Issue 56

Tuesday 2nd December 2003

next update week ending 12th December 2003

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.

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Another new fleet of buses for service in Oxford was previewed last Friday in Abingdon when the first of eleven new Mercedes Benz Citaros was displayed in The Market Square in that town. Locals from the area were able to see the £2.5 million investment by Oxford Bus in direct services to Oxford on routes X3 and X13.

OCBP correspondent Steve Annells was on hand to record the event and the results are to be found under The Oxford Bus heading below. Abingdon will certainly have a fine service to Oxford as Stagecoach also expect six new Dart low floors for their X4 service from Oxford to Abingdon. One wonders what the passengers will think of the two types and if one will prove more appealing than the other. Only time will tell.

Steve also comments  "829 itself is very impressive.  Several members of the public remarked on the sloping gangway towards the back of the bus - although there is a step right at the back this is an improvement on the usual step arrangement.  Several also queried whether the bus is longer than the current Volvos." 

Steve also wrote regarding two other items and included a two further photos to illustrate his comments especially relating to a Birmingham shopping trip for a group from Abingdon using two new Plastows Volvo/Jonckheeres.

Steve says "The (very smart) pair are FJ53KZO and FJ53ABZ, Volvo B12M/Jonckheere.

As you say the weather was awful, but I hope to have a couple of pics of them loading in Abingdon later in the week.  We're in the process of trying to sell the house, and had two viewings Saturday.  I hope nobody turned up early, or they'll turn it down - our quiet residential road looked a bit like the site of the new Abingdon bus station!

One which might be worth putting on the next  Oxford and Chilterns Bus Page update - Alan Piatt is trying to trace what happened to a Panther Cub used by Wallingford Rotary Club. Panther Cubs were never common anywhere; the nearest in Oxfordshire I can recall is, as far as I can remember, a Panther coach used by Abingdon Coaches!  Anyway his request on the Bus Station forum is:  Does ANY one know what happened to Brighton Corporation Marshall-bodied Panther Cub number 42 (NUF 142G)? She departed from Brighton in October 1975 to Norths (Dlr.)and was last heard of in Wallingford with 'Elizabeth Coach for the Disabled' in 1983. This was the last Panther Cub built and as such should be preserved if this extant. I look forward to your replies.

During last Friday I had the chance to spend sometime around Oxford Station and Friedswide Square. That square purports to be restricted to buses and taxis but my photograph below shows just how this restriction is abused. At least three private cars are using the area as a "shortcut".

One wonders just what can be done to enforce restrictions and look how the bus service is delayed.

Michael Wadman wrote as follows "On 21st November a friend and I visited Oxford to check out the new services in the Oxford-Faringdon-Wantage triangle. As neither of us had been to Oxford for a while we arrived early to take some photographs and then made the following trip: 

10:50 Oxford – Fyfield (Windrush Travel 63)

12:05 Fyfield – Swindon (Stagecoach 66)

14:10 Swindon – Wantage (Coachman 67a)

15:45 Wantage – Abingdon via Faringdon (Heyfordian 67)

17:10 Abingdon – Oxford (White’s 30) 

Actually the White’s bus wasn’t planned, it just happened to be the next bus back to Oxford. By then of course it was the middle of the rush hour and too dark for photography, so we had a couple of pints in the Turf Tavern before catching the coach back to London. 

There were one or two other passengers on the 30 and the 66 was packed by the time it got to Swindon, but on the other three buses, all part of the new network, I’m sorry to say that we were the only passengers. 

I’m sending a few photos from the trip.

B Bell also wrote "A friend visiting Wantage a few days ago (on a school day, in order to ride the 67a double decker already featured on the web site), was amazed to see 2 double deckers working on the Abingdon to Grove Stagecoach 32 service, including the midday journey that extends to West Hannay. Dose anyone know whether these are now regular double deck operations, or whether there was just a vehicle shortage at the time? (and indeed whether they also operate on Saturdays).

Furthermore, assuming the 32 service is operated from the Harwell outstation (presumably buses park at Harwell bus station overnight ?), he was surprised to see that one of the double deckers went to Abingdon, but the return journey was a single decker. He wonders whether the buses swap in Abingdon with the service to/from Oxford ? " An interesting query and also a coincidence that I should receive correspondence so linked!!

I must say that I find details of such trips most interesting and look forward to other such accounts.

The papers this week again yielded a lot of stories and I will start first with the The Bucks Free Press. It seems that Arriva's Red Route 33 is getting the green light for a New Year relaunch. Funny it seems only very recently it was LAUNCHED but it seems that its launch last summer was followed by a spate of vandalism and graffiti. However it seems now that Arriva and the County Council are determined to emulate the success of the Red Route in Aylesbury where passenger numbers are claimed to have risen by 28per cent.  It is said that leaflets for a relaunch on January 12th have been circulated to 13000 potential users living within 500 yards of the route. It will be interesting to see what happens.

A further story relates to the future of a popular bus service under threat. Carousel's 1/401 services are facing problems wit speed calming measures in Wooburn Green would make it difficult for Carousel drivers to serve Holtspur Avenue. One awaits developments with interest.

In Oxford The Oxford Times reports that residents on Templar Road, Cutteslowe feel isolated due to a lack of bus services to the City Centre. Presently, following a subsidised tender Oxford Bus run three services per day between 1000 and 1350. There is no Saturday service. Locals do not feel they should suffer because residents in Kidlington are said not to like the "slower" service via Cutteslowe but only want a faster direct service. Indeed a senior manager at Oxford Bus said it had proved not be commercially viable to run the estate service and emphasised that Kidlington residents had indeed objected to the slower service through the estate. There could however be a possibility of running one extra service in the mid afternoon and this was being investigated.

It is always contentious when services are withdrawn and potential passengers find themselves left without an acceptable service but we live in hard commercial times and companies are no longer allowed to cross subsidise services as was the case many years ago. As such lightly used services face the axe. One can but sympathise with all modern bus companies who face difficult decisions in many cases.

When reading a recent copy of Coach & Bus Week it seems that the authorities are considering a revision to the five minute rule where buses on advertised services should run no more than 1 minute early or 4 minutes late. Certainly observers of services in and around Oxford will appreciate how difficult any such rule is to comply with. It can take 15 minutes to reach the city centre from Redbridge at busy times on the Abingdon Road.  A further problem is that there is difficulty in predicting when such delays will occur. It will be interesting to see what new rule is applied.

Well, now on to the reports for our area. Your contributions continue and I am pleased to receive them each week. My thanks to everyone who sent information.

Malcolm Crowe, 2nd December 2003.

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News of the local companies – 2nd December 2003

This Olympian, 5853, has joined the Arriva fleet at High Wycombe from Arriva London

Nigel Peach writes "Ex London Olympian 5856 has entered service, joining 5853. I see from "Buses" that 5854/5 are also due. I wonder what they are going to do about their blinds. At the moment they just show destination (they have London style blinds) without a route number.

Steve Warwick writes

Wed 26th Nov

MPD 3482 has today been transfered from Aylesbury to High Wycombe  with SLF Dart 3178 going in the opposite direction.

The reasoning behind this move escapes me I'm afraid as 3178 is route branded for Red Route 33 and 3482 has a sealed powerblind with Aylesbury's destinations in.

Fri 28th Nov

Mercedes/Plaxton mini bus 2108 (M38 WUR) has arrived at Aylesbury from Harlow as a replacemenr for Iveco 2347 crew shuttle bus.

SLF Dart 3178 (complete with Red Route 33 branding) has been on town route 2 Haydon Hill-Bedgrove.

Bucks County Council

Ed Maun writes "I have just obtained a copy of the latest Aylesbury Vale Travel Guide which contains advance notice of a new service starting in January from Fairford Leys to Aylesbury bus and rail stations using what looks like Optare Aleros from the picture displayed.   There was an Alero at the recent NEC show in BCC colours.   It will be branded Silver rider and provide a 15 minute frequency during the daytime with 30 minute frequency in the evenings."

Carousel Buses, High Wycombe

The three new Citaros were noted at Evobus in Coventry last week and are expected very shortly for use on the A40 service. The are to be




News of the week is the arrival last Wednesday evening of the first Citaro of a batch of 11 due for service on the X3/X13 group of routes.

The first, 829 X29OXF was displayed in Abingdon Market Square last Friday and the whole batch are expected to enter service shortly. Steve Annells kindly provided the photographs below.

The front end shows the revised body styling with the destination set flush to the body
unlike the earlier P&R versions.

The rear end uses the panel to good advantage for an promotional message.

The Commercial Manager of Oxford Bus welcomes potential passengers to 829.

Rob Williams sent the following observations:

Fri 21st:

634 on 5

Sat 22nd:

612 on 5   (X3/X13 branded)

Mon 24th:

631, 634 and 644 on 5,  519 on X13,  511 on 5B

Tue 25th:

32 on 4A  (This must be the first time on of the newer coaches has appeared on local service - the working sighted is a rush hour relief)

Thu 27th:

Heard a strange message over COMS radio whilst on a 5, they were asking for drivers to radio in if they saw T3, a blue minibus

517 on X13, 822 on 400, 629 on 5

Fri 28th:

639 on 5, 824 on 400

Red Citaro noted lurking in garage around 8.15am, I only caught a glimpse of a few inches of nearside rear though!  (see above)

........and further "15 - X70, 113 - 4A (with blinds set to 000 Oxford Bus Company and paper A4 blind with 4A Elms Rise on it), 403 - 400, 510 - X13 (had perfect shot of it until a tourist decided to walk in front of my lens!)

A surprise return to OBC is this Scania, formally nr 60 and once again taking fleet nr 60
now working on the X90. On its last visit it worked the X80.

407 has taken the registration formally carried by Volvo coach 7.

Ron Potter writes that Monday this week saw 120 on driving school duties with L Plates.  822 was seen at Elms Rise on 4a service (relief)  510 on x3 early then 18/2c  515 was on 13c service and 813 on 13s am and x3s pm.

First Berkshire 

Nigel Peach writes .....just a little oddity. Today (Mon 1st Dec) I saw First Berkshire's 237 X247AMO on the 74. Its side dot matrix display was flashing alternately "HIGH WYCOMBE" AND "Beconsfield". I wonder if all the First buses mis-spell the home of Disraeli and Enid Blyton?


Newman Morgan writes "Many thanks for this week's report.  Reading of the Heyfordian contract for a low-floor vehicle in Southern Oxfordshire, walking along Launton Road, Bicester on the morning of Saturday October 25th, an 03 registered Optare Solo demonstrator emerged from the direction of the Heyfordian Depot. The vehicle was painted blue and adorned with Optare Solo demonstrator logos. The rear route number box was set to '67' whilst the front displays were '67' and 'WANTAGE' with some intermediate places mentioned I believe.


Stagecoach have sent their latest attached fleet list (period 8 - November 2003) to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click here to view. (you will need to rotate one of the pages to view)

getacro.gif (712 bytes)


Gloucester Green is the setting for Tube 60 carrying a new version of the latest super rear ads.

Various comments from Oxford enthusiasts say ..."this years group order is for Dennis Trident / Alexander ALX400s. The initial allocation does give Oxford 11 of these.

Ralph Adams says "the ALX400s are better bodies than the Presidents, are these just personal likes/dislikes or are there actual reasons why a number of people seem to express these opinions? From only a small number of trips on Presidents I can't say that I've got any complaints compared to the many ALX400s I've been on. The Stagecoach standard is for ALX400s - like this years national order has been brought forward to help out Transbus fill gaps, last years order was converted from ALXs to Presidents also to help out Transbus."

Rob Williams wrote to say ... A new arrival at the depot today is Volvo B10M 20704 (K704 ERM), transferred from Stagecoach in Lancaster. It is still in stripes. I think it has arrived to allow the engineers an extra spare as they are quite short on B10Ms.

Fri 21st:

22052 did a one off BMW tour

Sat 22nd:

22930 on 10

Mon 24th:

20704 arrived at the depot from Lancaster (mistakenly via Wales), in stripes

Thu 27th:

16524 back at Oxford from loan to Witney

20704 being rubbed down ready to go for repaint before it enters service

31330 and 31331 on 10

42372 on 600

Fri 28th:

42376 on 600

Ralph Adams writes "The following should be noted. Present PVR is 11 with fleet allocation of 12 for route 100 at Witney
Route 27/28/29 was planned to be double deck with a PVR of 9 although the > double decks have mainly gone with a group shortage of high capacity buses."

Ian Kirby adds "20704  was actually delivered to the Merthyr depot of Stagecoach Wales in 9/03 and expected to enter service there - obviously there's been a change of plan somewhere."

Adrian Lancer wrote "Tube diversion into Thornhill registered as happening on 13/11/03.
Also U1,U2,U3 are quoted as route and timetable change from 27/12/03, then a timetable change from 14/01/04. (I presume these refer to different routes).  Dates are strange as 14/01/04 is the Wednesday of the first week back!"

50036 has a new Tube MegaRear applied - "for punting.

I had a short trip on one of the new Tridents last Saturday and found it very smooth and the driver commented how good they were.

18055 seen passing under the station bridge, seemingly a tight squeeze.

Whites Coaches

Another Whites Solo MF53FDK in Wantage taken by Michael Wadman..

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This is a most interesting site which I do recommend

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