Tuesday 1st October 2002
Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned, or indeed any other official body.
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.
In this week's News Page
Welcome to the first news page on the new site. When one has a good formula it is not always a good idea to change for the sake of change. Hence you will find much of the older style about this page. If you click on the small thumbnails you can see the pictures above and later full size, such small graphics do at least speed the download time. Also you can choose to view those pictures which interest you most.
The new Water Eaton Park & Ride site is now scheduled to open on December 2nd and work is now in hand to meet that deadline. Also work is taking place at Thornhill, where the site is set to almost double in size. As mentioned before a new fleet of single deck buses has been ordered by Oxford Bus for the Water Eaton site and these will bring full size Mercedes Benz buses to Oxford. The model is the Citaro, similar to those running in London.
My visit to Barcelona proved most interesting and the city is well organised for tourists with open top double deck buses offering two circluar routes covering all areas of major interest. A delightful part of the city may be explored on the northerly Red Route and a tram ride connects to the hills above Barcelona. The trams in use date from the turn of the last century and are superbly maintained.
Two trams, nr 6 and nr 8 were in use on the day I took the tram.
Barcelona also seems to be the home of the Irizar coach and the group I was with used a Mercedes 0404 version with a body very similar to the one recently trialled in Oxford on the X70 Heathrow service.
A nice surprise found in the city centre was the Bristol VR pictured below and used as a promotional vehicle for Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream. The body number was ECW 20630 which might help someone identify where this bus came from in the UK.
I took a lot of photos and the local bus fleet run by TMB used Mercedes, MAN and Ivecos. The open top fleet was of two types but I only travelled on the M A N variety. Foretunately the weather was kind but there was a system of covers to close of the top deck should it rain.
During my wanderings on Saturday I was speaking to a friend who use the buses from Bourne End to High Wycombe. They were commenting on the vaste difference in prices for the same journey on the the two local companies. It appears that Arriva, the incumbent operator charges £2.50 single and £3.75 return whereas Carousel, the newcomer. charges £1.30 single and £2.25 return. This must surely be one of the greatest fare differentials for the same things anywhere in the U.K. Indeed Carousel have put notices in their buses as seen below which speak for themselves. I suppose this is what the government wanted when they brought in competition.
Oxford Westgate shopping centre was in the news today, Monday, when I briefly heard an article on BBC Radio Oxford. The story goes that there are angry reactions today as people learn about the refusal of a £220m proposal to redevelop the Westgate shopping centre.
The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, said the proposal was not in keeping with the architecture of the city. The redevelopment plans included a new 'bus station', doubling the size of the shopping complex, and an underground car park. Many locals feel that Oxford needs a face-lift to prevent people from travelling outside the city for good shopping.
Further to the article on the
Oxfordshire Playbus I received a short email from Niz. She reminds me that Niz
is a lady Her mail says "Hi!
The bus looks good, thanks for putting it on your website. (Though should I
point out that, unlikely as it may seem, Niz is short for Hazel & I'm a she not
a he!), Regards
Oxfordshire Playbus seen here at Showbus, Duxford where it attracted quite a lot of attention.
Photo by Chris Maxfield.
NFBU Report from Ralph Adams who attended the meeting a week last Friday. He says "I went and gave your apologies and made some notes of what was said." Ralph says he is not the best note taker but his report is nonetheless informative.
"The meeting was hosted by
the County, with COMS, Stagecoach (all 3 with several representatives) and
Thames Travel (their first time). Arriva was not represented but hopes to come
in future. Both the larger companies had management trainees - obviously trying
to bring up future management from the inside who will have long term knowledge
of the bus industry.
Thames Travel are now the largest contractor for the County with the take over of the Chiltern contracts. A new route 106 is planned for the Autumn from the Station via Sandford to the Science Park. They may also be joining Plus Pass. Minor changes on the 103 for more reliable services are planned. The 103 should normally have Solos due to the road humps, they are more suitable that the Varios to cope.
Oxford Bus and Stagecoach both confirmed that staffing levels have stayed satisfactory. OBC have 6 new P&R due, requiring 15 extra drivers, the buses will be in an improved livery with more green, and the other Tridents will be modified in due course (see picture of 106 above. Ed)
The County (Dick Helling) said that with the tenders, it is possible for the operators to apply for Capital Grants to assist on modernising the buses with wheel chair accessibility. Thames Travel has used this to part fund the Solos, capital grants not used by other operators.
Many bids for the last round of tenders resulting in a downward pressure on prices, good for the County but obviously not so good for the operators. 2 late night services will not be retended (Leafield - Witney and Service 11 I believe). They are not in the public timetables, but well published in the villages. However they have poor patronage (often nil).
New minibus networks are
planned for Woodstock, Carterton and Witney, including a service to Cotswold
Wildlife Centre. Clanfield, service 18 to be hourly Service 11 changed
timings to improve reliability (no details given).
Bicester Taxibus exceeding expectations. It is averaging LESS THAN 1 PASSENGER PER JOURNEY !!
The County is under no obligation to provide timetables but are putting the requirement to operators in future tenders. It was mentioned that the commercial operator often have many timetable cases (in Woodstock) but subsidised operators have little publicity. Stagecoach said they would be willing to review other operators putting the non competing timetables in their cases (Ralph's thoughts - who changes when the timetable changes, or pays for larger display cases)
There will be a Friday Bus Surgery in Cornmarket Street on 8th November from 10.00 to 3.00. Follow up meeting end January 2003.
OBC are sending a red Trident (101) to the Labour Party Conference supporting public transport. Passengers / petitioners were welcome to travel with the bus leaving on Sunday 29th September and returning late on the 30th November. (I hope to have a report and pictures in next week's page. Ed.)
A final note of interest is the sign at the old BRS depot on the West Wycombe Road now used partially by Heyfordian. I've seen the sign numberous times but never noticed the misspelling of Chiltern!!!! Somehow appropriate for the new name of this page.
Another blast from the past!!!!
The operator news from our area follows.................
News of the local companies - 1st October 2002
Arriva serving The Shires
Arriva's Bristol VR 5049 on loan to Wycombe from Luton has appeared on various services including
326 and last Saturday on Football service 501. It is seen here beside Merc 2410 also on loan from Aylesbury.
Sorry I just couldn't resist this one, 5049 lower rear offside.
This last few weeks has seen a most surprising event in High Wycombe with the arrival of Bristol VR from Luton on loan. It has really got the local enthusiast fraternity in a buzz, especially since it is not in the best of condition and one can appreciate that the drivers are also not entirely happy with the situation.
My regular correspondent Steve Warwick reports as follows.
"Just read this weeks highly interesting news page, what a lovely wealth of information provided by our excellent readers. This internet is truly amazing.
Many thanks for the info. It has answered all my questions most admirably.
It appears that Darts 3819 and 3820 have been allocated to the 54 Halton Camp route weekdays, as Greenways are required for the 331 and 332 road. Unfortunately as you know there is no 54 number so that awful practice of tacky numbers written on paper in the windscreen is in use. ( I have been reliably informed that new sets of Aylesbury numbers are on order including new blinds with High Wycombe on)
Route branded 3205 is up for MOT so Dart 3899 is substituting on the X15 this week.
Wed 18th Sept
On my visit to Wycombe today found a Bristol VR 5049 working 326 Booker-Micklefield, unfortunately no camera with me. On loan from Luton apparently.
Thurs 19th Sept
Mercedes Easybus 0447 worked the 11.30 dep (280) to Oxford, on account most of the Volvo Olympians were stuck in Oxford and Thame due to Thame Show."
Nigel Peach, another regular writes "What
an interesting page this week. Amazing what almost a throw-away line about the
280 can bring in! It's all interesting. What incredible memories people have
On your picture of Arriva 5110 (going to Southend incidently, not Southsea) its Leyland badge is just visible. I think it's the only one of those four that still has a badge.
In the bus station today (Tues 17th) were two of the Mercs that usually run the U11. (2196 & 2198).
Merc 2410 which had moved from Cressex to Aylesbury (I think) was on 326 road today. It had standing passengers when I saw it at 2pm.
I think all the Volvo B6s seem to have problems with their blinds. They all seem to have bits of paper now!
3242 (M842 DDS) has been at the back of the bus station out of service for some weeks now.
I am still stunned at seeing a VR in service in Wycombe.
It was October 1996 when Wycombe's allocation all disappeared en masse. One
thing that puzzles me about this "new" one, 5049 (VVV 956W). In the 2002 Arriva
handbook 5049 is registered URP 949W. Is this the same vehicle re-registered. If
so, why? I'm sure some of your readers will know the answer! Ironic that it's
advertising a scrap metal business. Most of its sisters will have already found
their way to the scrapyard!
On Sunday 22nd Sept ex Cressex Olympian 5134 was running some workings on the 315. I don't remember ever seeing a double decker on this road before.
Aylesbury's black Olympian 5071 (I think) is running out of Wycombe depot at present.
Blue Olympian 5828 has at last gained its all-over advert for Swan FM.
Paul Goodwin wrote to say "a blast from the past when a VR arrived at Wycombe today, Wednesday 18 September 2002 and was pressed straight into service on the 326!!!!!!!!!. If my memory serves me right the last VR left Wycombe in 1997."
Trevor Wilson wrote further on matters in the town. He said "Sunday 22nd September 2002. - Went to see Wasps beat Saracens at Adams Park. The following were on the post-match free shuttle service to Wycombe Bus and Rail stations:
5834 G234VWL Alexander Olympian
Arriva 5135 G132YWC Northern Counties Olympian
Motts CUB540Y Metrobus
Motts E153OMD ECW Olympian
And later at the Arriva Amersham outstation:
G129YWV Northern Counties Olypmian showing route 362 and blank destination
5110 G130YWV Northern Counties Olypmian showing route 362 and blank destination
3139 L923LJO Northern Counties Volvo B6 showing route 362 and blank destination
3138 L922LJO Northern Counties Volvo B6 showing blank route and destination - I assume this has been used on the 353
3127 M727OMJ Northern Counties Volvo B6 showing blank route and destination - I assume this has been used on the 353
3145 N695EUR Scania showing blank route and destination - I assume this has been used on the 353 - I observed the rear of vehicle on Friday 20 September at 10.30 heading south in service in Gerrards Cross - a new type on this route along with the Plaxton Dart SLFs reported last week - Volvo B6s being the most common buses on the 353.
Also the shuttle bus timetable has been changed since the Wasps vs Bristol match a few week ago. Also connecting train times are now shown.
The link is http://www.wasps.co.uk/Sub_newsdisplay.ink?nid=4326 "
Chris Maxfield took this Aylesbury Dart MPD at Duxford. 3497.
Ed Maun wrote "An unusual working saw a BCC Optare Solo EasyBus working the 1100 High Wycombe to Thame service 332 on Saturday 14th September – sorry, did not get its number."
Carousel Buses, High Wycombe.
A visit to the depot last Sunday caught this group at rest.
City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.
A surprise visitor to Reading at 5pm today (Tue 24th) was Oxford Express coach 21! - photo by Rob Williams.
Does anyone know why 21 was in Reading?
Chris Maxfield sent this picture of 104 at Showbus Duxford. It evoked some compliments from visitors.
Further to notes on the Olympians on loan to Metrobus Crawley, Paul Green responded to my request for pictures of 224. He says "Have so far been unsuccessful in getting more photos of 214 & 224 but am still trying. They are usually used on Horsham school services but today (Mon 23/9/02) I was most surprised to see 224 leaving Brighton on the 1740 service 273 back to Crawley. Would have made a nice photo but never mind. Incidentally, the last time I snapped this bus was about a year ago whilst on hire to Go Ahead in the North East.
Dear old 224 really has got around. I understand it has been to Belgium and France in earlier days. I wonder if there are any photos of that visit?
Some changes took place today, Monday 30th September. There are now two "Olympian cards" on 35 road, the red Tridents are now on 15 road and 5 road will have additional low floor buses, thereby increasing the service. The X3 is once again all Volvo single door operated.
Heyfordian of Bicester
Heyfordian are re-registering the Olympians. Here 7298RU hides the identity of C265???
This registration was carried by a Leyland Tiger coach until sold. (B909RVF)
Stagecoach in South Midlands & in Oxford
Keith Wood wrote to advise
"another Volvo B10M / Alexander PS has been aquired from Wales & West. It is 248
P821 FVU. It is in new livery (freshly outshopped) and like 247 is allocated to
Rugby. It was out yesterday and today on the 86.
Rugby's B10M's are receiving Upper/Lower case electronic displays like Leamington's. 223 has been done so far.
Bus Fayre magazine has reported Leyland National 706 NOE 606R with Hardwick, Carlton (Dealer) for resale.
Just waiting for news of the last day of Leyland National working from Rugby. On my last visit only 772 was active working 8/9 Long Lawford - Hillmorton local services along with Dart 103. Volvo B10M's now dominate 86's and associated Binley Woods School services. The strength is eight again (221/223-225/243/246-248).
All three ex London Olympians are now in service. Here 528 (N338HGK) lies over at Horspath last Satruday
Newman Morgan writes regarding matters in Bicester. He says "There's an emergency timetable coming into effect on SiO's main Bicester services for a minimum of 3 weeks from Monday 23/09/02. This is due to the closure of Charbridge Lane, Bicester during this period. Charbridge Lane is being remodelled as part of the completion of the Bicester Southern ByPass.
emergency timetable provides for a different pattern of working after Bure
Place, Bicester. The 29 road from Bicester to Arncott remains unchanged but has
a few timing modifications I believe.
The 27/28 roads beyond Bure Place via Churchill Avenue, Glory Farm to Langford Village (27) or Launton (28) are curtailed at Glory Farm. Buses would normally use Charbridge Lane to get to Langford or Launton. The emergency timetable provides for 1 bus per hour on 27 to Glory Farm instead of the current two through Glory Farm.
The 28 road is re-routed after Bure Place via London Road to Langford. It then circumnavigates Peregrine Way in Langford (as on normal timetable) and then continues via Wretchwick Way and the open section of Charbridge Lane to Launton. Thus everywhere has the same level of service except Glory Farm.
This road closure will also affect the TaxiBus service to Bicester North station.
It does not affect the Grayline 22/23 roads through Langford as these go to and from Bure Place via the Bicester Fields Farm development (Mallards Way) or via London Road.
The Volvo B10Ms are still the mainstay of the Bicester services.
910 is bound for Oxford whilst 906 is headed for Glory Farm, all mentioned above.
A Saturday line up at Pickford's yard last Saturday. L to R , 937, 922 and 530 (N340HGK)
Andrew Dyer wrote following my picture of a dual door Dart. He says "Now that Stagecoach Oxford doesn't have too many of the old Thames Transit Darts in the fleet, I thought that your readers might be interested to know that there is a group of 26 of them alive and well in the Stagecoach South East fleet as follows:
Fleet No Reg
404 M74 VJO PM (Portsmouth)
405 M75 VJO AL (Aldershot)
406 M63 VJO WG (Worthing)
407 M65 VJO LS (Lewes)
408 M91 WBW LS
409 M92 WBW LS
410 M62 VJO BA (Basingstoke)
411 M61 VJO PM
412 N412 MBW AL
413 N413 MBW AL
414 N414 MBW AL
415 M93 WBW LS
416 M101WBW LS
424 M94 WBW LS
425 M95 WBW LS
426 M96 WBW WG
427 M97 WBW LS
428 M98 WBW LS
429 M102 WBW WG
439 L709 JUD BA
440 L710 JUD BA
441 L711 JUD BA
442 L712 JUD BA
443 L713 JUD BA
446 M76 VJO WI (Winchester)
447 N47 EJO WI
Fleet nos 439 - 447 are still in dual door format, all the rest have been converted to single door.
H1, H2 and H3 services in Henley are now 151, 152 and 153. Here 973 operates the service last Saturday
Oxford Bus Olympian 223 was still on loan last Saturday.
Double Win For Woottens at Showbus
Woottens have once again enjoyed success at the Showbus bus & coach rally. The company is celebrating after winning two top awards at the event.
Standing out amongst the modern coaches on show was the company’s latest high specification Volvo B12M / Jonckheere Millennium Mistral FE02FCC, which was judged Best New Millennium Coach.
Also winning top honours was Michael Wootten’s preserved Leyland National RRM148M. This vehicle was awarded the prestigious Leyland National Anniversary Award, marking the 30th anniversary of the popular model.
Winners! Leyland National RRM 148M and Volvo B12M / Jonckheere FE02FCC.
Our congratulations to Woottens are extended in the first issue of the News Page of The Oxford & Chiltern Bus Page.
Various replies from previous week's correspondence.
I have received more correspondence with regard to the 280 route, Oxford services and other operators in our area.
COMS AEC Regent with low bridge bodywork seen at the recent Duxford Showbus.
Photo by Chris Maxfield
Ed Maun wrote with reference to Issue 216 and the history of the 280 Aylesbury to Oxford service.
"I always thought that the COMS Aylesbury depot in the 1950’s/1960’s was in Walton Road; however, the PSV Circle history of COMS published in 1969 lists the Aylesbury depot as being in Walton Street and being rented from United Counties (UCOC). Was this UCOC’s original Aylesbury depot, used until the move to Cambridge Street? I have a vague picture in my mind of the COMS depot, but with all the rebuilding in the area over the ensuing years I can’t place it - all trace of it has long since gone.
In 1971 after South Midland was transferred to COMS from Thames Valley on the formation of the National Bus Company (sobering thought – this is how the current X90 came to be in COMS hands!!), COMS traded as “Oxford/South Midland”. Newman is correct in stating that COMS ran the 280 between Aylesbury and Oxford and the 260 series between Aylesbury and Thame via the villages etc, and the buses would have carried the “Oxford/South Midland” fleet name at this time. In the middle 1980’s COMS was split into 2 in readiness for privatisation. COMS retained the Oxford City services, the London express services, the Abingdon services and the trunk 280 service. A new South Midland company was formed to take over the rest of the country area services based on Aylesbury, Witney, Wantage, Bicester etc. This included the 260 series of services between Aylesbury and Thame. At privatisation both companies were purchased by their respective managements. At some point the South Midland Aylesbury depot workings ceased and Luton and District (Aylesbury Bus) took over some of the services including the 260 series. South Midland did not last long as a separate company being taken over by Thames Transit which in due course was taken over by Stagecoach. Luton and District was of course formed by the break up of UCOC in readiness for privatisation, and of course Alder Valley was split again into AV North (The old Thames Valley) and AV South (The old Aldershot and District) eventually becoming The Bee Line (The Berks Bucks Bus Company) and Alder Valley.
Looking at Newman’s list of COMS services in 1962 I am reminded that the 88 Watlington to Princes Risborough service replaced the train service between these two places which was variously known as the Chinnor Donkey or the Watlington Donkey depending on where you lived!
Reference Neil’s listing of COMS services, the 5 between Oxford and Reading was joint with Thames Valley before Alder Valley was created. Incidentally, due to route restrictions only single deckers could be used on the 5 which lead to Thames Valley investing in 3 early model Bristol RELL6G single deckers (36 feet long) in 1964 to maximise capacity. These were numbered S306 – 308 (CBL 355 – 357B). These were renumbered 185 – 187 under the 1969 renumbering scheme.
Issue 216 was very interesting – I look forward to Newman “starting on Thames Valley” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Newman Morgan wrote with more thoughts "I
have been having a good read of my 1962 COMS timetable. It seems that when it
came to jointly operated services, a number of these had different route numbers
depending on operator.
Oxford-Wallingford-Reading, jointly worked with Thames Valley, was TVT's Route 5 and COMS Route 34.
Abingdon-Wallingford-Reading was TVT's Route 50 and COMS Route 40.
Oxford-Faringdon-Swindon, jointly worked with Bristol Omnibus Co, was BOC's Route 74 and COMS Route 66.
Oxford-Buckingham-Bedford was COMS Route 70 and United Counties 131.
Oxford-Abingdon-Harwell-Newbury was COMS Route 12 and Thames Valley 112.
Yet the Oxford-Stratford Route, jointly worked with Stratford Blue as a subsidiary of Midland Red, was both companies Route 44.
It is interesting that COMS and Midland Red (Stratford Blue) were both British Electric Traction (BET) companies whilst all the other joint operators were Tilling companies.
Paul Green also added his comments saying "I also would like to add just a few additional pieces of info to last weeks coverage of services 260/280.
1) In the seventies, United Counties' Aylesbury depot sometimes used spare COMS buses on its own conductor operated services. My last record is of a KFC-G Fleetline on the Halton Camp service one Saturday morning in 1980.
2) Along with the other country depots (except Great Milton), the three bus Aylesbury allocation passed to South Midland. With the split-up of the N.B.C., relations between S.M. and Luton & District (the succesor to U.C. in Aylesbury) changed and from deregulation, the three buses (usually Bristol VRs 466, 467 and 468) transferred to Bicester depot and positioning journies were added as service 261 or 281 between Bicester, Thame & Aylesbury. The 262 was also retained by S.M. at this time. It was later decided that the Aylesbury operations were not viable on this basis and at some point they passed to L. & D.. My earliest photo of an L & D bus on the Thame service dates from April, 1990 and is enclosed here.
3) In 1987/1988, the joint 505 service operated briefly between Luton Airport, Aylesbury, Bicester and Oxford but never acheived significant loadings. Wheras COMS often used an X70 allocation Tiger, L & D settled for the mediocre, although Aylesbury's Leyland National 533 was equipped with a set of coach seats for this service.
Hope this is of interest, Paul Green."
Andrew Dyer wrote re COMS. He says "Newman Morgan's info from his 1962 COMS timetable got me thinking about the mid-60's when I started travelling in from Bletchingdon to Oxford every day to school. routes in the area at the time a I remember were
93 Oxford - Kidlington Station
93A/B Oxford - Kidlington (Evans Lane)
94 Oxford - Deddington - Banbury
95 Oxford - Bletchingdon - Heyfords - Brackley
96 Oxford - Bicester - Buckingham
97 Oxford - Bicester direct (with some peak hour non-stop journeys as 97E)
70 Oxford - Bicester - Bedford (joint with United Counties 131)
Timetables were, I'm sure, different on Wednesday (market day) and Thursday (early closing)
In 1968ish following closure of the railway a new route 71 started,Oxford-Bicester-Bletchley (no Milton Keynes then!!) A new AEC Swift 630 (GJO 630F) was allocated and a school friend of mine from Marsh Gibbon was on it when it caught fire on the first day in service!!
Other vehicles I remember on regular Bicester depot allocation were:
SFC 433/434 soon replaced by 353/4 CFC 353/354C
196/9 196/199 KFC
980 980 HFC (part of a batch later swapped for rubbish Atlanteans from South Wales Transport if I remember right)
306 306 MFC
319 319 NJO
741 WJO 741
756 756 KFC
On the subject of 82 (the 280's predecessor) I thought a lot of it was worked from Thame depot. I can certainly remember crew changes there when en-route to visit relatives in Aylesbury.
Thanks to all of you for these most interesting notes. They certainly add to the page.
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