Alas, after much anticipation the new bus arrived just five days before the Government announcements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus meant we had to cancel all shopping and leisure trips until further notice.
Early in 2019 the FISH Trustees approved the purchase of a new minibus to replace the then current vehicle. Many local residents in Sonning Common and the surrounding villages and hamlets will be familiar with the blue bus which the FISH Volunteer Centre has been operating since 2013 running regular door-to-door shopping journeys to Henley and Reading as well as social trips to a variety of leisure venues.
After six years good service, with an average of 1650 passenger journeys each year and with some 44,000 miles on the clock the Trustees decided it was time for a successor. That total number of miles may not sound a lot for a modern engine, but the FISH Bus does strenuous work with many relatively short journeys, with many starts and stops. Maintenance bills were also on the increase and to make the most of any resale value this seemed an appropriate time to seek a replacement.
The new bus is a Mercedes Sprinter conversion with the same carrying capacity of 16 passengers, a low step entry and an accessible lift at the rear. It does also have a number of enhanced features such as improved saloon heating and upgraded suspension to give a more comfortable ride.
But there is change of body colour – metallic silver instead of blue. So do keep an eye out for it when we are finally able to bring it back in full operation – which hopefully will be soon.