Following the loan of MCW's Metrobus
demonstrator, TOJ 592S, between
November 1978 and January 1979, the
MPTE ordered five Metrobuses with
MCW's own bodywork as part of its
experimental vehicle programme.
The five buses were numbered 0019-
0023 in the PTE's unusual fleet number
scheme (the numbers 0001-0018 were
never used by the MPTE) and 0019
was delivered in time for display at the
PTE's Big Bus Show at Edge Lane in
September 1979, the remainder were delivered in early 1980.
In order to evaluate the different engine options, 0019-0021 had Gardner 6LXB engines but 0022 and 0023 were originally fitted with Rolls Royce Eagle 220 engines. However, these were later replaced by Gardner 6LXBs in December 1992. All five buses had Voith D851 3-speed fully automatic transmission.
They were delivered in the recently introduced revised livery of Verona green and Jonquil cream with brown side window frames and skirt trim. The interior of these buses featured a symbolic Merseyside skyline on the ceiling cove panels on both decks and "Warerite Hopsack" laminate covered side panels and seat backs with brown imitation leather seats.
The five MCW bodied examples were joined in 1982 by ten additional Metrobuses, but these were bodied with Alexander "R" Type bodywork (nos. 0042/3 & 0056-63) and were very similar in appearance to the ten Alexander bodied Dennis Dominators (nos. 0035/6 & 0046-53) delivered at the same time.
All of the Metrobuses spent the vast majority of their working lives based at Gillmoss Garage, passing to Merseybus on its formation in 1986 then later to Merseyside Transport Limited (MTL). Withdrawal finally came after a very respectable life span of nearly 19 years, apart from 0019 which was withdrawn slightly earlier after suffering serious accident damage.
After withdrawal in December 1996, 0023 was acquired by London Coaches via a dealer in April 1997. In addition to being used on the Original London Sightseeing Tour it also saw use on rail replacement work and in the evenings on a Butlins Hotel contract in Central London.
Despite being non-standard compared to the rest of the Metrobuses in the London Coaches Fleet, which were mainly ex- London Transport examples built to their unique specification, 0023 (now re-numbered MB23), survived in relatively unaltered condition. Significantly, it retained its roof, unlike the majority of the vehicles used on the Original London Sightseeing Tour which are converted to open top condition. However, its front destination panel was replaced and a public address system fitted.
After Arriva had taken over the London Coaches operation, MB23 became a driver training vehicle at its Wandsworth Garage and was repainted into Arriva's standard training vehicle livery of white with a grey skirt.
Unfortunately MB23 collided with the rear end of another bus early in December 2001. The damage incurred was sufficient for the bus to be deemed beyond economical repair and it was withdrawn, To make matters worse the engine and gearbox were removed for use elsewhere.
Despite the damage and lack of most of its mechanical bits, it was decided by members of the Trust that 0023 was still worth saving. After contacting the very helpful Engineering Manager at Arriva's Wandsworth Garage, a satisfactory deal for the bus was concluded and arrangements were made for the bus to be towed to the Trust's base in West Lancashire courtesy of Michael Fitton of the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Group, using his superb Seddon Atkinson Recovery Vehicle.
0023 arrived at Burscough at the beginning of March 2002 but, as is often the case, buying the bus is the easy part! Restoration has now started with the engine and gearbox being replaced in late 2005. Body parts are now being sourced to return 0023 back to its MPTE condition.