Monday 7th March 2005
next update week ending 19th March 2005
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Spring seems to be on the way at last with the appearance of blossom on the trees as shown by the picture below of the City Sightseeing Olympian cruising down High Street on a slightly warmer Monday morning.
I was also travelling passenger today and took this rather nice picture of a Stagecoach M A N coming down Headington Hill.
There is something "picture postcard" 'ish about this hot of 22923 on the 7C.
Indeed there is news this week of the acquisition of "the other" open top tour operator in Oxford, Full Circle tours, by City Sightseeing and further news of a new double deck open top bus for the CSS tour later this year. Full detail can be found under the Tappins heading in this week's fleet news.
The hole or at least the very poor road surface in St Aldates, mentioned last week is now being repaired a fact doubtless much appreciated by many people who use this road each day.
Also I note that bus stop G2 in St Aldates, the one which many Thames Travel services depart from has now reappeared, shelter and all. It lack timetables as yet but is appreciated by those who use services from this stop.
I notice that so far the Bus Interchange at Lewknor is not quite finished as the box supposed to contain a telephone for intending Connections passengers so far lack any instrument on the Oxford bound side.
I am told that the use of the service is gradually improving and people I have spoken to in Watlington certainly appreciate the service. I hope that it is used and gains in strength. It would be a pity to see the service fail due to lack of support.
An interesting web site
Peter Horrex wrote to say ".....Just the very briefest of e-mails to say how much I enjoy your pages. I am not local to Oxford, and have virtually no interest in the area other than my hobby of Buses. Your site is amongst the best on the net - keep it up - much appreciated.
Your readers may be interested to visit my sites which are:
Download my Bus Video clips:
Routemasters in High Wycombe
Nigel James writes to say "The Routemasters, pictured at the premises of Ward Jones in Binders Yard on 3rd March, are both owned by Timebus. RML2310 is of some local interest as it formed a part of the High Wycombe Garage (HE) allocation between September 1971 and October 1973. This was, I believe, the only Wycombe RML to be repainted into the London Country mid-green colour, used for a short time before the introduction of NBC leaf green. I always look forward to reading the OCBP weekly updates and like many others appreciate the amount of work you put into it."
More comments on the Westgate development by Noam Bleicher
Noam writes to say "...can
I add some comments to those you made regarding the Westgate in your latest
It is not just a matter of how far people are prepared to walk, although that is the element of it. Queen St pedestrianisation is high on the political agenda, but will mean the loss of a turning facility which will
have to be accommodated elsewhere. Turning buses around at Oxpens, or at Butterwyke Place, will mean buses having to get embroiled in the stationary traffic on Thames St caused by queuing for the Westgate Car Park. Even worse, it will mean the principal boarding point for eastbound services (1, 3, 4, 7 for example) being on St Aldates, where the road and pavements are already congested.
The other turning point suggested is the Railway Station, but this is already congested as it is, and operators' costs will rise if forced to run more dead mileage out to the station and back.
The pressures on turning space and kerb space are leading some officers at the City Council (and doubtless others) to consider removing long-distance and airport buses to a remote location, at a Park & Ride or in a suburb. This would be to the great detriment of many users and we are strongly opposed to this.
The only way truly to accommodate existing services, and future growth, is to build a dedicated bus station in the City Centre, either at the Westgate Centre or at Worcester St Car Park."
the timetable booklets for Slough/Windsor Running Day on Sunday 17th April are now available price £5 inclusive of postage from
Cheques payable to Amersham & District Motorbus Society please.
For those in the Oxford area there is a special X20
Returning from Slough @ 13.25 & 17.25
There are 136 scheduled departures from Slough Bus Stn on the day
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week.
Malcolm Crowe - Monday 7th March 2005
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News of the local companies – 7th March 2005
Julian Wells writes "Following up from a previous article on your page reference the afore mentioned vehicle I can advise you that it probably came from Dodd's of Troon as Charlton Services got a similar vehicle from the same source, I drove this vehicle on a few occasions as a 32 seater with floor mount toilet at rear but now it has had the toilet removed and is run as a 34 seater I think from memory it is now registered CSU243 or 423 from my records it appears that the previous registration was not known."
Following on from last week's report on new buses for Wycombe, I have to report a slight delay on the entry into service of these fine new vehicles. I am told that some remedial work is needed to a traffic island in Arnison Avenue and some amendments may be necessary to a few Kassel Kerbs on the eastern side of town. Once the necessary works have been undertaken the new vehicles will be introduced.
Whilst traffic calming measures may help to slow down ordinary traffic they can sometimes prove a hindrance to public transport as as been shown elsewhere. These new vehicles at 12metres are much longer than the Dennis Darts used on the erstwhile 303/313 and, indeed, longer than the miscellany of vehicles currently employed on route 31.
Picture by Nigel Peach.
Nigel Peach writes "MY first "05" reg was on Arriva 3865, now registered KE05FMP. It was doing driver familiarisation work (presumably) today, and it just happened to come towards the bus station at the appropriate moment. These photos won't be the best you have of it, but at least they were taken on March 1st, the day the bus was registered! "
Steve Warwick adds "Latest numbers for the Volvo B7RLE/Wright Eclipse are as follows:"
Picture by Steve Warwick
I will hope to post information as to when the new buses will enter service as soon as it becomes available.
Martyn Banham writes "Just an oddity from last week - Arriva 3172 seen on the 261, an EL Spryte-bodied Dart - a rare sight arround Oxford (but not at home!!)"
Picture by Martyn Banham.
I was on hand to catch 5854 operating the 342 through Stokenchurch this morning, 7th March. It was nice to see a bus will complete destination blinds.
I visited the new yard on Sunday and was able to get a picture of M1432 mentioned last week by Nigel Peach. This yard also now includes an operations office.
My wife commented how much the dark red reminded her of the old COMS livery.
At the old yard, seemingly now used more for maintenance I was surprised to find a further DAF single decker. This time in white with two doors and the wording Carousel Parking Solutions fleet name on the side. I am unaware of what this bus is specifically for
I presume this bus will become DAF976. It still has dual doors and original seating as sued for the Heathrow Express link
Picture by Nigel Peach taken on 7th March 2005
It is advised that a demonstrator has been on loan to Oxford for the past week but it is not known how long the Enviro 300 will stay. It has been used on the 16 route to minchery Farm and certainly, by its livery, stands out in a crowd. Several pictures have been received and I also include mine taken on 1st March.
Ralph Adams writes "The Enviro SN54HXG has now transferred from Thames Travel to Oxford Bus Company. Yesterday it was on 16 road with fleet number 413."
Chassis SFD113AR14GG10174 Body 3092/5
photo by Kevin Stevens
Gavin Francis caught the Enviro, this time in sunshine
Following a trip on 413 Noam Bleicher wrote "I
rode the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 300 demonstrator on the 16-road this morning.
Internally the fittings are of high quality you would expect these days, but the
overall impression is of riding in a big Dart rather than a full-size Volvo or
Merc. According to the website the body is 12 m so this is the market the
vehicle is aimed at. The engine and drive-train were noisy from where I was
sitting over the offside rear wheel (is this a trait of the latest generation of
low-emission engines?). The ride was also a little hard. In single-door
configuration there were 44 seats that I could count, including all pull-downs.
The destination blind was amber LED but with annoyingly narrow characters - I
presume any orders would fit the standard OBC blind as fitted to Citaros.
Compared with some of the older buses working the city this is a very attractive vehicle and would be ideal as a city bus, but would not be suitable for inter-urban work due to the noisy engine and drive train and hard ride. As a city bus it would also need to have air-con fitted - the windscreen is vast and the first small hopper windows are quite a way back along the vehicle. At urban speeds I could not see these ventilating the passenger saloon adequately. As it is low-floor there is plenty of room for a ceiling-mounted air-con unit at the front of the bus."
I am also advised that the ex London General Darts, to be 411 and 412 have returned from Volvo where they have been refurbished and are in the "white top" livery. They are expected to enter service later this month after further work to prepare them for service has been carried out in the Oxford workshops.
Trident 103 has returned from repaint and has joined sister 105 as an ex red ex green Trident. Unusually these two buses have retained their rear destination screen, or should I say, have not had them covered over with the advertising.
Martyn Banham secured this shot of 103 showing the rear destination blind in view.
It now appears that ALL coaches have had their destination blinds reprogrammed to show an intermediate line on the screen as indicated on last week's page.
I rather liked this action shot of nr 12 rounding Carfax on its way to London this afternoon. It was looking very spruce!
The Abingdon express does not always have Citaros on the route as can be seen above when last week 8209 was rostered.
Marcus Lapthorn writes "Ex Reading Titan no. 70 seems to have now become the regular performer on the 67A route from Swindon to Wantage via Faringdon, replacing the ex London Titan which is now being used on purely school bus journeys."
3033 adds "Also noted on our bypass today that at least one of Coachman's ex-Reading Titans is now in Coachman's colours."
Goldline of Woodstock
For a number of years this one coach operator ran a Bova but this has now been replaced by the very nice Scania/Irizar pictured below.
McCleans of Witney
Matt Bullock writes "A lot of people like the new Oxford Bus Company Irizar-bodied Scanias, but here’s an early Irizar import for comparison, working with McLeans of Witney, on a National Express working at Stratford in September 1986. The stepped floor is curious! "
One of the old Speedlink Scanias seen at work last Wednesday on the 757 coming up St Aldates.
Plastow's of Wheatley
My very first 05 registration seen was this lovely Volvo B12M with Jonckheere bodywork which had been delivered to Plastow's shortly before I arrived.
With the registration FJ05AOK, A OK as owner Barbara Plastow remarked, it makes a fine addition to this fleet.
M A N 22935, this time complementing the blossom on this tree in High Street.
Rob Williams writes "Something I don't think that you've mentioned on the news page yet is the new Stagecoachbus.com website which was launched back at the start of February.
The new site really does represent quite an improvement on both of the old sites. We are taking the opportunity to try to improve the information that we supply online too, and as a start are now publishing details about roadworks that are affecting our services. More developments are planned for the future.
The local section can be found at www.stagecoachbus.com/oxfordshire"
Ralph Adams writes "Several U5, 10 and 5A buses have been arriving in the City Centre with destination SPECIAL SERVICE.
Due to road works, at the end of Hollow Way with Oxford Road, all traffic must turn left to Ring Road, the buses then join the Ring Road, turning off at the Excel junction and rejoin the Blackbird Leys Road to Templars Square and Oxford Road again. This long diversion must cause major chaos to the timetables, so I presume the buses are not picking up in an attempt to regain the time lost on the diversion. Diversion due for 4 weeks
33822 showing the SPECIAL SERVICE as mentioned by Ralph Adams. 7th March 2005
The second picture of 33821 is by Gavin Francis.
Christopher Lowe writes to say "... the former Stagecoach Oxford Alexander RL-type bodied Volvo Olympians, 16501-13 (R501-13UWL), vehicles 16503/4 and also maybe 16502 have been converted to camera buses.
These vehicles can be identified as just to the nearside of the destination and also near the rear no display there is a round metal panel with what looks like a hole in the centre. These are for the camera's to see out the front and rear, I also presume there are the camera's inside the saloons as well. The vehicles mentioned above are all painted in the latest corporate livery."
I visited Witney depot last Thursday where the staff were most helpful in enabling me to take the picture below. This gives, with one exception, the allocated type of buses based at Witney.
Witney Depot, Stagecoach 3rd March 2005.
Last week saw 22932 on the 31 to Wantage. This is not the normal class of allocation on this route.
Marcus Lapthorn writes "A second coach has joined 51527 on the 66 route between Swindon & Oxford. It is 51528."
writes "Noted today, March 3rd, on the Stagecoach Swindon 10.15 ex Swindon
Route 66 was 52158, L158JNH. I checked front, side and back to make sure I
wasn't seeing things.
No refurbished B10M-55s as yet, mainly 20685/6/9 performing for the past two weeks.
I have mentioned that outbound Tubes to London all serve Thornhill now and above 50103 is seen on an early afternoon journey to London on 7th March 2005.
It is some 9 months ago now that I photographed this coach nearing completion at the Neoplan works in Stuttgart.
Christopher Lowe wrote last evening of a surprising vehicle rostered for the late afternoon service from Manchester to London. Even more surprising was the destination screen setting as seen in his photograph below.
Christopher writes "Just thought you might like to see the vehicle operating the 17:30 Manchester to London MEGABUS journey today, Sunday 6th March. It was Stagecoach London Northern Counties Palatine I bodied Volvo Olympian, 16002 (P802GMU) painted in Stagecoach London standard livery. Although I am wondering just which seaside it is referring to on the destination."
"Just a quick note for you over the list of Megabus vehicles on your Oxford & Chilterns site. The first vehicles from this batch 13644 (G278YRJ) has now entered service on Magicbus work as opposed to Megabus work, awaiting entry into service is 13647 (H606LNA) which is also painted in Magicbus livery."
"These are then expected to be joined by 13628/39-42/9-51 which will also probably go onto Magicbus work and may be joined by some of those currently at Princess Road as there are still a number of Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians which need replacing. Especially as a number of these were recently re-instated to counter the competition from UK North (GM Buses)."
Whilst taking photos in Witney I was surprised to see this ex OBC Volvo coach in a rather spruce condition and little belying its age. It started life as a Shearings tour coach in March 1991 as H957DRJ and was acquired by OBC in 1995 with the following details:
Plaxton Paramount 3 3500
Swanbrook, Cheltenham 12/99
It has now taken on a new lease of life and looked very smart.
The only comment I could make was that an LED destination display would have fully succeeded in making this coach look very modern.
Kevin Stevens wrote in some detail about developments at Tappins and City Sightseeing. Kevin says "
Tappins/City Sightseeing Update
A fairly lengthy report this time which I hope you will be able to include in your next newsletter.
The new Tappins Neoplan has proved extremely elusive to photograph but eventually I have been able to get a couple of shots of it and I am hoping to get the front end of it soon !! One of the attached photos shows both the Neoplans and also CSS 217 which is over at Didcot for its MOT.
Enclosed also are photos of the Full Circle buses looking, you will agree, in a very sorry state having been laid up since the end of October. Yesterday, 28th February, Paul Tappin announced he had bought the buses from Paul Wallace and I brought the first one back to Didcot from Kingston Bagpuise later in the day. By the time you read this I should have collected the others. They are moving on to Ensign Bus at Purfleet once the commentary system and I guess anything else useful to CSS has been removed. That move will probably take place sometime late next week.
City Sightseeing extended their operating hours from today 1st March and the last bus now leaves the Railway station at 1700hrs. This will take us through until Easter when the summer programme starts. Easter will also see us commence operating in both directions around Oxford and already one of our seasonal drivers (Andrew) has rejoined us. It is planned that I will also return from Didcot at Easter for the summer. Fl No 549 retires from service 25th March when its MOT expires.
I have heard conflicting reports about our new bus with the latest information that the new bus (built by East Lancs apparently) arriving in June.
That is about it but I will try and get the chassis and engine number for the new Neoplan asap.
Another small point is that Tappins have acquired a Leyland Tiger (with a Laser body) from The School Bus Company. They dragged it away as scrap for the engine and gearbox to have rebuilt and put in 653 ( a service bus) which blew its engine the other day. Once the engine has been removed the bus will be dragged off to one of the scrap yards for disposal. For the record I will obtain the registration No tomorrow.
There is a strong rumour going the rounds that the old Neoplan is not long for the Tappins yard but will be sold on shortly before its MOT runs out. I will enquire further into that as and when I can.
CSS 217 passed its MOT today with flying colour so the damson Daimler will be with us a while longer I think.
CSS will not after all be operating in both directions around Oxford. Thomas Knowles is cancelling the registration to take us clockwise now that Full Circle is no more.
Thames Travel, Wallingford.
Rob Williams writes "....following on from their trials, Thames Travel have reportedly ordered two MAN 14.220 / MCV Evolutions for a new contracted service in Reading from the Madejski Stadium Park & Ride site to the Royal Berkshire Hospital."
Whites of Abingdon
A very confusing thing to a visitor using the bus or coach and standing at Sandhills on the London stop must be this Whites 108 service which u-turns at the lights and head as if to London and not Oxford with destinations set for Oxford City Centre.
Woottens of Chesham
Matt Bullock writes "Seeing the picture of Wootten’s C64HOM in the last issue prompted me to dust off the old black and white photos in my cupboard (and a colour one) which I hope may be of use to you on the website and may be of interest to some of your readers."
That same bus 19 years ago - West Midlands PTE 1064 (C64 HOM) attracts a lot of attention at the Sandwell Rally in May 1986, just a two months after delivery. Alongside is 1059 (C59 HOM), one of six Volvo Citybus/Alexander used on trials in Wolverhampton against the six Lynxes. Of course, the Lynx was favoured and WMPTE and WMT bought 250 more (1067-1316) in 1988-1990. 1061-1066 went quickly to Lea Hall in Birmingham and worked here for the rest of the WMT and TWM lives.
1062 (C62HOM) of the same batch had this experimental blue and white livery when new, seen in Wolverhampton in May 1986.
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