Sunday 7th November 2004
next update week ending 21st November 2004
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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A quieter week and as the weather was very poor on Saturday I failed to take any pictures in and around our area, a first for a long time.
The Oxford Times this week carries a story about Worth's losing the 70 Oxford-Charlbury service to Stagecoach. It is sad to relate that Worth's started this service between the two world wars and have operated it ever since. One can understand the present owners annoyance at losing the service but in these days of tendering to councils, the rule is that the lowest tender must be taken and this is where Worth's lost out. I am hoping to run a story with pictures shortly after the last service and if anyone has any contributions in terms of memories or photographs these would be most appreciated.
Last week I
published a photo of a First Group London Olympian leaving Oxford, presumably
London bound. It seems I was mistaken to thin it was on training duties as I
have now received e-mails from Keith Nason saying "This
bus is not a training vehicle. It is one of Northumberland Park's allocation
for school routes 616, 657 and 853. It is one of the remaining tacho fitted
Olympians. Judging by the blind therefore I assume it is on a private hire.
Also it was new 1998 not 1993.
Reasons I do not think VDN34215 is on training duties:
- it has no L plates and there seems to be no evidence of an instructor.
- VDNs are rarely used as trainers (I have not heard of it).
- It is unlikely East area of First London would be training any drivers - they most probably have too many (or very likely in March 2005).
- This bus is regular private hire bus.
I will try to check what it was doing.
My thanks to Keith for these comments and corrections. Yes, he is right, there was no evidence of L plates etc so maybe it was involved in a visit to Brookes Uni and since it was empty it was going to Wheatley Campus for its passengers.
Maybe the mystery will be solved?
Buckinghamshire County run a service brand called "rider on call". Details may be found at the following links and a pciture of the bus used is published below.
This Optare Allero is used on the service mentioned above, run by Walters Limousines of Didcot.
It seems the buses are kept at Princes Risboro and the run two services, the one above
and also one from Marlow to Henley.
Phil Rumsby writes "A rather belated congratulations on your 100th issue on the new archive. It was really interesting reading your summary of the progess since the launch of the motorway services in the later 80s. With the modern air-conditioned coaches we have now, it seems stange to think of the hundreds of hours I spent in either freezing or boiling conditions on smoke filled Leyland Leopard coaches! I can also remember the bendy-coaches - they were so long: very strange sitting on the back seat - I was still at Thornhill while the driver was almost at junction 6!!
By the way, do you have photographs of the short lived Airport Tube with the striking airplane livery? I believe the service became the 390 and went to Heathrow for a while via Henley rather than direct on the M40."
I do have a couple but maybe other readers can help?
Oxford goings on
One question I pose is why are the traffic lights in certain places in Oxford so oddly set. A junction which springs to mind is that at Cowley by the Swan. Whilst traffic waits in three directions, that in another direction gets two bites of the cherry. It certainly cuases delays to the bus services using that junction. Another set which springs to mind is that allowing the exit of traffic from Thornhill Park & Ride. Even in the middle of the night one can wait some minutes for the lights to change and yet, where there is no traffic waiting at all from the road opposite the lights religiously change to green and then main road traffic gets the go. I would have thought that in this day and age of technology things could have been better arranged?
Debate on transport blueprint
The Oxford Times this week reports that people in Oxfordshire are being given the chance to have their say about transport issues in the county. The campaign is part of the preparation of a policy blueprint that will last until beyond 2011.
A website has been established so that people can contribute on-line with their views.
The link for this site is http://www.transaction.org.uk
50 YEARS OF
SOUTH MIDLAND, 1921 – 1970
WRITTEN BY DAVID FLITTON AND PUBLISHED BY PAUL LACEY
Copies of this book should be available by mail order from Paul from 9th November.
One of the pictures to be found in the 50 years of South Midland book.
To order the book please download the attached document and there you will find all details. (I understand that the link was not working but this is now corrected. please be patient for the form to download. Ed.)
Order form for the South Midland book
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 7th November 2004
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
News of the local companies – 7th November 2004
A visit to Wycombe on Friday revealed much to my camera and I especially noticed the improvements to the Volvo B6s which for so long have had poor or even no destination blinds. It was noticeable however how many buses carried paper route number stickers in the nearside front windows.
Arriva's 3107 shows off its new destination display. Several of this batch have now been fitted with these displays.
Arriva 3145 passes the fountains in Frogmoor on a 326 service to Micklefield last Friday.
Martyn Banham caught an unusual bus on the 280 last week. It is pictured at Gypsy Lane/Brookes Uni.
From the same source, Martyn, one of the ex Oxford Park & Ride Olympians, for so long a mainstay of operations in Wycombe
was caught on camera in its new hone, Southend, in the first week of working. 5828 is route 1 to Hadleigh.
Gavin Francis caught 5854 on new route 31 early last week complete with a full set of correct blinds!!
Gavin Francis writes
"Went into Wycombe this morning to check up on new route 31. It was being
operated by double-deckers, ex-London 5853/4/6, 5109 and Chimes ad-bus 5130.
Typical Arriva, start a new route, no changes on the bus stops in Downley which
still showed the route 310, and use 15-20 year old buses to start the service.
None of the ones I saw had more than a handful of people on them.
For the first time ever I saw one of the THAMES VALLEY LINE route 328/9 Volvos on the 301 to Flackwell Heath. Just couldn't get in the right position to get a picture". (I got a picture of one on the 31 Ed.)
Alex Evans wrote "I am a student at the RGS High Wycombe, who usually catches the 363 service from school to Penn. It would appear that Arriva have now scrapped the 363 service after many years and it has been re-numbered the 31. I believe there is a slight route change to this before it arrives in Penn and also that the 31 will run more frequently (every 15 mins I think) compared to the old 363's half hourly slot. Another new service is the 631, which I believe follows the same route as the 31 but it is for RGS Students only. I think this is a result of too many boys to fit on one bus in both mornings and evenings, thus there are now two services. Olympian 5132 (H202GRO) was on the 631 this afternoon (November 1st), but it's destination blind was displaying Penn rather than School Contract, which I have noticed some similar school services do.
I saw new ex-London Olympian 5851 (C36 CHM) on the 31 to Penn this morning (Tuesday 2nd). It now appears to have been fitted with the large number blind, common to all 5 of the ex-London Olympians, but not yet destination ones.
Also, does anyone know of the whereabouts of Olympians 5124 (G294UMJ) and 5129 (H199GRO)? I haven't seen them for a few months now."
though I would reply to a couple of points in this week's web page.
With regard to C36 CHM it has indeed come from Ware, but interestingly it is the only one of the batch I have never seen despite several visits to Hertford and Waltham Cross. I wonder why it has been repainted again recently as it would have been done on transfer from Arriva London only just over a year ago.
5826 (E226 CFC) was also mentioned. I believe it is now at Aylesbury as I saw it at Luton on the 61 one day last week."
Martyn Banham wrote to enclose the photo above "Sorry I missed something off... I just read a few issues back that a few photos of ex-Oxford E226CFC were wanted. Well I can supply photos of E228CFC in its first week of service in Southend.
Anyway - I was not expecting to get any unusual sightings this week, but in good tradition two came along at once. Arriva 3378 M268VPU Dennis Lance/Pathfinder on the 280, which seems to be the route to watch at the moment. If you are interested, I enclose a photo of sister vehicle 3379 taken Sunday 31st October: in Southend. Nice to see them both...."
Nigel Peach adds "Northern Counties Paladin Volvo B6 3107 (L307HPP) was in the bus station on Monday 1st Nov. According to my Arriva handbook this bus was based in Hitchin. (see photo above Ed.)
I've mentioned before that these Volvos are beginning to be fitted with far better destination displays. A third bus so treated (following 3126 and 3110) is ex Yellow Bus 3139. Four (or five) to go!
I've noticed that new cross town route 31 from Downley to Penn has been launched (with no blaze of publicity!) replacing routes 310 and 363. The usual buses on this route appear to be the ex London Olympians (recent addition 5851, and 5853-6) but sometimes a single decker appears. I'm pleased to notice that the blinds seem to have been repaired on these Olympians."
Nigel Peach writes "Metrobus KYV703X was one that was due to be retired, and was not one that featured in the short-lived renumbering scheme. But it is back in service now.
This afternoon (Sunday 7th) I stumbled across a yard in Baker Street (not far from the main depot) which was full of Carousel's vehicles. I wonder if this has replaced the former petrol station in Bridge Street which only appeared to be housing two Lynx and one Metrobus (none of which look to have moved for a long time!) when I drove past?"
Gavin Francis sent this picture of Olympian L556 on the 4 to Chesham last Monday.
Sorry to Carousel who do make every effort to produce a good and well maintained fleet.
However I noticed that M336 which is ex Arriva has still got a blue and cream roof which would not normally be seen from the pavement.
I also noted today that one of the ex West midlands Lynxs is still in service.
Rob Williams reports "Carousel were part of the Reading-Newbury rail replacements today, running an A40 branded Olympian, DAF 981 and Lynx F78DDA."
Excellent news is that next March Corgi Original Omnibus will release a model of Oxford Espress nr 16. A pre release picture is included below and it is rather gratifying to see this model as I took the pictures for the model maker to work from.
The Corgi Original Omnibus model due to be released next Spring.
Whilst it is not unusual for a non low floor bus to be seen on the 5, a single door is not such a regular event.
Here 603 passes Carfax Tower on its way to Blackbird Lees a few weeks ago.
The low floors on the same day were to be found on 2 road as exemplified by 807 in New Road.
Driver's talk around the city suggests a new and large order of new buses for next Spring. When details are available I will bring them to you.
Ian Pinnell wrote "The 400 Park and Ride is set to soon stop outside of Blockbuster Video in Headington shops. 2 notices were put up at the present stop in Headington Shops, but they have suddenly been removed" (Does anyone know what the situation is? Ed.)
D8, a 1999 DAF/Van Hool operates a 757 service through High Wycombe.
When hew these coaches operated the Speedlink Heathrow-Gatwick service with 35 seats, tables and table lights.
They now seat 45 and the tables have been removed.
One odd sighting for two weekends now is the appearance in Oxford of a coach from the batch pictured above, heading towards Gloucester Green well after midnight with the destination 700 Gatwick. To the uninitiated could be forgiven for wondering if National Express now operated between Oxford and Gatwick !
80009 arrives at Oxford !
Rob Williams writes with very interesting news "The diesel electric hybrid 80009 arrived at the depot yesterday, 5/11, lunchtime. It won't appear on the streets until at least Wednesday next week. The plans for when it will be where and what exactly it will be doing are still being finalised.
today Ralf Adams reported "I was fortunate to be able to look at this bus
today. On the side it is advertised as Electric Bus and it was noticeable how
smooth the sides of the bus were (is bonded panels together correct?) and the
vehicle has a very futuristic appearance.
It is a 30 seat dual door with allowance for 20 standing passengers in the length of a standard Dart. The equivalent of one row of seats is taken up at the very back with electrical equipment. In weight it is 10150 which is heavier than a longer MAN at 9900. Batteries always weigh a lot - note the 4 Optare buses in Oxford some years ago.
I was very impressed that every seat had ample leg room unlike many buses where every possible seat is squeezed in, plus good head room. The back area was raised up 2 steps. Behind the first row both sides was a high luggage compartment which appeared to be the wheelarch plus I image electrical equipment. Certainly the next 3 seats were facing inwards with electrical equipment underneath.
There is a large windscreen wiper in the front (obviously), plus a small one on the nearside so that the driver can see the external nearside mirror views easily. Also at the front corner nearside and offside is a small "step" possibly to adjust the mirrors
I am now looking forward to Rob's next posting on when it will be on the road. No ticket machine or cash tray is installed so either will need to be installed or free rides only as in Warwickshire. My staff may find we are short staffed at the end of the week when I abandon them for something more important.
Ian Pinnell writes "22054 (previously Brookes Bus Branded) on route 7. It still has the radio and speakers in place around the bus, I thought these would have been removed?"
Banham writes "Another Volvo B10M-55 appeared on the U1: this time 20542
P542ESA. I was waiting for the U1 at the time, so it made a nice surprise."
Rob Williams notes that "... the 20As will be extensions of the current Oxford - Woodstock shorts, so the service will operate as follows:
20: Oxford - Woodstock - Chipping Norton
20A: Oxford - Woodstock - Charlbury
with each running hourly to give the current half hourly headway between Oxford and Woodstock.
It is likely that some more of the 20s will become decker operated."
Rob goes on to say "....the 20A replaces the 70 by extending existing route 20 journeys to Woodstock, rather than it being an exercise to simply renumber the 70. The overall frequency on the 20 remains the same, the only difference is that half will be 20As rather than Woodstock short workings. Virtually all of the departure times from Oxford remain unchanged. There will be one additional departure compared to the current 20 timetable, an extra 20A in each of the peaks.
Don't know exactly what fleet changes all of the new contracts will entail yet, but they are likely to be interesting. The 20 will probably need three deckers and two B10Ms, but with Brookesbus using all of the Olympians at the moment there may need to be some short term stop gap measures! The 5A/B will probably receive second hand Dart SLFs from somewhere, whilst the 7D will probably be operated using existing stock.
Other Stagecoach news
Lapthorn wrote "Last week on two consecutive days Stagecoach most unusually
used an express coach on this route! I have never seen that before. Driving at
the time, but looked like the older type of coach that has been used a lot on
the Oxford to Cambridge route (with narrow destination blind
aperture). Days involved were Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 Oct. The WED coach was seen by me on the 1645 ex GGreen."
Graham Mildenhall replied "I travel to/from work on the A420 every day, can't say that I noticed anything this a.m. but will keep a look out now and report any sightings!"
Ross noted in addition that "...apparently ex Stagecoach East B10M/Plaxton Interurban 52158 (L158JNH) is at Swindon and is due to become a driver trainer. Don't know if this is actually the vehicle or one of the vehicles that have been appearing but it is a possibility."
20694 mentioned above laoding at Pullens Lane and caught in the lens of Martyn Banham last week
Last week the NEC hosted the Coach & Bus Show 2004. Mentor the Neoplan dealers exhibited 50124 which was specially prepared for the show. It is now back in service looking very fine indeed.
Rob Williams sent this picture of 50124 which was exhibited at the NEC last week.
I was interested to note that ex Tubes or coaches which had worked on the Tube appear in two interesting pictures on the Campbell Morrison photo site and I have borrowed two for inclusion on this week's page.
The very old and the old side by side in Scotland.
Last week I included a picture of this coach on trial on the Tube some years ago.
Several readers have suggested that some changes may occur to the Oxford-London service but as yet nothing official has been released by the company.
Suzy Scott writes "...thanks for posting those pictures! Former Fife 561 (the bendi) is now with Bluebird Buses for Megabus.com work between Aberdeen and Glasgow/London." (see above Ed.)
Gavin Francis writes "... Stagecoach East London 18256 at the depot on Megabus. This is one of the proposed 40 buses in London which are having Support The Bid Advertising supplied. I have mentioned seeing this on the Oxford service before but this is the first time I have been able to get a picture.
Gavin Francis sent this picture of an all over advert bus operating the Oxford-London service early last week.
Ian Pinnell writes ".... noted that in Thursdays edition of The Oxford Mail, it says that people power has saved the Thames Travel service X47 (Formally 107) from axe on Saturday. It also says that this service will turn from a 2hourly service to a 1hourly service."
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An interesting foreign visitor last Friday was this Setra but I am not sure what country it originates from?
Some readers sent comments on this photo published
last week. Stephen Le Bras says "It
is a Setra S416GTHD from the Czech Republic. Quite a few Czech coaches appeared
last Friday and this was one of them. Note the feature window which
distinguishes from a Top Class 400 Setra."
Andrew Babbs writes "With regards to your Setra photo, I believe that it is from the Czech Republic. The website address is readable on the side – www.gumdrop.cz – which if visited confirms that the company is based in Prague (Praha). Their website even enables you to enquire about hiring the various types of coaches in the Gumdrop fleet."
Thanks to you both for the comments. I am pleased how much information is forthcoming from readers of this page.
your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me
These are two most interesting sites which I do recommend
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002