The B20s from Park Royal began to arrive in January and entered service at Bexleyheath in March. To reduce noise, the O.690 turbocharged engine had been specially developed by Leyland. It had the same block as the O.680, but the inlet and exhaust manifolds were different (due to the turbo), which resulted in modified cylinder heads being used. A Friedmann and Maier in-line fuel pump was fitted in place of the O.680�s DPA rotary pump. A redesigned radiator was placed higher up above the gearbox, at an angle, with a hydraulically driven fan above it. The fan drew air in from an angled vent (known as a chimney) on the offside of the bus, and this air was blown down across the radiator and released through the nearside chimney. The framework for this new back end resulted in the B20s being about 2�" longer. The downstairs rear window was smaller due to the chimneys, so a wide-angle lens was fitted to improve rearward visibility. The engine noise (which was already quieter than an O.680) was subdued further by the loud whine of the fan, somewhat akin to an air raid siren! In the nearside chimney was the reservoir tank for the power assisted steering oil, below which was a drip tray. As the filler was high up and the sight glass often became dirty, it was easy to overfill the tank. When the drip tray became full it would spill oil onto the exhaust manifold, causing a fire risk. A drain pipe was later fitted to prevent engine fires. The B20s were, initially, more unreliable than their predecessors, one story being that some of the earlier buses were delivered without air filters, but I don't know how true this is.
The seven year Certificates of Fitness (CoFs) of the first DMSs began to run out during the year. The overhaul cycle was falling behind schedule, so some were delicensed or used as trainers during the autumn. DMS 1 emerged from overhaul in March in all red livery with yellow entrance doors. The white top livery was not to be extended to overhauls or re-paints due to higher costs. The illuminated No Entry sign by the exit doors on the first 117 DMSs was removed on overhaul and the front upstairs windows were replaced by the newer pull in type. DMS 118, of the next batch, left overhaul in October, when overhauls of the class began to pick up. London Transport announced, during the year, that the gearboxes on the Fleetlines were becoming more reliable, now lasting about 15 months, compared to 6 weeks when the problem first occurred.
DMSs 2161, 2162 and 2170 were fitted with Clayton Dewandre hydraulic brakes, similar to DMS 1332, at Chiswick in January. They all entered service at Cricklewood in February. The first DMS omo conversion of the year was that of route 75 on the 26th of February. The first B20s entered service at Bexleyheath on the 11th of March, with most B20s used to replace existing DMS/DMs, one garage at a time. The use of doored crew buses on busy routes was causing excessive boarding delays, so some changes occured on the 19th of March. The 29 lost its DMs and became RM operated once again. The 123 went from joint RM and DM to omo DMS and the 141 went from RM to DM. At the same time Victoria lost its allocation on route 10, routes 284 and W1 were withdrawn and night route N96 was converted to omo DMS.
The 137A operated only on Easter Sunday, this year with DMSs from Battersea garage as Victoria had just lost its DMSs . Also on Easter Sunday L.T. started its celebrations to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee. 25 silver painted Routemasters (SRM), an RML, an OM, an RT and newly delivered DMS 2220 travelled from the West End to join the Easter Parade at Battersea Park. On the 5th of May route 51 was converted from RM to DMS and new DMS route 269 was started at Bexleyheath. Enfield became the next B20 garage on the 9th of May. DMS 2224 was converted to hydraulic brakes in May. It was later loaned to South Yorkshire PTE, between the 8th of June and the 15th of July. Merton used new DMSs, two of which were B20s, on the 1st of June for the service to the Epsom Derby. On the 20th of June the 238 lost its Swifts on Mondays to Saturdays, now becoming a daily DMS route. The following day the 162 lost its Swifts in favour of DMSs.
The Multi-Ride experiment was extended on the 17th of July. The buses concerned had ticket cancelling machines on either side of the entrance. When the pre-paid ticket strip was inserted, the ticket cancelling machine would remove a small portion. Routes C1, C2, C3 and C4 offered 10 rides for �2 (a saving of 50p) and route M1, as well as single deck routes P1, P2, P3 and P4, offered 8 rides for 50p (a saving of 30p). More omo conversions occurred on the 23rd of July, with routes 139 and 148 going over to DMS. During July DMS 2227 had new, larger adverts applied to its sides. They took up the whole length of the bus, with the offside one covering the staircase panel to form a 'T� shape. Because of this the roundels had to be repositioned The offside one went onto the panel behind the drivers window, while the nearside one went onto the panel between the front wheelarch and the exit doors. 49 more DMSs/DMs were prepared for these adverts at the end of the year.
From the 16th of August, Shepherds Bush began to replace its early DMSs with MCW B20s. Changes in the Enfield area on the 20th of August saw the replacement of RTs on routes 217 and 217B with DMSs, but space problems at Enfield meant that DMS route 191 was transferred to Edmonton. At the same time certain journeys on the 107 were renumbered 107A. Palmers Green got its first DMSs, most of which were B20s, on the 10th of September for routes 34 and 212. Walthamstow had its allocation on route 34 converted to DMS at the same time. On the 1st of October a start was made to replace the RTs at Southall. Monday to Saturday route 274 and the Sunday allocation of route 120 were converted to DMS. The following day the Multi-Ride experiment was extended to the S1, S2 and single deck S3, but the ticket cancelling equipment was slightly different in that it electronically cancelled the ticket instead of removing part of it. During October DMSs 854 and 2488 were sent to Chalk Farm, without afc cabinets, to operate as crew buses on route 24. It was to see if boarding times on DM vehicles could be improved if the front nearside bench seat was removed. Nothing came of the experiment. DMS 854, the prototype B20, saw very little service. In fact, it�s doubtful if it did enter service at Chalk Farm. Also during October, DMS 2478, with a wrap round advert for Air India and a silver relief band (to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee), entered service on the Round London Sightseeing Tour from Stockwell.
Brixton began to receive MCW B20s from the 21st of November. Merton lost its Swifts on the 13th of November with the conversion of routes 57 and 200, the 57 already being DMS on Saturdays. The last DMS conversion of the year was that of the Monday to Saturday allocation of route 125 on the 3rd of December, the route being another one already DMS operated on Sundays. The last garage to receive B20s during the year was Cricklewood, which got DMSs and DMs from the 15th of December.
The year was dominated by "Bus Plan'78" which took place in two stages, on the 22nd of April and the 28th of October. The spares shortage got worse again and L.T. started to buy back Routemasters from London Country.
Wandsworth started to receive B20 DMSs from the 19th of January, while the conversions started on the 28th of January. Catford lost its single deckers with the conversion to DMS of routes 160 and 160A. Two routes operated by DMSs on Sundays only were fully converted at the same time, the 120 losing RTs and the 228 losing RMs. The gradual conversion of Brixton's allocation on route 109 from RM to DM started on the 1st of February and was completed on the 3rd of March. On the 26th of February Multi-Ride was introduced to the Havering area using graduated fares and involving all routes, including crew operated services. The fares went up in multiples of 10p, up to a maximum of 40p. A ticket of 10 units cost 50p, each unit being worth 10p, thus giving a saving of 50%. So if a 20p fare was needed, 2 units would have to be cancelled. The scheme was such a success, with 75% of passengers using it, that revenue was lost. However, after six months, boarding times were still not quick enough to introduce fleet wide omo.
Route 270 was converted from BL to DMS of the 9th of April, even though the conversion to BL had only happened in January. The 22nd of April was stage 1 of Bus Plan '78 and saw the following type changes occur. Routes 54, 89, 151, 192 and 261 were converted to omo with DMSs, the 54 already being DMS on Sundays. Route 160A was replaced by the introduction of route 160 on Sundays. The allocation on route 173 was transferred from Upton Park to Poplar and route 291 was withdrawn. Route 212 was withdrawn and it was proposed to withdraw route 213, but in the end a small Norbiton allocation was retained. The West Ham allocation on route 262 was converted from RM to DM. Leyton continued to use RMLs on Saturdays but lost its Sunday DMS allocation. On the 30th of April the 101 was converted from Routemasters to DMs.
Route 233A was withdrawn and replaced by the 233 on the 6th of May. The last RT operated night routes, the N95 and N98 at Barking, were converted to crew operated DMS on the 26th of May. The special service to Epsom racecourse for Derby day was operated by DMSs from, or loaned to, Merton on the 7th of June. Also during June, DMS 1449 entered Aldenham as a pilot for the MCW overhauls. There were very few conversions in between stages 1 and 2 of Bus Plan '78. The 244 was converted to DMS on the 16th of June and Thornton Heath lost its Routemasters on the 27th of August, when they were replaced by DMs on routes 109 and the Sunday only allocation of route 130. The last Londoner, DM 2646, was delivered on the 23rd of August. DMS 1248 was burnt out on the 17th of August and became the first of the class to be withdrawn.
The more extensive stage 2 of Bus Plan'78 was introduced on the 28th of October, one of its objectives being to abandon Sunday variations on routes. So the 39A, 57A, 59, 130A and 245A were withdrawn. Other routes withdrawn were the 17, 197A, 213 (postponed from stage 1) and C2. The Sunday Muswell Hill allocation on route 102 was converted to DM for the second time. The early morning journeys on route 109 were converted from DMS to DM, bringing them into line with the main service. The Thornton Heath allocation on route 130 was withdrawn, while the Croydon allocation became DM daily. The 130B was introduced on Saturdays with DMs and Sundays with DMSs. Thornton Heath lost its allocation on route 154, but gained one on the 194B in place of Elmers End. The DMS allocation on route 143 was transferred from Hendon to Holloway. Stamford Hill stopped using DMs on route 253 on Sundays, the 279A lost its DMSs in favour of RMs and new DM route 283 was introduced.
The last type conversion of the year was that of route 226 from SMS to DMS on the 12th of November. New Titans entered service at Hornchurch from the 4th of December. It was a phased conversion of all the DMSs routes, namely the 165, 246 and 252, but wasn�t completed until the 25th of October 1979.
1979 was to be a turning point for the DMS. Withdrawals of the class began, when the derelict hulks that had been cannibalized to keep others on the road were sold for scrap. Overhauls continued, but on a reduced scale, to allow Routemaster overhauls to be increased. Un-overhauled DMSs were withdrawn when the initial seven year Certificate of Fitness (CoF) ran out, the better ones being sold as 'runners'. Though most were taken by the dealer Ensign, a few went direct to other operators. The rest went for scrap, either to Wombwell Diesels or to Ensign, where they were used for spares. It was decided to only overhaul the best Park Royal examples, so the early MCW bodied DMSs suffered the most, with DMS 1248-1331 & 1333-1374 (as well as others) being sold during the year, which meant the end of the JGU-K registered batch. DMS 1332 was withdrawn, but was transferred to the experimental department at Chiswick Works the following year. The MCW DMSs on the flat fare routes at Croydon began to be withdrawn during the year, with the ticket cancelling equipment transferred to overhauled Park Royal examples. Another notable event during the year was the abandonment of the split-entrance, afc, method of fare collection. This was to allow greater flexibility between the DMS and DM classes. The 'superside' and 'T shaped' adverts, as tried on DMS 2227, became widespread during the year.
1979 was also the 150th anniversary of 'Omnibuses' in London, George Shillibeer having commenced operation of a horse drawn Omnibus in 1829. To celebrate this event, 14 buses were painted into a livery similar to that carried by the original Shillibeer omnibus of dark green, yellow window surrounds, red relief, with the fleet name �OMNIBUS� also applied. The buses chosen were 12 RMs, an RCL and DM 2646 (which had a less elaborate livery than the Routemasters). The DM was sponsored by British Leyland and advertised the Leyland Titan and Leyland National, two types of bus that were already replacing DMSs. The 'Omnibuses' were launched at the Guildhall on the 2nd of March, and entered service on the following day. Each bus was to work at three garages during the course of the year, and DM 2646 worked from Cricklewood, Muswell Hill and Brixton.
The first DMS sold was DMS 251 on the 26th of February to Wombwell Diesels for scrap. It should be remembered that RTs were still running on route 62 at the time - the last day of RT operation being the 7th of April. The first DM sold was DM 1757, but this was due to it being de-roofed on the 14th of August. B20 DMS 2433 suffered an engine fire on the 14th of May and was seriously damaged. It was not destined to return to service, ending up sold for scrap in 1983.
The first route changes of the year to affect the DMS came on the 19th of March, when Fulwell had enough new Metrobuses (M) to convert route 270. Route 285 was partially converted to M and was fully converted by the 12th of April. Most conversions involving new buses were spread out over a numbers of weeks, or even months. Stage 3 of "Bus Plan '78" came into effect on the 31st of March, the most interesting conversion being that of route 106 from DMS to RM. This was also the first time that an omo route had been directly converted back to crew. Hackney became the first garage to lose its DMSs and Tottenham gained a Sunday allocation on route 67. Stockwell lost route 181 to Merton but gained an allocation on route 44, with route 181A being withdrawn. Route 164 was converted from RM to DMS. This was the only omo conversion of the year and had been postponed from stage 2 of Bus Plan. Two routes lost their suffix letters, the 224B becoming the 224 and the 232A becoming the 232. New DMS route 296 was introduced but, thanks to an almost complete lack of passengers, only lasted until September.
The replacement of DMSs at Fulwell with new Metros continued in April, with the 90B being converted between the 12th of April and the 25th of May. Fulwell's Sunday allocation on route 281 was converted on the 13th of April. Chalk Farm swapped its DMs with Stonebridge's RMLs on the 22nd of April. This meant that the 24 and Chalk Farm's Sunday allocation on route 3 reverted to RML, while the 18 and Stonebridge's Sunday allocation on route 266 were converted to DM. On the same day, Holloway stopped using DMs on its Sunday allocation on route 253, the route now being scheduled for Routemaster only operation. Mention should be made that RMs could cover for DMs, and vice versa, if the need arose.
Alperton wanted to use doored buses on its Sunday allocation on route 18 to bring it into line with the Stonebridge allocation, so from the 13th of May it started to use crew operated DMSs. Problems with the B20 fleet at Bexleyheath meant that SMs were used on route 132 from the 23rd of May, but the route was back to full DMS operation by the 1st of September. Leyland Nationals were used to replace DMSs on the 25th of May, with routes 173 and 244 being converted. This day also saw the start of the conversion to M of Fulwell's allocation on route 267. Completed on the 16th of June, this meant the end of DMSs at Fulwell. On the 27th of March route 273 was converted from SMS to DMS on Sundays only.
From the 15th of May some of the DMSs made spare by Titan replacement at Hornchurch were modified to allow them to be used on crew routes. All references to self service, driver service or pay as you enter were removed. Over the Spring Bank holiday (27th of May) the afc equipment was taken out of use, but the cabinets remained in place. By the end of the year, Cricklewood�s DM 2577, followed by two others, had been modified to allow it to be used as either a crew or omo vehicle. Later conversions were reclassified D.
Merton used DMSs on the 6th of June on the special service for the Derby at Epsom, as usual. The journeys on route 107 that had been renumbered 107A were renumbered 107 again on the 30th of June. London Transport held a rally at Hyde Park on the 8th of July in connection with the Shillibeer celebrations, with DMS 338 and DM 2646 in attendance. Norbiton was the next garage to receive new Metros, with route 213A started on the 16th of July. New buses were allocated by garage, not by route, so Sutton's allocation on the 213A was to remain DMS operated. On the 29th of July the conversion of the Norbiton allocation of the 213A was completed, thus allowing the Sunday allocation on route 285 to be converted, and a start made on route 131. The DMS to M conversion at Norbiton was completed on the 27th of September. Another conversion, on the 29th of July, was that of route 195 from SMS to DMS on Sunday only, but this was to be a short lived conversion, as Southall was the next garage to get Metros. Southall's DMSs were replaced by Metros between the 17th of September and the 19th of December. The routes involved were the 92, 120, 195 (Sunday only), 232, 273 (Sunday only), 274 and 282. The 29th of September was the last day of operation of route 296. This must have been an unlucky number, as the previous use of the number at Wandsworth had not lasted very long either. The following day, route 61 at Bromley was converted from DMS to LS.
Route 262 was re-converted to RM on Mondays to Saturdays on the 14th of October, having only been converted to DM in April '78, but it remained DMS operated on Sundays. Bromley lost its remaining DMSs when routes 126 and 138 were converted to LS on the 21st of October. Deliveries of Titans were slower than that of Metros, which meant that even though Hornchurch had started to receive Titans at the end of 1978, the conversion wasn�t completed until the 25th of October 1979. On the 28th of October route 101 was converted to Routemaster, after only 18 months of DM operation.
The Sunday allocation on route 80 and Sunday only route 80A were converted from BL to DMS on the 4th of November. The following day North Street started to receive new Titans for routes 66, 66B, 103, 139, 175 (Sunday only), 247A and 294. During November four routes were converted from DMS to SMS, a move necessitated by the large number DMSs which had expired Certificates of Fitness. Because there was a surplus of SMSs with current CoFs, they took over on routes 224 on the 10th, the 84 and 299 on the 17th, and the 42 on the 24th.
Route 239 at Holloway was converted from DMS to LS on the 3rd of December. Turnham Green lost its DMSs when new Metros replaced them on Night route N97 on the 18th of December, while the following day saw routes 91 and Turnham Green's allocation on the 267 converted.