Farewell to Cardiff’s bendy buses

1 week ago Mon 10th Jan 2022

Articulated buses, also known as bendy buses, have added a touch of European style to our Capital City, but as we prepare to say farewell to the remaining buses we look back at their time in Cardiff with an article written by our friend, Andrew Wiltshire.

By 2004 increased patronage on the Ely services 17/18 meant that Cardiff Bus needed bigger vehicles, even with a five-minute frequency. Cardiff Bus also wished to revamp the bus link between the City Centre and Cardiff Bay as “baycar”. A Mercedes Citaro articulated bus was borrowed in early 2005 for evaluation and used in service including the routes 17/18. An order was soon placed for a fleet of 19 two-door Scania OmniCity bendy buses that would be built in Poland. They would have seating for 53 and a standing capacity of 80 and featured many extras such as full air-conditioning, “next bus stop” displays, pre-recorded passenger announcements, internal and external CCTV.

Bus stops were modified to accommodate these massive buses and routes 17/18 were moved from the bus station to the north side of Wood Street.

The livery and all publicity material including timetables and bus stop flags were designed by Ray Stenning’s Best Impressions. Four vehicles 601 to 604 were in a blue livery for the baycar service 6 while 605 to 617 were in a red and green-based livery and branded Capital City Red for the Ely routes 17/18. The remaining two buses were numbered 618 and 619 and featured a generic two-tone green livery with cream fronts, for operation on either service as required. The new articulated bendy buses entered service from 28 May 2006.

The bendy-buses rarely strayed from these routes, but could be called upon to help out on X59 Park and Ride duties and for special events. With the ability to carry a large number of people, for a number of years a bendy bus could be seen working a few term-time journeys from Roath to Western Avenue, Llandaff on the Cardiff MET University service, as well as to Colcot Road, Barry on the 96 serving Cardiff and the Vale College.

Commencing in the summer of 2013 the entire fleet of bendy buses were given a mid-life refurbishment, which would include a full upholstery re-trim. The four baycar buses (601 to 604) emerged in a revised blue-based livery, while the remaining 15 buses received standard fleet livery with an orange front. At the start of the pandemic in 2020 four buses were put into store and two of them were eventually sold. The baycar service 6 changed over to smaller vehicles and 604 was painted into standard fleet livery. The remaining 15 bendy buses continued to work Ely routes 17 and 18.

Operation of these distinctive vehicles will finally come to an end, with the last day of operation being the 29th January 2022.  In the short-term services 17 and 18 will be operated using double deck buses that can carry up to 99 customers and around 3 or 4 pushchairs.  

Thank you to our friend Andrew Wiltshire for the article and photos.

Bus 603

Bus 608

Bus 613

Bus 619