||An early example
of a 36ft AEC Reliance, Maidstone & District 3704 was
a 2U3RA model built in 1963 with a Willowbrook 53 seat bus
body. It was seen near the end of its career with the company
in the summer of 1975, running on the lengthy service between
Hastings and Tunbridge Wells via Hawkhurst. The service had
recently been renumbered from 84 as part of a single route
numbering scheme being introduced for Maidstone & District
and East Kent services. The number 254 is still used today
for some Hawkhurst-Tunbridge Wells journeys although most
through journeys to Hastings run as South Coast Buses 349.
|Maidstone and District
3749, with Weymann BET federation style bodywork, at Hawkhurst
bus station on a foggy morning in the spring of 1975. This
picture was taken shortly before the Hastings-Hawkhurst-Tunbridge
Wells service was renumbered 254 (see above). Hawkhurst bus
station and depot has varied in importance over the years,
being reduced to an outstation at one stage but regaining
full depot status again in the late 1980s and even becoming
a regional engineering centre for a while. It finally closed
in February 2008 following the loss by Arriva Kent & Sussex
of county council contracts in the area.
||Also new to Maidstone
& District, Weymann dual-purpose bodied Reliance 2580
was the first bus to be bought by fledgling dealer Wealden
Omnibuses after withdrawal in 1979. It was used as a hire
vehicle for a while before being sold to Tonbridge based independent
New Enterprise, with whom it is seen passing though the village
of Ightham in July 1985. New Enterprise was subsequently bought
by Maidstone & District, and the identity and Tonbridge
premises are still used today for Arriva Kent & Sussex's
low cost subsidiary.
|East Kent was a
major user of AEC Reliances, Swifts and Regents. Reliance
OFN 715F was seen at Canterbury bus station in April 1978.
East Kent was unusual amongst major operators in not using
fleetnumbers but relied instead on obtaining registrations
with unique numbers. Fleetnumbers were introduced later in
1978 when OFN 715F would become 1715. The Canterbury bus station
site is still in use today and benefitted from a major redevelopment
in 2001, and of course the buses are now mainly white, blue
|Another keen user
of AEC buses was the City of Oxford Motor Services. Willowbrook
bodied 50, originally bought for the London express services,
stands in the snow at the old Gloucester Green bus station
in January 1979. The redeveloped, smaller, Gloucester Green
has few friends as many services don't stop there, and those
that do are subject to delays due to restricted access and
||South Wales was
an avid AEC user, running Reliances of both lengths, Regents
and even some AEC Swifts (although they were less successful
in the hilly environment and quickly moved to London Country).
One of the last batch of Reliance buses, 466 had coach seats
in its bus body and was painted in NBC dual-purpose livery
indicating its availability for use as a service bus or as
an express coach. Towards the end of its career with the company
it was most likely to be found on bus duties such as when
seen at Pontardawe in October 1981. South Wales took one further
batch of Reliances, with Duple coach bodies (one is illustrated
on the Reliance coaches page).
||The Neath and Cardiff
company used many AEC Reliances, including a pair of long
wheelbase models with uncommon Plaxton Derwent bodies fitted
with coach seats for express work along the South Wales coast.
They passed with the company's operations to South Wales Transport.
UCY 980J was seen in October 1981 as South Wales 461, ending
its days on local bus work in the Port Talbot area although
on this occasion it had made it along the road to Swansea.
|New NBC subsidiary
London Country took a batch of 90 Park Royal bodied Reliances
with dual-purpose seats on semi-automatic 6U2R chassis to
upgrade Greenline services. Although generally downgraded
to bus work in later life many retained Greenline livery,
such as RP18 at Heathrow Airport in July 1982, and continued
to appear frequently on Greenline duties until all withdrawn
in February 1984.
|RP43 was sold to
Rennie of Dunfermline after withdrawal, and was seen outside
their Cairneyhill depot in August 1983. It was later to travel
back south and find employment with Prestwood Travel of Great
Missenden. There are more pictures of this bus on the Before
and After page.
|RP21 was reacquired
by LCBS successor company London & Country with the business
of AML of Hounslow. It was restored to original Greenline
livery and ran in the Guildford area, appropriately as the
last RP in service with LCBS had been RP25 at Guildford.
Here it is seen on a Surrey CC Sunday service at Windsor in
August 1995. After moving to Horsham for school duties,
it was later sold. It is now privately preserved and appears
at running days in the outer London area.
||Percivals of Oxford
and Premier Travel of Cambridge jointly ran a service between
two university cities for many years until it died in the
1980s. Alexander Y type dual-purpose AEC Reliance VER 262L
was new to Premier Travel but had been bought from them by
Percivals when seen taking layover at Oxford's Gloucester
Green bus station in June 1982. This bus is now preserved
at the Oxford Bus Museum and another picture of it can be
found on the Preserved page. The
route between Oxford and Cambridge is now served by Stagecoach
United Counties X5 service, albeit via Milton Keynes rather
than Luton. The has become more successful than its predecessor
and is now half-hourly for much of the day.
independent Chiltern Queens ran many AEC Reliances on rural
routes in the Wallingford area. Plaxton bodied EUD 256K
was one of the few buses bought new by the company.
It was seen at the village of Watlington in August 1988 about
to depart for Reading. This bus is now preserved at
the Oxford Bus
Long established Scottish independent Hutchinson
of Overtown bought a number of AEC Reliance service buses
during the 1970s. This Willowbrook bodied example was pictured
when new. It is blinded for the Motherwell - Wishaw/Larkhall
corridor. The company continued operarting into the 21st
century but finally sold out to First Glasgow in 2007.
Photo by Phil Norris.
|In the later years
most Reliances were built as coaches but a few Duple Dominant
bus bodied models were taken by smaller operators. UGB
14R was new to Scottish operator Hutchinson of Overtown but
had moved south to Tillingbourne of Cranleigh when seen in
June 1985. Tillingbourne was expanding its operations
at the time and was adding secondhand purchases to its fleet
of Bedfords and locally built Dennis's.
services in the Scottish highlands for a while during the
early 1990s. Another of Hutchinson's Duple Dominant bodied
Reliances, JGE 347T had migrated north to the Gaelicbus fleet
and was seen at Oban on a service to Fort William. It's a
long way round by train (with a change at Crianlarich) but
the route wasn't successful and today it is only served by
Scottish Citylink coaches.
||The Ministry of
Defence used some AEC Reliances with these utility Marshall
bodies for armed forces personnel transport (Leyland Leopards
and, later, Leyland Tigers were also used). It is quite common
for such vehicles to be sold for civilian use. Here, one of
the Reliances has passed into the fleet of Scottish independent
Stewart of Dalkeith, and was seen on a Dalkeith local service
in July 1990. The bus had given up its military registration
plate and been reregistered with a civilian mark from the
Birmingham vehicle licensing office.
|| Another company
to acquire one of the ex MoD Marshall bodied Reliances was
Oxfordshire independent Chiltern Queens. It was painted in
their coach livery and probably used mainly for school contracts
but was seen here at Reading on a regular bus route in March
1994. This one had also been reregistered in Birmingham, probably
by a dealer who would acquire a batch and advertise them for
sale in the trade press.