Issue 11

Sunday 8th December 2002

next update week commencing 16th December 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.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news please
let me know on

Sometimes life treats one very well. As I write this weeks page I am sitting in the lounge area of the Avon Valley Indoor Bowls Club at Gaydon. In fact the club is located on the old RAF station at Gaydon. I have brought the Oxford Bus Company Bowles Club for a match arranged many months ago. As a result I have been unable to go the Oxford United-Swindon Town FA 2nd round cup match but the luck is that not only can I do this week's page but I can also watch the match on BBC1.  What a gem!

On our way here, with coach 7, our route took us through the centre of Oxford and we got caught up in trouble with Swindon Town supporters and the police in Park End Street. It required a diversion via Gloucester Green and back up to Speedwell Street and back to the station area to avoid the hold up.

Swindon comes to town!!

A major event in Oxford next week will be the opening of the new Park & Ride at Water Eaton. A fleet of new Mercedes Benz Citaros has been ordered by Oxford Bus for this service but due to delivery delays none will be in service for the opening. However the first Citaro to arrive in the U.K. is expected to be available for the launch but may not be fully certified in time. This page will carry full details of the launch next week.

News of the week is the national renumbering of the Stagecoach fleet and 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  I am sure many of you will want to take advantage of this offer.

An interesting snippet from Arriva are the instructions now being issued at a number of depots, including Aylesbury, that headlights should used at all times. This, it is said, has reduced accidents by 25 per cent where it has been enforced. I wonder if other companies will follow this lead?

Arriva 5109 operates a 340 service to High Wycombe from Stokenchurch with headlights on.

One notices the attempts by the authorities to improve bus services by applying the five minute rule which means problems for operators who fail to run services to schedule. Whilst one can applaud the powers that be for this action one must sympathise with operators in places such as Oxford where traffic conditions are working against every effort to run services to time, especially at peak periods. One only has to try to enter or leave the city at busy times to realise that such a rule is impractical. Each week seems to vary and whilst efforts to improve reliability, such as the splitting of the 300 to run only to the city from each end of the route, this is only a small part of the problem. The Abingdon Road is not unique in its congestion, look at the London Road through Headington, the Banbury Road through Summertown or the Botley Road and you will see how  bad the problem is. Whilst London is introducing entry charges from next February, I wonder how long it will be before other cities follow suit? More bus lanes must come though how these are fitted in to the infrastructure is difficult to envision. Also the cost structures of the operating companies hardly allow for extra buses which only operate in rush hours on one or two journeys per day. An interesting and also difficult problem to be tackled.

Ralph Adams writes "Just watching the Monday TV news this morning and it shows film of various buses, amongst which was Oxford 779."

The piece in question was one on the use of funding and the point that maybe it would be better to use monies on other things instead of bus passes for the elderly.

I would like to repeat the note on the upcoming tour of our area on Sunday 29th December using one of the new Park & Ride Mercedes Benz Citaros. The tour will include Oxford, Wallingford, High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Bicester. There will be a cost which is going to around £10. If you are interested please let me know by e-mail marked Christmas Tour. Send your mail to as soon as possible. Demand is good and we will hopefully soon have a full load, send your booking off as soon as possible.

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

Malcolm Crowe, December 1st 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 - 8th December 2002

Arriva serving The Shires

Arriva have taken steps to improve safety and it now seems that most garages in our area are now instructing drivers to use dipped headlights at all times.

I also understand that the Amersham outstation is to close from February 2003.

Ed Maun has written on a number of interesting subjects. He says "Ref issue 9 and Arriva the Shires.   The black Olympian was parked up in Aylesbury bus station on Wednesday 27 th November.   Don’t believe it was on 323/324 as these all appear to be single deck worked these days, so I assume it has left High Wycombe.   In High Wycombe this past week has been Olympian 5081 (B271LPH) on hire to Arriva, it carries an on hire sticker in the nearside windscreen.

Further to my recent e-mail, 5081 B271LPH was still in evidence at Wycombe Bus Station on Wednesday 4th December on hire to Arriva.  It is owned by an I Kirton of Hayes.   It appeared not to be in service, being parked in the end bay furthest from the enquiry office.  It had 303 in the number blind so I assume it has been used on this service – a far cry from the successful “Easy Access” branded service of Wycombe Bus days!  To be fair though, most journeys on 303 are still worked by the low floor Darts – although you often see step entrance Darts (Bouncy castles), Scanias and even double deck Olympians.   Even a Mercedes mini bus was in use on the 303 today (4th Dec).

Ref Issue 10 and the “History of the Penn Bus Company”

This is currently available in the MDS Book Sales  (Part of Venture publications) catalogue for 2003 – price £2.50 (Ref PGL03), along with “Thackrays Way – A Family in Road Transport” (Ref PGL96, price £10.00), “Thames Valley 1920-1930” (Ref PGL00, price £15.00) and “Thames Valley the British Years 1915” (Ref PGL02 price £2.95) – all by Paul Lacey.   MDS can be contacted  - Tel: 01457 861508 or e-mail:

Another shot of one of the U9 allocated Varios based at Wycombe. operating the 303 again, 2196.
See the comments by Ed Maun above on the 303.

Olympian 5830 operates the 363 to Penn, the modern day reminder of the route
once operated by Penn Bus mentioned last week

Nigel Peach writes to say: "Interesting to read that all loans to Wycombe have now returned. Does this include Wright bodied Dart 3365 which was certainly still around last week, or is this a permanent addition to Wycombe. Merc 2410 has gained Wycombe blinds, so I guess that must be permanent. These two would appear to be the only additions since the original list of 65 when the two depots merged.

In addition, Merc 2415 has been dumped at the back of the bus station for some months now. It puzzles me why it is left there when space is now so critical & many buses now have to be housed outside.

Alexander bodied Volvo has been lying in the back row of the bus station for some weeks now. I haven't seen either of the other two of this batch (3242/3) for some time now. Are they still around?

According to November's "Buses" 5379 (the scruffy Olympian) has now been preserved by Eddie Knorn.

You ask where coach Olympian D822UTF (5822) might be now. Again, November's "Buses" provides the answer.  It has been sold to Fairbrother, Warrington, along with sister 5823. 5822 was a bus that, by my calculations, had 5 different liveries in its time in Wycombe. It also had its dot matrix display replaced by a conventional one after severe front end accident damage while working route X15 in early June 1993."

Charlton Services

City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.

Mercedes Benz Demonstrator. here pending delivery of the
Citaros for the new Park & Ride.  BX02CMX
It is to be numbered 851 whilst at Oxford.

Another temporary loan is this Dart SLF now numbered 411 for the 500 which starts on Tuesday.

The first Mercedes Benz Citaro arrived in the UK last Friday and should be present for the opening of Water Eaton next Tuesday. We will have a full report next weekend.

Trident 107 has also been fitted with a Hannover display.

Dart 512 spent most of Thursday on the 35 to Abingdon. I am not sure if it operated any Didcot services?

Wednesday 4th saw Dart 515 on 5L card , (5road) for part of the day. On the same day 629 and 637 were on 15 road.

Friday 6th saw 223 on the 1745 working to Didcot due to late running of the bus allocated to that service. Traffic on the Abingdon Road again.

Trident 105 pictured by Geoff Cunliffe at Pear Tree and a first effort with his new digital camera..

Following rectification work by Plaxtons, coach 18 has received a repaint and X90 branding.
Coaches 19 and 20 are expected to be rebranded X90 shortly. 18 looks splendid.

Another shot of 18, this time before departure to London last Saturday afternoon on the 1515 departure.

Today saw Oxford Bus put out 12 buses on football specials.
929 operated the 602 service from Kidlington and is seen here leaving the depot. I think this is
the first time this bus has operated the 602.

Oxford United played Swindon Town in the next round of the F A Cup today, Sunday December 8th 2002. Extra buses were provided for the 11500 crowd and many supporters from Swindon used the train to get to Oxford. Buses used today were as follows:

Service 601 had Olympians 214, 221, 222, 223 and 224 plus tridents 101 and 102 and finally Volvos 801 and 810. On the return after the match Volvo 817 was additionally used.

The result was excellent for Oxford with a 1-0 win over Swindon. The next round away against Arsenal may not be an easy match but I am sure all at United will give of their best.

Service 602  had an all Trident service with 929 starting from Kidlington with back up from 117 plus Tridents 103 and 108 on the remainder of the route.

Vic Gackowski wrote after the match "your COMS  colleagues had quite a job on today. The Police were trying to run the 601 from the Station with Oxford and Swindon Fans separated on to different buses. We got on OK , on an Oxford Fans Bus (810). 

Olympians , Tridents and 800s were all in use with plenty of Standbys  parked up. It must have been one of the biggest COMS operations of the season. The Timetable appeared to be running "As Required"  as we saw one Trident leave the Station well before the first booked departure time of  1145. During the game and well before the final whistle  , we saw Tridents and Olympians shunting into position at the North Stand to pick up Swindon Fans whilst the 800s (801  was one at least , replaced from 810 which operated earlier) and the remaining  DDs positioned in the normal pick up  for the Oxford Fans . This worked well and there was no trouble that we could see. The Drivers could not have seen much of the game at all on this occasion. Obviously the Police were about in large numbers at the Station and the Stadium .Its Arsenal  next , Boy what a challenge."

Indeed Vic, what a challenge!  Certainly for those who watched the match on BBC1, we were treated to regular coverage of Oxford Bus Olympians parked at the end of the ground.

Friday evening saw a number of less than frequent allocations. 5 road had 608 and 637 in place of normal low floor 8xx. 15 road had 611 and 640 in place of low floor buses.

Trident 109 has returned from Alexanders in the new livery and with 107 now awaits vinyls. 110 has now gone away for treatment. Coach 17 is away at Plaxtons.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford 

Interesting news is that the following Stagecoach London Volvo Olympians are being cascaded to Oxford.

VA72 R172VPU (ex BW) : VA76 R176VPU (ex PD) : VA77 R177VPU (ex BW) : VA79 R179VPU (ex BW) :
VA140 R140EVX (ex PD) : VA144, R144EVX. (ex PD)

All have Alexander RL bodywork.

They will be converted to single door before transfer and will be fleet numbers within the new system. These are expected to be 16072 etc

It was interesting to see VA75 on the 8 to Old Ford near Victoria last Saturday.

These are of course low height examples and will match the very similar 514-526 batch presently in Oxford.

Following the route branding of the 1 to Blackbird Leys (see below) route 3 to Rose Hill will be branded from Monday 9th December, this time with colour pink. The buses allocated to this service are 935-938. (Remember that 939 was damaged beyond repair in an accident at Chipping Norton some months ago now.).

A further photo of The M A N s on route 1 - 947 at Carfax.

Here 947 shows off its vinyls on the rear off side corner panel and rear window.

Although nominally allocated to route 77, the three ex London Olympians do get on to other routes from time to time.
Here 528 operates a 10A duty last Saturday.

The allocation of the fleet in "South Midlands" is given below. I would like to thank Mr David Whitley of Stagecoach for his help in providing this information.

This is correct to 11.11.02 and buses in the new livery are shown in bold. It is now complete with all depots.

BANBURY DEPOT, DD - 963  Midi  106, 107, 108, 457, 458, 461, 463, 852, 853, 854, 856, 857,  MB - 425, 362, 363, 588

LEAMINGTON DEPOT : DD - 823, 824, 825, 827, 828, 839, 842, 845, 925, 926, 927, 909, 914, 915, 916, 917, 918, 919 920, 921, 922,
928, 929, 930, 931, 932, 933, 934, 935.
  SD 201, 202, 217, 218, 219, 220, 229, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 238, 261, 262 
418, 421, 334, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 586, 601-15.

NUNEATON DEPOT. DD  832, 836. SD 702, 205-12, 213, 214-16, 226, 227, 239, 244   MIDIBUS 101, 102, 104, 105, 109, 110, 111, 150-158, 459, 460, 462, 464-7, 469-75  MB  342, 343, 346, 347, 348, 349, 350, 352, 361, 365-72

OXFORD DEPOT : DD 500, 504, 524, 528-30, SD 203, 204, 228, 235, 242, 901-903, 904-912, 913-18, 919-30K, 931-49,
709-714, 751, 752, 753, 754, 756, 757, 758, 759, 761, 762, 763, 764, 779, 784, 793, 794, 795, 839, 840, 841 -
 371, 372, 374, 376, 383, 453   TUBES 34-60, 66

RUGBY DEPOT: DD 821, 831, 837, 902-4, 910-2, 962. SD 705, 221, 223-5, 243, 246, 247, 248  MIDI 103, 451-6 MB 353, 354, 355-8, 359, 360, 364, 404, 405-6, COACH 30-9, 61-3

WITNEY DEPOT: DD 514-23, 525-6 MIDI 725-30  MB 373, 375, 377, 378, 379, 380, 381, 382 415, 423, 426, 457-9

The to Varios 373 and 375 azt Witney are advised as being in reserve. 501, 710 and 722 are noted as sold.  714 has been transferred from Witney to Oxford.  Mini Bus 426 is noted as being in reserve at Witney.

Disposals of note are : 247,248 - L247-8FDV to the Oxford Bus Museum.

Leyland National 710 TOF710S & 722 PUK622R are sold.

Leyland National 772  BVP772V is awaiting disposal

There are only two remaining Nationals in service with 702 at Nuneaton and 705 at Rugby.

Oxford is the largest depot in the region with 91 vehicles plus the 28 Tubes. Oxford & Rugby are now the only depots with coaches..Rugby has a total coach allocation of 13.

Keith Wood wrote "Thanks for the SSM allocations on the page this week. A couple of amendments to the list. Leamington Merc 338 is in New Livery not 337. Whilst the quickest repaint must go to Volvo 213 at Nuneaton done in under a week and back in service last Monday ! Also New Solo 616 is YG52DHM.  475 P332JND ex Oxford is finally in service at Nuneaton. Merc 346 has a Rear Advert for Warwickshire County Council Community Education Service.

Rob Williams recently reminded us that "There are now only 7 Volvo B10Ms / Alexander PSs in the whole Warwickshire fleet left in the old livery (Leamington - 201, 230 & 232, Nuneaton 213, 239 and Rugby 243, 247), plus Leamington's two older Volvo B10M / Alexander P's 261/2."


Brian Matthews wrote with some interesting information on the old COMS. He says "Some images this week from the administration associated with the operating of  bus companies.   

The COMS timetable has 144 pages, a large fold-out map of the County and would just fit into an inside jacket pocket.

 COMS tickets from various eras   - 

The machine printing of the fare details on the first and last examples obviously provided an end of shift 'cash balancing' facility within the ticket machine   - but what about the middle example.  I seem to remember these from the 1950's with the tickets being issued through a slot in the top (narrow) plate of the machine after the fare details had been completed by pencil through a carbonised paper system, presumably leaving a copy in the machine.   The combination of the conductor's writing and the added factor of many probably being wobbly completed with the bus under way must surely have led to considerable reconciliation problems.    Are there any of our readers, perhaps even some with 'hands-on' experience of this type of ticket machine, who can supply more detail on this ? 

Steve Annells wrote following the picture of Leyland PD2 24 last week, saying:

I well remember Brighton 24; it was allotted to Wantage garage and worked into Oxford on what was ostensibly a 22A as far as Abingdon, then an 8B through Radley/Kennington, but by the time it picked me up at Drayton Newtown to go to school it invariably had 8B wound up on the front anyway.

Also Steve sent a movie file for my own use downloaded from the British Pathe News website - it is interesting for the first few seconds as a City of Oxford Regent V pulls up in the High.  Full reference is 1535.14  THE DUKE VISITS OXFORD
12/06/1958.  The bus may be 974 (974CWL), but I'm open to alternative suggestions!  The quality of these free downloads from the site is variable (or you could pay for a better one!), but I'm turning up some interesting stuff in my research for 'Buses on Screen', including a Midland Red Leyland PSU3 of the xxxxHA batch, and two saloons and a 'decker (probably Thames Valley) negotiating floods in Maidenhead in 1929! - but be prepared to be patient and work off the search facility, you have to dig for them.   I've not found anything else from Oxford - yet!

Certainly somewhere interesting to surf.

Also following on from last week Nigel Butcher wrote in and also sent a couple of photos one of which I show below. He says "Attached are two files showing OFC902H as mentioned in Martin Nimmo's report last week which you may wish to use.

Col Pic 1     OFC902H  Bristol VR  at "The Wooden Bridge"  Guildford.  May 1970   (not used)
Pic 2     OFC902H  at the HCVS Rally at Brighton           

Note:  OFC902H was one of three Bristol VR's destined for Southern Vectis, but diverted at the last minute to COMS to assist with their shortage of serviceable vehicles.

A group of enthusiasts took it to Brighton to the HCVS Rally at Brighton before it entered service with COMS.

OFC 902 H  at the HCVS Rally at Brighton

Nigel Peach wrote on a similar subject saying "The VR pictured is not HJB 457W but 1557 HJB 464W. (HJB 457W was 1550) The "similarity but not quite" of the fleet nos & reg nos of that batch of 14 VRs always confused me! 1557 was one of about 6 VRs deemed surplus to requirements & withdrawn in Sept 1992. (the others going en masse in Oct 1996). I think 1557 went to Hedingham Omnibuses where it was joined later by other HJBs. 1554-7 were originally ordered by East Kent Road Car but were diverted to Alder Valley.

Apologies for my mistaken reporting of the fleet number and registration combination

Some of the above information comes from a booklet produced by Brian Hawes of the Thames Valley & Aldershot Bus Circle.

I hope that is of interest. Thanks for awakening some memories!

A source from within Oxford Bus, Grahame Wareham suggests that the VR shown in the USA in a recent issue was 474 and not 480-. He remebers exporting 474 but not 480. Any comments?

Definitely ex COMS but is it 474 or 480?

Finally Mike Penn writes "Some more photographs for you on an historic theme.  The first is of South Midland 83 (RBW83M), an ECW bodied Bristol RELH6L to dual purpose design, photographed at a bus rally at the Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley, near Southampton on July 8th 1984.  The second is of South Midland 492 (EJO492V), an ECW bodied Bristol VRT/SL3/6LXB, photographed at a bus rally at Whitchurch near Bristol on August 19th 1984.

Photos by Mike Penn

Of course South Midland had a fairly brief existence.  It was formed out of the country area of City of Oxford in June 1984, was privatised in December 1986 and was absorbed by Thames Transit in December 1988.


If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at

First Somerset & Dorset (First Southern National) 6306, the latest addition to the National Express fleet
provided by that operator, 6306 - WV52FAM, a Volvo B12M with Plaxton Paragon C44Ft bodywork.
This coach was on overnight layover in VCS last Wednesday.

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