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  November 2016
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Take A Seat
Upgraded Scottish Y-Types
 
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Background

When is a bus not a bus ?   Answer when it is a dual-purpose (DP) vehicle ?   These vehicles were basically buses with coach seats which allowed operators the flexibility of using them on a variety of services including lengthy stage carriage routes or even the occasional private hire or express service.   In Scotland the trusty Alexander Y-Type provided this capability during the 60ís, 70ís and 80ís.   So imagine the delight of Midland Scottish when it learned in 1983 that it had the opportunity of converting 13 members of its Y-Type Leopards from buses to DP vehicles.   These sets of seats had become available from front line coaches which had been upgraded to Scottish Citylink standard using brand new bright blue tartan reclining seats.   Rather than bin the seats from these Duple and Alexander TE coaches they could be re-used in the newest buses giving Midland an early Christmas present. 

  Conversion

A pilot vehicle was chosen Ė MPE278 (GMS278S) Ė a well-used Leopard from Stepps depot in Glasgow.   Its 53 bus seats were replaced by 49 seats from a TE Type coach and it was reallocated to Kirkintilloch.    It was soon apparent that the project was a success so a further 13 Y-Types, mainly one from each depot, were converted in the following months.   True to the tradition of DP vehicles several of these buses continued to trundle around on their former local routes while some ventured further on longer routes such as (14) Glasgow to Dunfermline and (15) Falkirk to Alloa.   They also popped up during the summer season to provide duplicates on Scottish Citylink services including cross-border journeys.   However many of them were to have quite a career, serving a further three or four companies.    [See all photos above]

 

Career

The Scottish Bus Group re-cast its structure in 1985 with the creation of four new companies.   The consequence was that most of the DP Leopards ended up with Kelvin, the new Glasgow based company.   A handful stayed with Midland and the Crieff example went to Strathtay.   The Midland and Strathtay examples saw their days out with those companies but the Kelvin examples moved almost immediately to Highland as part of a larger swap of Y-Type Leopards for Leyland Nationals.   They were scattered far and wide with Highland but incredibly their adventure was just beginning.   Many of these vehicles then moved to Stagecoach Fife who painted them in corporate stripes and from there several were then transferred to Western, their fifth company.   The Western vehicles not surprisingly survived the longest with some even being converted back to buses at the very end.

         
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Coaches
During the 1970ís while National Express was operating Duple and Plaxton bodied Leopards, the best that the Scottish Bus Group (SBG) could offer for express services and coach tours was vehicles such as T-Type Seddons and Y-Type Bedfords.   So in 1983 it was decided to create Scottish Citylink, a brand for all SBG express services, to be operated by coaches with an up-market specification of reclining seats and in many cases toilets.   The only coaches in the group that already met these standards were those used on services to London, so immediate investment was required.   However rather than wait for these orders to be delivered, SBG pressed on with the launch of Scottish Citylink requiring a hasty re-paint and upgrade of pre-existing stock.   Despite Midland having its headquarters in Falkirk, its commitment to coaching and express work centred on the Glasgow area.   Stepps depot operated about five vehicles daily on services to places such as Aberdeen and Inverness and Kirkintilloch provided about 10 coaches per week in the summer months for the extended tours operation it had inherited from Lawsons in the 1960ís.   So the decision was made to upgrade 14 coaches with blue tartan reclining seats which were somewhat primitive by todayís standards but a leap in the dark for the SBG at the time.   As described above, the displaced seats from these coaches were then installed in Y-Type buses to convert them to dual purpose vehicles.

Duple Coaches
Nine Duple bodied Leopards and Tigers were duly converted and continued on extended tour work until the 1985 reorganisation of the SBG.   At that point one Tiger and three Leopards went to the newly formed Kelvin and three Tigers and one Leopard remained with Midland.    Soon after, SBG branded all extended tours under the Monarch banner that continued to use some of the Duple bodied Tigers.   Eventually the Duple Tigers would be found on normal stage carriage work until they were finally withdrawn.   Kelvinís Duple Leopards also soldiered on operating normal duties, being repainted in several versions of Kelvinís bright livery.   Some even made it into the Kelvin Central Buses fleet when Kelvin was merged with Central in 1989.   Ultimately these really were stop-gap vehicles, destined to provide local passengers with an unexpected level of comfort on suburban routes.   [See photos immediately above]

TE Coaches
The five TE-Type Tigers however led an altogether more exciting life.   Spread around several depots, once they were converted and painted they were immediately put to work on front line Citylink services.    The 1985 reorganisation saw three go to Kelvin, one to Midland and one to Strathtay.   Once Kelvin found its feet, it realised it had inherited a significant amount of coaches from Central and Eastern making the Tigers surplus to requirement.  This resulted in their transfer to Northern for use on the routes from Aberdeen to Peterhead and Fraserburgh.   After Stagecoach bought Northern they ended their days in corporate stripes with Inverness Traction.   Midlandís example returned to fleet livery and operated local express work in the Falkirk area and after a lengthy career with Strathtay their vehicle has recently entered preservation minus its Citylink seats.   [See photos in the middle]

 

 

  TMS407X - Keep on Moving
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  Midland MPE407 (TMS407X) spent all of it's life on the move.   Starting as a bus with Midland at Kirkintilloch, it was converted to DP, became part of Kelvin and was painted in the yellow wedge livery, moved to Highland initially at Inverness and then at Thurso, went to Stagecoach Fife at Dunfermline and finally Stagecoach Western as a bus again at Ayr.

 

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