On Friday 29th May 2015, FirstGroup announce a £77.7m order had been placed for 385 new vehicles, to be delivered in late 2015 and early 2016. Initially this order did not include any Wrightbus StreetDeck double-deck busess for First Midland Red Buses Limited, but did include an order for thirteen Wrightbus StreetLite Max single-deck buses.
Before deliveries started, four Wightbus StreetDeck from a batch of nine on order to Leicester Citybus Limited (“First Leicester”) were diverted to First Midland Red Buses Limited, in exchange for four of their StreetLite Max, for use at Worcester depot on their Malvern services. Deliveries started on the morning of Friday 11th September 2015, and these became the first double-deck buses new to Worcester depot since November 1967, when the depot received five Daimler Fleetline type DD12 double-deck buses from the batch of 149 ordered by Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited (BMMO—Midland “Red” Motor Services).
In Spring 2015, First Midland Red Buses Limited had ordered a batch of thirteen Wrightbus StreetLite Max single-deck buses to used on Worcester to Malvern group of services (Service 44, 44A, 44C etc) from late 2015, but shortly after Worcestershire County Council asked for extra capacity on these routes during peak time, so an agreement was made whereby the Council would pay the extra £200,000 for four of the expected vehicles to be upgraded to double-decks. First Midland Red’s sister company, Leicester Citybus Limited (“First Leicester”), already had nine Wrightbus StreetDeck double-deck buses on order so rather than placing an additional order, four of these were exchanged before delivery.
The first two examples arrived at Worcester depot on Friday 11th September 2015, with the other two arriving after the weekend on Monday and Tuesday 14th and 15th September, and all were been placed in storage prior to being prepared for service.
From Wednesday 30th September 2015, they were all fitted with route branding for Service 44, but as they had originally been ordered for Leicester Citybus Limited (“First Leicester”) they were registered to them with the DVLA by the manufacture. There was a delay of several weeks while the paperwork was sorted out, but once this was done they could receive their VOSA pre-service safety checks and MOT, and be taxed to the correct operator. There were further delays while the local Council cut back tree along the intended routes, but finally two months after delivery these four vehicles entered service on Monday 16th November 2015.
From Wednesday 26th October 2016, First Midland Red Buses Limited operated a large Rail Replacement contract from Bromsgrove Rail Station, providing replacement buses for services to Droitwich Spa, Longbridge, or Barnt Green. The contract required double-deck buses to be used so to meet the demand five double-deck buses moved to Worcester on-loan from other depots.
Four of the vehicle on loan were Wrightbus StreetDecks from Leicester Citibus Limited (“First Leicester”), and were from the batch of twenty-five vehicles that had been new to Leicester in April 2016. The first to arrive were fleet numbers 35188, 35191, and 35192, which had previously been on loan to First Somerset & Avon Limited, Bristol, and came direct from Bristol on the morning of Saturday 22nd October 2016. These three vehicles entered service on the first day of the contract, supplemented by double-deck buses from the First Midland Red fleet that were not required during the school holiday period. On Thursday 27th October 2016 a fourth SteetDeck, fleet number 35189, arrived from Leicester and a Volvo B7TL, fleet number 37158, from First Potteries Limited, Stoke-on-Trent. Both of these entered service at Worcester on the rail contract on the following day, freeing up Worcester’s own vehicles to be used on schools when the holidays ended after the weekend.
Ticket machines were not required for the contract so all the loan vehicles ran either without a ticket machine or kept their original Potteries or Leicester machine, meaning none could be used on regular services at Worcester.