Loughton, Mon to Sat regular commercial service. PVR = apx. 6.

311 & 312 - Waltham Cross to Hertford, HCC Sunday contract services (plus one evening journey on 311).
 



OLYMPIAN COACHES & ROADRUNNER BUSES BUS FLEET

 

Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200
In the same way that SM acquired a batch in 2012, six have arrived with Roadrunner, initially to assist with the former Centrebus operations. All are ex-Stagecoach East London and they have been fitted with smart custom blinds. All 6 received white and blue corporate livery and featured a smart single door conversion. One has since been removed from service.
   
LX51FGV
LX51FGJ
LX51FGN
LX51FGO
LX51FHG

 

LX51FGV seen in service on route 511. (R Hudson) 


 

Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer II
The plentiful supply of this type of vehicle, many cascaded from London, has meant that there has been a reasonably significant throughput of examples coming and going over the years, with most of those shown below having been in the fleet for less than a year. The Olympian/Roadrunner vehicles have generally carried no fleet name for a lot of that time, but last year a number gained OlympianCoaches.co.uk branding.  The "NLK" and "NLO" batches were obtained for the assumption of the former Centrebus Harlow operations since largely discontinued, and have been observed with smart custom blinds and also retain their centre exit doors, although these are not used in service.
 
 
Y161NLK
Y237NLK
Y653NLO
Y662NLO
Y664NLO
Y667NLO
Y669NLO
Y862TGH 
Y907TGH
Y971TGH
Y542XAG
V787FKH

SM Coiaches Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer II R476LGH

P301AYJ (since departed) sits at Harlow bus station demonstrating the new branding.  (R. Hudson)
    From the newer batches, Y161NLK and Y669NLO are in service on the C3, a route now operated by Trustybus. Note the dual-doors. (R. Hudson)

 

Dennis/Plaxton Mini Pointer Dart SLF
The Mini Pointer Dart effectively become the standard RoadRunner bus until the fleet increase that came about following the Centrebus takeover, with no less than 8 in service in 2012. Six originated with Go North East and entered service in yellow, all since repainted. The next 2 started with Arriva Northumbria whilst the final addition came from TWH. Blue and white livery and the OlympianCoaches.co.uk fleet-name is carried on all but the latest acquisitions. There are two similar vehicles in the Townlink fleet.
 
  V188ERG
V196ERG
V199ERG
V729DNL
V749ECU
X507WRG

Showing full fleet livery with dot matrix displays retained and working in all 3 positions. The vehicle is pictured on SM's route 20. (R Hudson)
    Former TWH bus X507WRG sits at the dreary Debden terminus of the 255, with sister vehicle, Trustybus' X501WRG in the background. (R Hudson)

 
SM COACHES COACH FLEET

Iveco Maxim2
An unusual looking and reasonably rare midi-coach.  The vehicle is in all-over silver livery.
  FN02VBK

 

(picture to follow)

 

Iveco Euromidi 95/Indicar Eco-3
.  
  N179OUT

(R Hudson)


 

Iveco EuroRider/Beulas
Iveco chassis dominate the SM and Olympian coach fleets. Spanish bodybuilder  Beulas also features in the case of both fleets, as on the two in the SM fleet below. Both of the SM vehicles are now in silver livery. LKD carries branding for a London to Stansted Airport service. 
 
LV02LKD
F10BUS
 

LV02LLJ

(R Hudson)


 

Iveco EuroRider/Irisbus C33
 
SM10BUS
 

 

(Picture to follow)



OLYMPIAN COACHES COACH FLEET
 

DAF SB3000/Van Hool
A high-end coach, initially for the London commuter services. The livery and branding was used for a few years, but is now superseded by all-over silver and the olympiancoaches.co.uk fleet-name. 304 at least has received this.
  Y304HUA
Y314HUA

Seen leaving the bus station, the vehicle is actually operating on SM Coaches service 19 (Harlow - Epping) (R Hudson)

 

Iveco EuroRider 35/Beulas Stergo.
The dominant type in the fleet. At least four are now in all-over silver, the other (XIB3914) in blue and silver.  
 
LV02LLJ
MKZ6312
XIB3914
S235HGU
T289CGU
 

LV02LLJ

(R Hudson)

 

Iveco CC100E
 
YN05ARX
 

 

(Picture to follow)

 

Scania/Irizar PB
These very striking looking vehicles now feature regularly on the 741 commuter services.  
 
YN04GPF
YN04GPV
YN06CKY
 

 

(Picture to follow)

 

Volvo B10M/Plaxton Excalibur
Olympian operated a private shuttle service between Harlow Town Centre, Station, and various sites of Glaxo Smith Kline. These vehicles featured for a while.
  V282SBW
V283SBW

A livery variation once again for these latest arrivals, applied so far to "283". (R Hudson)

     

Volvo B12B/Plaxton Panther
 
FJ55XBC
CN05DZF

 

 

(Picture to follow)

 



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