Issue 6

Monday 4th November 2002

next update week commencing 10th November 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.

This week has seen a number of you writing to me regarding download problems which on investigation seem to be linked with the large number of photographs now being posted each week. I have given this some thought and for this week's page I have used thumbnails which you can click on to see the full sized picture. Let me know what you think.

Paul Dudfield wrote "Thanks for your continuing great work in producing the Oxford & Chiltern bus page. The amount of news coming through each week is most impressive.

Unfortunately I am having increasing trouble loading it. Even this early in the morning (Sat 0800) I have been unable to load the whole page. Whilst the long distance picture of the coach speeding through the Chiltern countryside is a work of art, I would like to see the others!

I don't know if the problem lies with my computer or if it is just the sheer size of the document. Has anyone else reported similar problems?

I am reluctant to suggest solutions that will cause you more work as the amount of time you already devote to the page must be considerable and I would far rather have a slow page than none at all.

Attached to this email (I hope) will be a picture of COMS coach 17, an Alexander bodied AEC Reliance acquired from Hebble. The picture was taken in Witney in about 1973. In hope it will be of interest for one of your end pictures. If you do publish it, could you put a request with it. Can any readers post a picture of this coach in this livery with the door closed?

Keep up the good work"

Thanks to Paul for that comment and the picture posted below. As mentioned above I am trying thumbnails this week and hope the page downloads more quickly?

COMS coach 17, an Alexander bodied AEC Reliance acquired from Hebble

During last week I happened to have a few moments to spare at Hatton Cross and rather liked the snap taken below of a Virgin A340 landing on 27 left over Hatton Cross Bus Station. This location is ideal for enthusiasts and could also be termed "Dart City" since on the bus front everything that moves is seemingly a Dennis Dart.

Darts prevail on the ground at Hatton Cross.

One of the Tellings Golden Miller Darts used on route 490.
The livery is worthy of note

One matter which has occupied my thoughts more recently has been that of cyclists and their use of the roads, especially in Oxford. Whilst I must acknowledge that all road users have rights I must comment on the increasing problem of visibility when it comes to cyclists. It seems that such road users are in many cases very unaware of the difficulty for motorists to see them in poor lighting and inclement weather conditions. It is especially the case when driving a large vehicle such as a bus or coach. Apart from the acknowledged fact that so many cyclists, notably in Oxford, fail to have any form of lights, now that the nights are drawing in, it becomes very difficult to see bikes in ones rear view mirror and I think that the authorities need to increase awareness of the dangers incurred. I wonder if it isn't time that a law is made that high visibility clothing is mandatory for all cyclists. A gentleman on a bike recently became very agitated when he was "squeezed" out by a bus. When he challenged the driver, he seemed surprised to be replied to "and do you have any lights on?". This was at dusk and additionally he was wearing all grey clothing including his helmet.  His response to the bus driver in question was abusive as he rode off into the distance. I wonder what others think of this matter, especially cyclists who are those most at risk.

On a related subject I find so many car drivers tend to ignore the basic rules of the road, stopping in dangerous places, driving with a lack of indication of their intentions and ignoring the common courtesies more usual in days gone by. Indeed when it comes to Oxford, many car drivers seem totally oblivious to the mandatory street signs. The bus/taxi only area near the Rail Station, Old Greyfriars St, High Street and the continuation of Abingdon Road towards St Aldates are all points in question. It seems that the "bus gate" in High Street is shortly to provide cameras with powers of record for prosecution which should deter erring motorists but one waits to see the actual outcome. However whilst these are particular "pet hates" of mine I suppose in the year 2002 we should accept a more tolerant attitude of "live and let live" or should we?

Brian Matthews sent a couple oif interesting photos this week, which whilst somewhat outside our area have a related interest since Black & White Motorways were a regular feature on the Oxford Bus scene and were of course headquartered in Cheltenham.

Brian says "Attached picture of the remains of Cheltenham Coach Station, taken this week, together with a view of the original site, believed taken around 1951.   Shows the cafe and concourse area which adjoined the "Black & White Motorways" Coach Station in Cheltenham, with the canopy which covered the coach departure bays just showing at the left of the picture. The floor tiling was present internally throughout the building, sadly now demolished, and the site is now a car park, but it does see the occasional coach parked there.  I'm still trying to get a picture of a coach actually parked on the tiles ! N.B.   The "Cafe" picture should be acknowledged to 'The Black & White Motorways' website. A good site for company history etc. - COMS gets a mention. 

With acknowledgement to the Black & White Motorways web site 

The present state of the old site with the tiled floor of the cafe mentioned by Brian Matthews.
Thanks him for the above photo.

The free bus service provided by Sainsbury's in High Wycombe is now operated by an ex London Country Leyland Atlantean. This bus is owned by Martyn and operated very often on the Friday only service for Abbey Coaches of High Wycombe.

AN262 KPJ262W between runs on the Sainsbury's Freebus

On a matter of relevance regarding copyright I append a note received from Steve Hayes of Oxfordshire County Council. Steve says "The staff of the Public transport department at Oxfordshire County Council enjoy looking at your Oxford/Chiltern Bus page each week and have noticed that you occasionally copy material direct from our  website on to your own.

We certainly don't mind you doing this and in fact encourage it, obviously the whole point of the internet is to disseminate information, however we would appreciate it if, in the future, you would credit the source of any information that you copy from our website to Oxfordshire County Council."

May I say first of all an apology for not giving suitable acknowledgement and a note to my contributors that if you send me information which comes from a source such as that mentioned above, could you include that in your contribution so that I may give due acknowledgement in the future. Indeed I hope that more official bodies whose staff read this page may formally contribute for future editions.

Whilst driving to my office in Staines last week I caught up with BBC Radio Oxford and heard some comments on changes to bus services in Oxfordshire. Vic Gackowski wrote on the same matter saying "Just to update you further from your notes this morning, on the Bill Heine program later on Radio Oxford (1230) a person from Eynsham rang in stating he  and some of  his fellow villagers had no idea new timetables were in force involving the rerouting of the SiO 11 in the village. He wanted to know why SiO appear not to carry out an advertising  campaign to highlight changes.

Bill promised to try and ring SiO but I was unable to listen to the whole show so I don't know if he did?

Does anyone know the outcome. I do realise how difficult it is to ensure everyone knows the changes to services by any operator but I also heard some hot comments on this subject from other sources. I am sure the "National Federation of Bus Users" must have strong views on such matters.

I note that Oxford has been short listed for "European Capital of Culture" in 2008. This will doubtless produce some improvements in this lovely city. One can only hope that the city fathers make much needed improvements to our bus and coach station at Gloucester Green. Apart from the problems with the surface, I do hope that something may be done to the public conveniences which are far from cultural as are the waiting facilities. Indeed I am sure if those facilities were improved people would not mind paying for them - i.e. superloos - as happens at Victoria Coach Station. The closure of these facilities after a certain time in the evening does not help the situation when there are 24 hour coach departures. Many visitors arrive by public transport and the lack of any waiting facilities are very obvious. Also the present site in now proving inadequate for the amount of traffic using the station. One only has to spend a few moments at peak times to see the congestion with coaches, buses, taxis and some cars all trying to get in and out of Gloucester Green. The forthcoming move of the tourist office to Broad Street will also leave a lack of information sources at this important location.

I look forward to your continued support and contribution and welcome your comments.

Malcolm Crowe, November 4th 2002.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

The operator news from our area follows.................

News of the local companies - 4th November 2002

Arriva serving The Shires

High Wycombe depot continues to run a number of buses without proper destination displays as does Aylesbury on a less frequent basis. The Wycombe based Volvo B6s mostly seem to lack equipment and the use of paper route number displays is less than acceptable especially on dark winter's nights.

The use of route allocated buses on other than intended routes also happens and below the use a U9 allocated Mercedes Vario on the 303 happened last Friday. Several of you wrote to note this event and I was also able to secure a photo. Nigel Peach writes "One unusual working Tues 30th Oct was "route H18 branded" Volvo B6 on route 326.  SLF Dart 3826 is back in service. Another unusual working today (1st November): U9 Branded Merc Vario 2198 on route 303.


U9 Branded Merc Vario 2198 on route 303.

Scania 3146 working the 326 out of Wycombe.

Lynx 3067 has also been refurbished and out shopped as a trainer.
It is seen at Wycombe where it has been working.

5831 is seen here working a 362 service through Amersham last Friday.

Matt Wheeler writes "Couple of bits of info based on your last page update....  Firstly, the query one reader had about route 262 being seen in Oxford. What I believe happens is the 4.05pm 262 to Worminghall, on arrival, then runs dead to Oxford to take up the 17:40 (?) 261 to Aylesbury."

"Another note... the two ex-Wycombe Wright bodied Darts appear to have had new number blinds fitted as I've seen at least on on both routes 54 and route 2 showing the correct number. They also intermittently show correct destinations, but mainly show blank yellow. Also last week one day one of the Marshall bodied darts appeared having been on route 16 (Waddesdon)."

Steve Warwick writes "In response to Ed Maun's question re 3048 on 262, it was on it's way dead from Worminghall to Oxford Station and the driver omitted to show 'Not in Service'.  It leaves Aylesbury Grange Coach park at 1555 and runs to Worminghall (schooldays only) . There is no Worminghall on the blind so I expect the driver showed Thame instead and didn't change it when he got to Worminghall. It then goes dead from Worminghall to Oxford Station to operate the 1745, 261 departure to Aylesbury."

Nigel Peach writes further "Very interesting page again this week. Fascinating to read about your travels & see the different photos. I'd wondered why Wycombe had received Olympian 5106. So it's to replace 5832. I noticed on your photos of sisters
5104 & 5105 this week that one has conventional blind & one electronic (like 5106). I wonder how long it will be before 5106's blinds work!

Only thing I've noted recently is that SLF Dart 3827 now has an offside advert covering part of the windows. Didn't see it closely enough to see what it is an advert for - maybe one for your camera. "

Neil Gow wrote about the route 61 Luton-Aylesbury service saying "correct, was transferred from wholly AY to wholly LD when AY took over some Wycombe routes.  According to PSV Circle Dennis Lance SLF/Wrights 3376-8 were transferred from Essex to Luton supposedly for his service.  Has anyone seen them on the route ? - Olympians and Scanias seem more common."

Finally Steve Warwick says "
Wed 30th Oct -  NBS Olympian 5829 made an appearance in Aylesbury Bus Station this afternoon on the 61 service from Luton. Don't know if it's been transferred there or what, it had been at Luton for repair."

Carousel, High Wycombe

A note from Carousel advises that they expect to be operating the 185 Lewisham-Victoria service until next May - 2003!

They also plan to put dot matrix blinds in the two ex West Midlands/Blue Triangle Lynxs in the near future. One of these is seen below.

A view of the yard last Sunday. The good use of the destination equipment should be noted.

Lynx 78 seen on the 336 in Amersham last Friday.

Metrobus M703 on route 2 leaving Newlands Bus Station.
Again the full destination display is of note.

City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.

This coming Wednesday should prove most interesting with the Worthington Cup match against Aston Villa bringing a 12000 sell out crowd to the Kassam Stadium. Oxford Bus are planning 12 buses to operate routes 601 and 602 and doubtless there will be some surprises in view of the fact that services will operate at the latter end of the normal rush hour. Kick off is 1945.

The two Olympians on loan to Metrobus at Crawley have returned to Oxford during last week, one of them bearing X80 OXFORD on the blind. Now that would have been something if they had actually operated such a service!!!

223 remains with Thames Travel and 208 remains in reserve. The other two, 221 and 222 are to be seen normally on 35 road during the week.

Last Friday a couple of interesting sightings provided Volvo 635 heading towards the ring road with Thornhill-28 on the blind and Trident 102 on route 2 in the afternoon and on a 2A from the station in the evening.

Paul Green writes "Thought you might like to know that Rambler of Hastings have purchased a former Oxford Dennis Dart Marshall, now converted to single door and reregistered UDY512. Also in East Sussex, I enclose a photograph of a sister bus (514) with RDH Services, seen in Lewes earlier in the year."


RDH services now have ex Oxford Dart 514 in service at Lewes.
Photo courtesy Paul Green

An unusual working last Saturday was new Gatwick allocated Volvo B12B, nr 29
on the X70 to Heathrow. It was a very wet night and the destination was
somewhat obscured by the heavy rain. 29 is seen at Terminal 4.

Coach 10 used to be allocated to the Airport services when new.
It is now an X90 branded coach and is seen here leaving The Green last Saturday.

Brian Matthews wrote saying "With the 'Park & Ride' theme current, here is one of the earlier participants in St. Aldates in 1979  -  an ex-Midland Red Daimler Fleetline 5263 HA, f/n 914, with the front paintwork indicating the "Pear Tree - City Centre - Redbridge" service, the only two sites in operation at that time. 

........and just a few yards north, but some nine years later, a busy scene in Carfax in 1988, with ex-Northern General 3298 Atlantean MPT 298P, f/n 968, in centre stage.

Photos courtesy Brian Matthews

Following last week's question about a decker in a scrap yard, Grahame Wareham kindly supplied the following answer. Grahame says "The vehicle which your reader quite rightly identifies as ex. Oxford was a 1939 AEC Regent/Weymann No. D144 reg. no. HFC423. It was sold by COMS in 1952 to Deacon, Dorchester, after being converted to living accommodation at Cowley Road. It passed to Mains Motors for scrap (having no mechanical units) and was still there in 1977. It was scrapped on site during 1984. It was at one time considered as a preservation project but the problem of extracting it forced a U turn.

There were other buses in the yard of ex. M&D and East Kent origin,  which had also been COMS caravans.

At the time of my last visit in 1984 there were a number of Alder Valley vehicles in the yard for scrap, mainly MWs. Lodekkas and Reliances. I believe Chiltern Queens purchased two of theirs from Mr Main."

Heyfordian, Bicester & High Wycombe.

Sad news comes of excessive vandalism at West Wycombe yard last week. Several buses had windows broken and a number had fire extinguishers let off. Sadly the yard does lack adequate security in the dark hours and the damage caused considerable inconvenience.

Motts of Aylesbury

Following my notes last week, Trevor Wilson writes re the olympian I saw "I do not know how many Motts have but try E153OMD. The long LIL Olympian was used for while on a BCC Schools Contract Chalfont Common<>Chesham High School."

Red Rose, Aylesbury.

I asked last week about a double decker seen at Red Rose. Matt Wheeler writes "Regarding the Red Rose double decker..... I'm not sure its Red Rose's as I saw it from a distance last week and the name on the side is "Red Line". Although as well as last week I have seen it previously on the Red Rose yard, at the end of August, initially in Arriva livery, then a couple of days later it was plain red. Unfortunately, I do not have an ID on it, all I am certain is that it is not ex Arriva the Shires, as the destination display was numbers then two "destination" panels (a little like Travel West Midlands have on their older deckers)."

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford

Olympian 515 worked an X2 service last Saturday.

Another interesting working last Friday evening was Olympian 524 on route 10

Tracey Wright emailed saying "there is now an extra bus based at Chipping Norton. The bus is normally Witney based Dart 714 and it works a Mon-Fri duty from 0700-1855 on route 20. The bus is not used on Saturday or Sunday."

Newman Morgan writes "I noticed that Stagecoach in Banbury has now become Stagecoach in Oxfordshire. I wonder if this branding will apply to all non-Oxford city vehicles."

Rob Williams writes "
Leamington's 202 has been repainted into new livery, noted this morning."

The end of summer and last week, M A N 920 heads towards George St on a route 7 working.

Accidents will happen and Tube 54 shows a small repair job on the offside and a resultant lack of livery.

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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002