Sunday 3rd February 2003
week commencing 11th February 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.
If you wish to be included on a
mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news please
let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org
I seem to have had to
apologise rather a lot recently for delays to the posting of the News Page.
However I am sure you will all appreciate that work comes first and to add to
this we have had weather problems and as so often happens in the winter, health
in the form of feeling off colour often happens. So last week I am sorry that I
just didn't feel up to it but now I hope we are back on track. Also the weather
has not been good for photography and I am short of current pictures for the
news page, well at least ones which I am prepared to use. So this week I have
taken the chance to scan through some archive shots from Steve Warwick and my
own collection. I hope you enjoy those. Indeed I was pleased to receive the
following from one of my readers, Graeme Wilson, espressing concern over the
absence of the weekly page. Graeme says "I am concerned by the lack of the
bus page update this week- news update was due on Monday, and it is now Thursday
evening and it's still not updated! I hope you are alright- I am sure many
other readers will be wondering where the latest update is, and whether or not
you are experiencing problems." Well here it is and I hope it will
have been worth the wait.
The weather during last week was as you will all know, quite awful and on Thursday one woke to heavy snow and an eerie quiet from outside my house, located close to the M40. The pictures below give an impression of how it was. Stories from both main operators on the M40 corridor from Oxford tell of journeys even to Heathrow taking over 4 hours and London trips taking 5 hours on that fateful morning. I spent some 30 minutes on the over bridges near Stokenchurch and to begin with nothing was moving London bound due to a jacknifed lorry on the climb from Lewknor.
This shot was taken shortly before 9am after traffic had started moving again.
The Tube (nr 39) was the only Oxford-London service I saw in over 30 minutes.
Just look at the tanker in the outside lane, Oxford bound,
when other heavies were crawling down an ice covered slope. 30.1.03
An earlier shot on the Stokenchurch over bridge, virtually nothing going towards London. 30.1.03
By yesterday, Saturday, the snow was clearing and today it has almost gone. I won't mention gritting because I don't know the answers. A lot has been said in the papers and on TV, suffice to say things were a real mess. Out of interest, I learn that yesterday the French closed Calais and no heavies were allowed out. This was because French police were concerned about weather possibilities and the French gritters had gone on strike. So maybe we are not so bad after all!!
An article of some interest in this weekend's Bucks Free Press tells of an investigation by Arriva, after a local high Wycombe man complained of their drivers using mobile phones will driving and in one case of even being on the phone whilst boarding passengers and taking fares. Arriva highlighted that it was against company rules and I am sure the ministry would take a dim view of such practice.
An item of interest in the Oxford Times was the fact that in the new Rail timetable Virgin Trains will not allow Oxford bound passengers to alight from three afternoon services from the south in order to reduce overcrowding on these services. One wonders how passengers would react on a bus service if they were not allowed to get off in similar circumstances. Shades of minimum fare services in the days of bus overcrowding in the late 40s and early 50s. One wonders what action station staff at Oxford will take when someone does try to get off. Will they force them back on or can the passenger be prosecuted?
One of my readers, Trevor Wilson, wrote enquiring the situation regarding access to London by Oxford-London coach services after the start of congestion charging on February 17th. Some discreet enquiries reveal that there is no need for coaches running on scheduled services to register as they are exempt. I hasten to add that this is not an official view but one obtained from sources who seem to know the situation. Indeed it would be quite bizarre if the very services able to reduce congestion were to be charged for entry. This it does however seem does not apply to tourist coaches visiting London, especially Theatregoers on private hires. There was some discussion on the matter in the pages of Coach & Bus Week some months ago.
Reader Graham Monk wrote following the last news page. He says "As a regular reader of your weekly bus news web site I was amazed to see a photo of me on last weeks info pages.
Mr Monk in his orange jacket at High Wycombe. I think people add to a photo Graham, so no problem.
And, so you see you never know who is around!!!!!!!
I am the guy in the
orange vest blocking the view of the coach at High Wycombe Railway Station. I
didn't notice anyone taking the photo (too busy chatting to the driver !!) You
should have asked me to move, I would have been quite happy to as I prefer not
to have people blocking my view when I take photos.
Chiltern has got engineering works affecting part of the route for most weekends for quite a while yet. On the 2 + 9 Feb it is between Bicester and Banbury/Dorridge and after that back at Wycombe on 22 + 23 Feb. There is always quite a variety of coaches in use.
Keep up the good work as yours is one of the first pages I read whenever I go on the net. "
Michael Wootten of Wootten's Coaches of Chesham writes asking a question which someone may have the answer to. He asks
Matthew Cooper wrote
regarding a Bristol FLF. He says "Just
a quick message to say there are two dates planned in February for the Bristol
FLF (JAH553D) ex Eastern Counties and now resident at Northampton, to run
regular service work. One of the days it will run on Northampton town services
and the other rural routes from Kettering."
Confirmation of the Stagecoach East Bristol FLF (JAH553D) no numbered 19953 which is in use on service work on the following Saturdays :-
Saturday 1st February Northampton town services 1 & 51 which link Duston with Ecton Brook and Blackthorn. A dayrider ticket can be purchased for travel on all town services in the Northampton Borough for use on Stagecoach and First.
Saturday 8th February Route 16 Kettering to Raunds via Thrapston. Departs From Kettering (Newland Street) at 08:40, 12:15, 14:15 and 17:45. From Raunds Square at 09:40, 13:20 and 15:20.
A 9 Explorer
ticket can be purchased and used on all Stagecoach East services. The 08:40
departure from Kettering will wait for the arrival of the X4 from Northampton
arriving at Kettering at 08:35.
Hope this may be of interest !"
Thanks for that, I am sure some of our readers will try to find time to avail themselves of the chance to ride an FLF.
Brian Matthews wrote with some information on a link. "
Thought the attached website might be of interest to the O&C community - I found it today through a link on the "Friends of King Alfred" website.
The web address is http://www.britishbus.co.uk - it is the "first free downloadable magazine for the bus, trolleybus and tram enthusiast" and the first issue has just been published - it looks good to me."
As a taster for what is in the historic section this week and further down this page I hope you like the photo. This was taken by me in Victoria Coach Station on Saturday 21st October 1989. I later videoed a trip from Oxford to London on the same coach shortly before it was withdrawn and sold in August 1992.
In those days the Oxford services left from what is now bay 1/2 and was bay 12. They have since moved to the other end on what is now bay 10.
For the national renumbering of the Stagecoach fleet, I have been speaking to Bill Potter of British Bus Publishing. This company will be producing a handbook of the full listing very shortly. A special offer has been negotiated with Bill and he is prepared to let my readers have a copy of the new handbook for a reduced price of £15.25 (£1 less than the cover price) if you call him on 01952 255669 or visit the web site mentioning the Oxford Chiltern Bus Page.
The main site address is http://www.britishbuspublishing.co.uk/index.html I am sure many of you will want to take advantage of this offer.
I look forward to your continued support with news and photos for this page. The many very positive comments make it all worth while.
Malcolm Crowe, February 3rd 2003.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
News of the local companies - 3rd February 2003
I mentioned in the last News Page the appearance of a number of coaches in all white livery with green Jetlink names. It appears that ALL coaches are to be branded white National Express from now onwards and the sub brand names, such as Jetlink, will disappear. I personally think this is sad, especially since the blue Jetlink livery was most pleasing to the eye. One hopes that some public explanation will be made as many people have become used to Jetlink on services such as the 757 and may well ignore a white National Express coach. This is especially so if they do not have proper destination displays. What do readers think?
A further sighting of a white coach is of D308 on the 727 at Heathrow. Of course that batch of DAFs do have excellent destination displays.
Arriva serving The Shires
As mentioned above in my editorial Arriva are conducting an investigation into the use of mobile phones by drivers in High Wycombe. The most worrying feature of the article is the use by a driver when collecting fares. Apart from the apparent rudeness of the driver alleged to have being doing this, I might suggest that the driver risks having the phone snatched by some chancer.
Correspondents write on a number of issues. One of about the ex Watford Olympian 5114 which appears to have joined the ranks of Arriva at Wycombe. This bus was in the workshops today and I publish a picture of the bus showing a surprising destination. As a Mancunian I am wondering if it is being prepared for a new High Wycombe-Manchester service of is the 307 being rerouted. Indeed I know many have complained about the lack of displays by buses based at Wycombe but isn't this taking things a bit too far?
Graeme Wilson writes "I
today (Saturday 25th) and I have the following things to report:
1.Olympian 5114 (G284UMJ) was in service today, on route 339.
2.5834 operated route 310 all day, while 5109 made a few appearances on route 326.
3.Olympians 5825 and 5826 were parked out of service, the former being in the workshop."
Ed Maun writes "Thoughts having read issue 17 – Arriva at Wycombe are receiving “G” registered Olympians (if 5114 is a permanent transfer in), whereas Carousel are receiving newer “H” registered Olympians – a sign of the times?
TLB 461 reports service changes are due at Aylesbury, Thame and Amersham from 16th Feb. The Amersham outstation is also to close from the same date with buses reverting to High Wycombe. The 3 Volvo B6BLEs used on LT route H18 will move to Garston to facilitate the Amersham closure.
I was in High Wycombe for a short time today and observed one of the Volvo B6’s in branded airport livery for services 74/75/76 working on service 303 (Totteridge to Desborough) which should be worked by the ex Wycombe Bus low floor Darts. It looked totally out of place. Like most of the B6’s the electronic blind was not working. It had a tatty piece of paper in the windscreen with 303 scrawled on it. I find it all rather depressing.
Steve Warwick writes "In answer to the comment by Graeme Wilson re: Scania N707 EUR (3157), it is a Hemel allocated bus not Aylesbury which would explain why it was on the 52 route
MPD 3492 has had all it's Arriva transfers removed and is in plain livery awaiting it's route 9 branding to be applied, ready for Feb 16th when all the major changes come into effect.
Work is gathering apace on all the bus stops along the 9 route from Stoke Hospital to Oxford Road putting in easy access kerbs all very well until cars park on them!.
The wretched humps at Walton Court have been removed and are going to be replaced by bus friendly ones.
Mon 27th Jan
Noted on my visit to Wycombe today Volvo B6 3126 (Heathrow) on 303 service. Also noticed one of Carousel's Olympians with a Arriva blind in it.
Tues 28th Jan
Wycombe's on loan Mercedes Vario (2171) on 303 route.
5163 - Formerly with Arriva at Wycombe before the merger of the two depots, this Olympian was at
Binders Yard a few weeks ago, though quite who owns it now is a mystery. Maybe it is still with Arriva?
City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.
Citaro 827 approaches Oxford from Headington.
Photo by Richard Griffin.
The different displays are apparent on this shot of four of the new Citaros.
Coach 1 heads towards London up Headington Hill.
Photo by Richard Griffin.
Ed Maun writes "The latest “Coach and Bus Week” magazine (No. 560 – Jan 23 ) has an advert for the sale of 6 Dennis Dart Marshall bodied vehicles. Their fleet numbers are 505/510/512/515/517/519.
Indeed the same advert appears in this week's issue and a price of £25000 is asked for each bus. They are in very good condition and probably represent a good buy.
Volvo B10BLE 809 has been outshopped after repaint and fitment of electronic blinds. 815 is presently in works for similar treatment.
It is now February and time approaches when the new coaches, Scanias with Irizar bodywork will arrive. They are to be fleet numbers 35 to 41. One wonders what their registrations will be since the "03" will be here on March 1st?
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford
Renumbering is now in full swing. If you click on the link below you will be taken to the list kindly provided by David Whitley, Marketing Manager of Stagecoach South Midlands.
This is an Excel file .xls
Brian Matthews writes "Good page - Stagecoach renumbering list very useful. Every Sc bus seen today in Witney shows renumbering - if fact one has gone a stage further and has already lost the last digit on the front display ! I think it was 3262 (32625) but will confirm if I notice it again this week
Note that your pic of Witney d/d 16519 will not load as the " /upload190103/ " is missing.
My first sighting of a Stagecoach renumbered bus.
16519 (519) on the 100 to Witney.
(Sorry about the link so hope this works now. Ed)
An unidentified Tube heads towards the city down Headington Hill.
Photo by Richard Griffin.
Neil Gow writes "524 (16524) is still at Oxford, not yet at Witney, and was running the Brookes contract on Friday. Also turned out on Friday as the fifth Brookes vehicle required for the evening peak was ex London Olympian 16144, pressed into service without fleet numbers or blinds but with Stagecoach in Oxfordshire fleetnames. It retains its London destination equipment.
Saw M.A.N. 22941 carrying its new number in full today (280103)
22942 also carrying new number, plus at least one of 27901-3, but not all done yet as 22933 still had old number 933 today. (310103)"
It now appears that all the fleet has been renumbered as it was seemingly mandatory by the end of January.
Brian Matthews writes "On 27 January all Stagecoach buses seen in service in Leamington had been renumbered."
"Are we sure that the Olympians are being rebuilt to single door at Mainline ?
I have not had any reports of Stagecoach vehicles in the Rotherham works. A
possibility is that they are being done by Transbus at nearby Anston ?
Just a thought."
Does anyone know the answer to Paul's thought?
Keith Wood writes "Most
Stagecoach Warwickshire vehicles have been re-numbered. My sightings list so far
150-157 Now 33650-33655/33763/33821
205-211 Now 20205-20211
213-216 Now 20213-20216
226/227 Now 20226/20227
239/244 Now 20809/20814
464 Now 31354
221/223-225 Now 20221/20223-20225
243/246 Now 20813/20816
247/247 Now 20823/20821
354 Noe 41054
405 Now 40505
217/219 Now 20217/20219
234 Now 20804
917-920 Now 16617-16620
922 Now 16600
929/930 Now 16029/16030
National Federation of Bus Users.
An interesting meeting was held last Friday for members of the Oxford Branch. A number of points were raised by members at the meeting which was attended by representatives of Oxford Bus, Stagecoach and Thames Travel.
Stagecoach indicated that they would be replacing single deck vehicles on the Bicester routes with double decks cascaded from London. The displaced Volvos would then find their way on to South Oxfordshire routes giving passengers a better deal all round. There had been concern about overcrowding on the Bicester services and the double decks were being drafted in to ease this congestion.
Questions were asked about Wheatley and Milton services, where in the case of Milton, passengers no longer had a through service to Oxford. County representatives explained this was due to costs and the connecting services were designed to give the best service possible within cost restraints.
Concern was expressed about the Oxford Bus route 15 where bunching was occurring and Oxford Bus assured the meeting this service was being reviewed and improved. There had been many problems with traffic congestion over the past few months, a matter over which all the companies had no control, but every effort was being made to minimise inconvenience to passengers.
The matter of bus shelters on the Cowley Road services was raised. This was outside the jurisdiction of the bus companies and County promised to look into the matter. One lady mentioned that there were only 4 shelters outbound to Blackbird Leys and 7 inbound.
In general all companies asked people to voice their concerns when a problem occurred so that matters could be addressed promptly. It was difficult when problems were raised long after an event.
In the absence of current photos by me this week, I have taken this opportunity to give you some blasts from the past. Is it really 10 years or more since these were taken.
Sometime in the early '90s COMS 229 in as delivered condition on the now 300 Park & Ride service in central Oxford.
This bus is now Arriva 5829 having been converted to single door on transfer to Wycombe Bus.
It also gained Thames Valley livery for a while.
The Citylink Metroliners were not often used on the X70 to Heathrow so this was a lucky shot
of 904 leaving Gloucester Green in the late '80s. The Oxford Tube had arrived!
The "new" Gloucester Green was emerging from the builders work when this shot of TD112 was taken
on a 290 working to London Victoria. I always thought these to be most attractive vehicles.
The coaches were Amersham based at that time.
Speaking of Amersham, this shot by Steve Warwick shows the then new BTL3 on a visit to that garage
in August 1984. These were fine coaches in their day and don't look dated even now.
Don't you just love the Leyland wheel trims?
Another Steve Warwick offering , this time of Bristol BN58 on the 397 to Cock Lane, back in July 1984.
That's nearly 20 years ago. did the hills present these little buses with any problems I wonder?
Still based at Aylesbury, these Olympians, then with Luton & District and fitted with coach seats,
worked the very long X15 from Reading to Milton Keynes. 654 is seen leaving Reading.
Photo by Steve Warwick taken in February 1990.
Having started life with GM Buses in Manchester, GNF8V was by the early '90s with South Midland.
702 is seen leaving Gloucester Green for Chipping Norton.
These were one of the few batches of Titans outside london.
I remember taking photos of Bicester garage with these inside the depot.
Ed Maun writes "The historical photo of a COMS Renown in issue 17 is of note. It carries the Oxford/South Midland version of the fleet name used in the 1970s after transfer of South Midland from Thames Valley control and up to the splitting away of South Midland as a separate company ready for NBC privatisation. Interesting question – COMS has existed since 1920 when an earlier company was renamed, and is still the legal name today – how many fleetnames have been used in that time?
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
I made my annual visit to the Saints on Saturday last to see Man U play there.
This Van Hool, 4730EL was providing a base for their Radio Station outside St Mary's Stadium.
By pure chance I came across the oldest Atlantean in Southampton working a 5 road service
alongside new bendi buses and Dennis Tridents.
1252 is a V reg example, heading back to the city from Sholing.
I welcome your photos for
inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
This is a most interesting site which I do recommend
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002