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Doors for Doub Growth ckers are 'opular

14th December 1956
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Page 50, 14th December 1956 — Doors for Doub Growth ckers are 'opular
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Platform Doors, Worked by Power or by Hand, Give Safety on Town Services and Comfort on the Longer Runs MANY operators who have fitted doors to double-deckers approve of them and some are enthusiastic. They have been found, in some instances at least, not to interfere with operating schedules and their cost has been recovered in reduced accident claims and in other ways. But they still have keen antagonists.

Although doors for double-deck buses were not seriously considered by operators generally before the war, they were introduced in 1930 by the Belfast Omnibus Co., Ltd., because of the dust in summer on untarred roads. They were manually operated and arranged to fold. The company was merged into the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board in 1935, and since then this type of door has been specified on all double-deckers of the Board and the Ulster Transport Authority.

Today, the U.T.A. has 133 such buses, comprising 104 Leyland, 22 A.E.C., and seven Guy. Sixty-seven of the bodies were built by U.T.A., 28 by Leyland, 26 by Park Royal, and 12 by Cowieson.

Another early user wasJames Sutherland (Peterhead), Ltd., who operated on top of the cliffs on the east coast of northern Scotland. On southbound journeys the sea winds blew into the open entrance and almost froze the passengers. So in 1932 doors were fitted in the operator's own workshops, to a 1929 Leyland Titan. No coachbuilder was willing to do the work.

Thereafter they were employed extensively. The company was acquired in 1950 by W. Alexander and Sons, Ltd., who still retain the c10 doors in that part of their territory.

Reading Corporation Were pioneers of the use of rear folding doors on town buses and have both air-operaated and electric types on motorbuses and t rol leyb uses.

It was felt that a one-off test was useless, as the public would treat it as a novelty, or else be caught by surprise and slow up the service. For any experiment to be of value, an entire route or group of routes must be equipped.

Twenty B.U.T. four wheeled trolleybuses with Park Royal 56-seat bodies incorporating double-jackknife doors were purchased in 1949 for use on the Whitley Estate Services, which need 16 vehicles. Four were available as spares.

They were so successful that 18 months later another 24 vehicles with doors, this time electrically worked, were purchased. These were 12 Sunbeam six-wheeled trolleybuses with Park Royal 68-seat bodies. and 12 Crossley motorbuses with Crossley 52seat bodies. Early in 1956 five A.E.C. Regents with Park Royal 53-seat bodies and electric doors arrived.

On the main trolleyhus route from Wokingham Road to Tilehurst there are 36 stops. Some are request stops, and not always used, but the doors are worked about 65 times in each round trip. As 15 round trips are made per day, each door is opened and closed about 975 times. Doors on the motorbuses are used less intensively, for the routes are longer and stops less frequent.

In the last year before doors were fitted Reading had 72 platform accidents on trolleybuses and 66 on motorbuses. But in 1954-55 there were 25 and 24 respectively, of which only six occurred on vehicles with doors. These were of avery minor nature, caused by people or their luggage becoming caught betiveen the doors as they closed.

Reading still has 25 trolleybuses and 29 motorbuses with open platforms. With only 56 per cent. of the rolleybuses having doors, platform accidents in the entire trolleybus fleet have fallen by 87 per cent, and with only 29 per cent, of the motorbuses equipped (neglecting the live latest ones). accidents have fallen by 59 per cent. These figures are influenced by the fact that buses with doors are in use all day long, but many open buses come out only at rush hours.

Although a bus with doors costs about £160 more than one without. this sum is soon saved by a reduction in third-party accident claims. The provision of doors also frees the conductor from the need to watch the platform closely, and he has a better chance to collect all his fares, as passengers cannot alight before the bits stops and thereby avoid him. It is significant that the .takings of honesty boxes are greater on buses with doors than on those without.

There is a large window in the bulkhead, at eye level above the normal window, and a large mirror is fixed above the windscreen in line with it. The driver thus has an excellent view of the inside of the bus and its platform, and can see when to close the doors without turning his head. Normal exterior mirrors are also fitted on both sides.

Platforms of all Reading buses with doors are on the same level as the saloon floor, with two steps up from the road. The second step prevents passengers from standing too close to the inside of the doors and obstructing them from opening. There is a 2-in, gap below the doors to allow for the hinge rod.

Since doors were introduced no request has come from the crews or their union for increased running time, and the same time-tables are being worked today as in 1948. This proves doors do not slow up the schedule. The crews were suspicious at first, but their goodwill and co-Operation were soon obtained. For school specials, Reading uses only enclosed vehicles, which can be worked legally without a conductor. One teacher per bus is sufficient.

The largest fleet of double-deckers. with rear doors is that of the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co., Ltd., already nearly 500 strong and growing every week. The first appeared 10-1years ago, and was followed five years later by 100 with Brush bodies on B.M.M.O. chassis. A second 100 have Leyland bodies and chassis, but all the rest, including the prototype, have M.C.W. bodies on B.M.M.O. chassis.

They are used with equal success on all types of service, from the closeheadway, short-stage, town routes of the Black Country to long-distance, inter-urban, main-road work. No more open-platform buses will be purchased.

Many other B.E.T. companies are now using rear doors. All save some of the Ribble fleet are the electrically operated, double-jack-knife type, as are all those of the B.M.M.O. They are mostly on Park Royal or M.C.W. bodies, but there are many variations. Hand-worked doors were rejected, or not even contemplated. Doors are used only on long rural routes and are for comfort rather than safety.

Southdown Motor Services, Ltd., bought a double-decker with doors at the end of 1950 and another 124 from 1951 onwards. More will be purchased until there are enough for all country routes.

In 1953, East Kent Road Car Co., Ltd., obtained 29 Guy Arabs with Park Royal bodies having doors to the rear platforms. It is expected that doors will continue to be fitted to double-deckers on the longerdistance town-to-town services, but it is not likely that they will be used on purely town buses.

Buses with doors are used on all the longer routes, such as from Canterbury to Maidstone and Dover to Ramsgate, and On the shorter route over the cliffs from Dover to Folkestone. They are kept to their own fixed routes. Private-hire customers often ask for them.

There is no interlock to prevent the driver starting with the door open, or opening it before the bus stops, but his instructions are that it must always be closed while the .bus is moving, even in a heat wave. There are an emergency switch on the platform and an emergency valve outside on the entrance pillar.

East Kent doors are opened and closed only by the driver, who has. two push-buttons near his left hand, with a red warning light between them to tell him when the doors are open.

In the Southdown fleet, however, t h e driver opens the door and the conductor normally closes them, though both men have a full set of controls. If the conductor is upstairs he rings the buzzer, instead of the downstairs bell, and the driver closes the doors.

Maidstone and District Motor Services, Ltd., located geographically between the Southdown and East Kent companies, now consider doors essential for inter-urban buses. Two years ago it was decided to convert old vehicles, as no new buses were required.

As the newest buses had special lightweight bodies it was felt unwise to hamper them with the weight Of doors, and the conversion was made on 28 Leylands of 1951. These were already working the long crosscountry routes, such as Gillingham to Hastings and Gravesend to Brighton. Eight new A.E.C.-Park Royal buses with doors were purchased early in 1956 for use between Ashford and East Grinstead.

Ribble Motor Services, Ltd., bought 30 double-deckers with airworked jack-knife doors as long ago as 1948, and another 20 in 1950. They have luxurious Burlingham bodies, and are used on express services.

The B.T.C. companies use only c12 hand-operated two-leaf doors. Some 25 with Duple bodies on Guy chassis were built for Red and White Services, Ltd., early in 1950, followed by 15 Duple-Guys for four sub sidiary companies. Electric doors were suggested, but rejected as too costly and heavy. Thirty bodies were built at Bristol in 1952 on war-time Guy chassis, for use by the parent company, who also received eight Bristol Lodekkas with doors in 1955.

Doors were first employed on buses on the 56-mile Cardiff— Gloucester route. This has 138 fixed stops and unlimited request stops. They are now used on most Red and White routes other than local ones, and appear even on some works services.

All these buses have Clayton heaters. The platforms are at the lower level, with the step up into the saloon at the normal place. Doors are worked solely by the conductors, who like them and make no complaints of having to return to the platform at every stop to do so.

One of the subsidiary companies, Newbury and District Motor Services, Ltd., took three buses and operated them to Oxford over exposed downland. This company was later acquired by the Thames Valley Traction Co., Ltd., which still. uses them.

Doors of similar pattern were then fitted by Thames Valley to six K613 Bristols, with E.C.W. bodies, for use on two routes between Reading and London. The buses averaged 85,000 miles a year for three years, sometimes doing four return trips per day and 2,300 miles per Week.

Nine more door-equipped buses followed; these now run also on other routes. When weather permits, the doors are left open. Power operation is not thought necessary, nor intended in the future. Twenty Bristol Lodekkas are joining the fleet this summer, but only 10 have doors. Ii is felt that open platforms will always be needed for some Thames Valley routes.

Among other users of doors on double-deckers are Bristol Tramways and Carriage Co., Ltd., Southern Vectis, Hants and Dorset, United Counties, Western National, West Yorkshire, West Wales Motor Services, Ltd., Messrs. A. Skill, of Nottingham, W. Gash and Sons, Ltd., of Newark, South Yorkshire Motors, Ltd., and Coras Iompair Eireann.

Many operators, especially municipalities, have no urge to try the use of doors. Birmingham Transport Department believes they would increase running time and costs.

As the extra capital cost is £160,. doors would cost £20 per bus per year on an eight-year life. To equip all the city's 1,800 buses would cost £36,000 per year. But last year's total claims bill for all third-party accidents—not merely platform accidents — was also £36,000, this being a typical year.

If doors were fitted they would have to be power-operated, for the less-costly hand-worked type could, say the corporation, be tampered with by passengers. People might then jump on the bus just as the doors were closing, and get caught in them and be thrown off.

Boarding and alighting accidents are already reduced by the extra wide platforms on all Birmingham buses, which have straight staircases requiring the sacrifice of two seats. Traffic density is such that drivers already have enough responsibility, without pressing door buttons.

Birmingham routes have six stops per mile. To work doors at each one would slow down the service, need extra vehicles and aggravate congestion. In the city centre a bus has to creep up to stops a few yards at a time, and many people alight before it gets there. To prevent them from doing so would prolong the time spent at the stop. J.C.G.

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