So long Centra London. No one will miss you

Published on 23 May 2006 in , , , ,

Well it appears Friday should have been a day of celebration for the residents of Merton. For on Friday, bus company Centra London ran its last ever journeys. It appears their remaining three bus services – the 200, 201 and 493 – all got new operators the following day, and the company has now given up running passenger services.

Actually some would say they gave up running their bus services some time ago. If they ever started. The routes I (occasionally) use – the 200 and the 152 (which they ceased running a month or so ago) – were generally unreliable, the drivers usually hopeless and the buses scruffy and with a feeling that someone was going to fall off any moment.

To be fair, part of the problem was what the company was based on – Central Parking Systems bought Mitcham Belle in September 2004. They bought a company which, by all accounts, was struggling to even have half of its fleet out of its depot. The rest just weren’t roadworthy and there was no money for repairs.

Those buses that could get out of the depot usually had ticket machines that didn’t work properly, and if you wanted to use the wheelchair ramp, well you were generally met with an A4 sign explaining that you were out of luck.

When the company flogged off its assets for £1.25million, and quickly went into receivership, no one was particularly sad to see the back of them.

Some might say that Centra did try to get the buses back into shape, and it’s true that the wheelchair ramps and Oystercard readers did tend to work, but the buses were still a scruffy mess, the service reliability still terrible, and the drivers still more interested in talking on their mobiles than driving a bus.

Okay, so what Centra started with was the absolute pits, but in 18 months on the road, they only managed to make it slightly less the pits. Looking at latest London Buses perfomance league tables stats today, Centra came bottom in every single one. In two cases there are minimum acceptable standards. Centra came well below them both.

As you might gather, I’m rather happy never to have travel by them again. But if Centra are reading and looking for ideas of what to do with their now redundant fleet of decrepit single decker buses, here’s an idea. Scrap yard and a big JCB…