Sunday 13th March 2005
next update week ending 19th March 2005
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An appointment in Reading gave me the opportunity to photograph the local bus scene there. I was pleasantly surprised to find 12 new Scanias at work on the 4, 5 and 6 routes from the station and you can see a selection of these buses in the pictures in this week's report.
I liked the livery very much and found it a refreshing change from those now considered to be "modern". I was also pleased to meet up with correspondent Stephen Le Bras, who had come to Reading especially to see the new buses. The only incongruous thing was that the interiors did not seem to match the exterior paint work but maybe there is a reason?
The lettering on the front seats for elderly and disabled was, I felt, a very useful addition.
The blue however did not seem to match the exterior green and beige scheme.
The picture below gives a good impression of the rear of the vehicles and shows a bright image against a rather dull building.
On a general note one of my readers commented last week that the photo captions were in a font too small to read and so this week I have corrected this matter.
Abingdon Road works cause headaches for local bus companies in Oxford.
The local bus companies in Oxford are facing all kinds of problems as a result of the new roadworks on the Abingdon Road. Delays, significant ones at peak times, are resulting in one company having to put additional resources into the routes affected. Local residents, especially the elderly are complaining about the lack of reliable services and there seems no answer to the problem other than to "sit it out" until the autumn when work is completed. Indeed for the next few months it can only get worse.
On the subject of roadworks, it was interesting to spend a half hour having a meal in a cafe on the corner of George Street yesterday and watch the blatant abuse with which car drivers and cyclists ignored the "NO ENTRY" signs off Worcester Street, opened specifically for buses. Also George Street is one way at present with a lot of signs and yet even a City council rubbish truck totally ignored the one way and one can wait for the crash on the corner which seems inevitable if this is not addressed.
Another factor is the little loves, probably the worse for drink, who knock over the rather splendid barriers in George Street which mark the footpath and road way boundary, leaving a trail of problems for drivers using George Street. In fact it is extremely difficult to get a long coach out of Gloucester Green at present without kerbing the back end and barriers lying in the road do nothing to help. The turn into Beaumont Street where the traffic lights are phased to allow traffic to proceed straight ahead and not turn left cause all sorts of problems. I did notice a police van on Saturday evening ignore the red left turn light and go into Beaumont Street against the pedestrian green. Not a very good advert of driving by example I felt.
A small local operator on the 63 - Village Carrier
I've noticed this operator on a few occasions waiting in Castle Street where the service 63 seems to originate. I had opportunity to catch the bus in question on camera last week and the result appears above. I do not have any further details of the operation but feel sure one of you will inform us in due course.
Bus Users Meeting held on Friday 11th March.
There was a meeting of the local Bus Users last Friday, this used to be the NFBU - National Federation of Bus Users and a number of interesting issues were raised. A full report will be published in due course but one item was of significant interest.
It seems that there is a voice amongst local officials on the City Council that suggests maybe the move of the long distance coach services to an out of city location would help traffic congestion in the city centre.
Concern was expressed by several parties and in particular it was felt that the London services would be greatly harmed by such a move. Their success has been the "hop on - hop off" nature of the services where one can board at a convenient local stop and be returned after a day in London to the same location on ones homeward journey. If, for example, one had to make ones way to a terminus at Thornhill the ease of using the coach to London would be lost. The service would suffer and we would lose a truly unique service level which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. There are up to 12 services an hour on a Saturday morning, spread between the two operators and these are almost always fully used on Saturday morning. Let us just consider the handling of around 750 passengers an hour at Thornhill, even with improved facilities. many more people would come by car quickly swallowing up the additional capacity recently provided. And.... What about the junction for exit and arrival, the phasing is at present far from ideal.
I finally wonder what the very many visitors from London to the city would feel about being dumped at Thornhill and then having to change to another bus for the journey into the city. Many of these people are foreign visitors who have little command of the English language and enjoy the fact that they can travel to the heart of the city for the day out without having to make any changes.
I would be most interested to hear your comments on this matter.
Ken MacKenzie, Oxfordshire Other Sub Editor PSV Circle writes asking "does anyone in the group know the start and finish of the loaned Enviro 300???" (Now I think this is when it was with Thames Travel but I am unaware of how long it will be with Oxford Bus. Ed.)
Ken goes on to say "also a BMC unregistered was parked in their yard on 10th Feb. Again does anyone know the arrival and departure of this vehicle? or any other information regarding this vehicle?" (This was looked at by Thames Transit but did not meet with much enthusiasm for all accounts. It left almost as quickly as it had come Ed.)
Finally Ken says "Any sightings of new arrival or departures or anything of interest regarding Oxfordshire other operators I would be most grateful to receive as I now cover the county for the PSV Circle other operators."
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 - Sunday 13th March 2005
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News of the local companies – 13th March 2005
As I go to press there is no further news regarding the entry into service of the new Volvos for route 31 in High Wycombe.
I notice that a number of school services once worked by Arriva, for example those to Stokenchurch, are now worked by Heyfordian, using blue livered Olympians.
Vario 2196 with its new destination screen on the 326 this morning.
Nigel Peach writes "Another of those quirky coincidences - last week you showed Arriva 3172 (P672OPP), an East Lancs Flyte bodied SLF Dart in Oxford. That very bus happened to be to the right of my picture of 05 registered 3865 taken on 1st March outside Wycombe bus station. I had actually got my camera out to photograph 3172, because I don't remember seeing it in Wycombe before, when 3865 appeared round the corner.
Anyway, my picture of 3172 is attached - a poor photo as I managed to chop the top off and it's not centred, so don't feel you have to show it. But, I know that like me, you like these coincidences!
Picture by Nigel Peach
I will hope to post information as to when the new buses will enter service as soon as it becomes available.
Martyn Banham writes "My usual photo - the Arriva oddity: this time, 3355 K405FHJ, a Volvo B6/Pointer on the 261. Seen at St. Aldates, where no-one got on.
Picture by Martyn Banham.
During my visit to Reading last week I caught one of the ex Oxford Volvos on its usual Arriva 329 working with a nice setting of the rail station in the background. One of the days workings was by a Scania.
Back in Oxford Ross notes "... today (Friday) the following were all observed:
5097, 5102 - 280 5104 - 261 or 280
The Enviro 300 demonstrator is still on loan to Oxford and also continues to be confined the the Minchery Farm route. Martyn Banham sent the picture below commenting "The Enviro still seems to be operating the 16B; I notice the "www.alexander-dennis.com" vinyls on the skirt have had letters cut off."
Lee writes "Just a question about a couple of recent observations of mine. I
recall someone mentioning on the group a while ago that some of the red Tridents
were going back into P&R livery, but have not heard anything since. 105 has been
in green for two or three weeks at least now, and this week, I noted that 103
has now been done.
Will try and report anything worthwhile I see.
Keep up the reports and the excellent web site! "
(104 still has to go and I think Citaro 827 is presently away being a coat of red paint. Ed).
Our friend Bus Monkey writes to report.
401 on 2
402 on 2
637 on 5
803 on 13
638 on 15
Enviro on 16
620 on 13
104 on 400 (red).
Chris Maxfield writes to say "......Bit of a change on 500's today, herewith a photo I took of 102."
A significant piece of news this weekend is the entry into service of the first of the two London Darts, numbered 412. I saw it heading towards Barton and then caught up with it on its return to Oxford and through to Kidlington on the 2A. By this time it was 6pm and difficult to get a good photograph. Also there was trouble with the front destination screen, which whilst the side and rear would show 2A Kidlington, the front screen would only show "Not in Service".
The rear is distinctive as the new blind is quite the largest rear blind I've ever seen on a Dart.
also not that the rear number plate has been moved.
The front view taken in George Street was slightly marred by tyhe incorrect destination setting.
However an excellent job has been done to prepare these buses for service in Oxford.
Ross Williams writes "Back in Oxford today (Friday) and the following were all observed:
609 - 400
828 - 15
412 (P729RYL) has entered service (haven't seen this reported so far), in use on the 16A this lunchtime. 413 is still in service so doubt 411 is ready yet.
104 has not gone for repaint yet (still red and on 4A today).
As reported 104 is still red and indeed was on 4 road last Friday.
It is seen here in Castle Street working an Abingdon departure.
Local repaints continue and are still done by hand.
Low floor Volvo 802 seems to be the latest out of works and readers may note a small change to the original livery.
The low floor easy access lettering has now gone from the upper cove panels.
Oxford Bus continues to provide lots of interest to the enthusiast. The old very rigid route/type allocation system seems no more. It is possible to see just about any bus on any route, especially in the evenings where I noticed a 64x/65x Volvo on low floor route 13 last Friday.
The Abingdon express is normally the X13 but one or more Citaros on this route now
carry 13 route numbers to and from Abingdon. It is also interesting to note the use of the full JR name
on the front destination whilst the rear screen still proclaims JR Hospital.
due to roadworks as mentioned above the X3 is now terminating in the City Centre and not going to the Rail Station.
Waiting time appears to be taken in Bond Square. Here non route branded 837 waits time last Friday.
I don't think this particular coach, D329 has ever worked the 757 to Oxford before.
It is recorded as C35FT and is in a similar configuration to the Virgin branded coaches.
Another picture of the Reading Scanias.
This bus used to belong to Pete's Travel and may have worked the X50 Stratford-Oxford service?
It is now with Reading Buses.
M A N 22057 waits time in Magdalen Street East. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Banham writes "I
went out and about in hunt of a few buses yesterday - and promptly missed half
of them, as always.
22053 on the X4 - first time I've seen an MAN on that route, never mind the BMW-branded one and 22054 on 7A.. ( On Saturday the BMW branded M A N was on the X4. Ed)
Bus monkey reports:
20543 on 1
22930 on X31
22941 passing through town this evening with a new Megarear for Wella "Essensuals". Might buy some for Mrs Monkey (Monketta).
Ross writes "Back in Oxford today and the following were all observed:
20822 - 1 (see picture Ed.)
My picture shows 20822 unusually working low floor route 1 last Friday.
22934 - X31/31
34472 - X31 (peak) (see picture Ed.)
I loved this shot of 344762 working the X31 although it has X4 branding
whilst unbranded 34466 works the X4 departure just behind.
22203 - 10
32630 - 100
There may have also been a Trident on a peak/evening departure on the 11.
One quick question - are all the older M A Ns receiving new style seat moquettes like 22921/2 and 22203?"
The picture of 42382 is by Gavin Francis who caught the Vario on the X2, not such a usual occurrence.
Christopher Lowe writes "I have managed to get a photograph of one of the former Stagecoach Oxford Volvo Olympians. I have attached the photo below for you as asked for.
The photo is of 16508 (R508 UWL) which is seen arriving at Stockport Bus Station today (11th March). This vehicle is one of the batch currently allocated to Stockport (Daw Bank) garage and is still painted in the old corporate livery.
The batch is currently divided between Manchester, Hyde Road (16501-5) and Stockport, Daw Bank (16506-13).
Christopher Lowe sent this fine shot of ex Oxford 16508 working a route in Stockport near Manchester.
note that it is still in the old corporate livery and was taken only last week.
Marcus Lapthorn writes "Have just seen 52158 close up for the first time and noticed that unlike 52157 it does not have the special coach logo - 'Relax & Go' etc on the nearside. Indeed it appears that at least two of the nearside panels have been replaced. I do wonder where 52158 has been because one of your correspondents reported that it was at Swindon many months ago. Maybe it was involved in a crash and has been off the road?
The first of the refurbished Volvo B10M's is apparently regularly on the 51 route between Swindon & Cheltenham and I am told it looks splendid!
Today I had the chance to go in to Oxford on 52158 and found it to be a very sluggish beast indeed! I came back on 52157 which by contrast went like the wind!"
The older liveried coach is on the X6 and is 52155. Note that it does not have a rear window.
52158 on the 66 does however have a rear window although seemingly from the same batch.
I also noted 52157 has a rear window as well.
The second picture of 52155 shows it arriving in Gloucester Green on the X6.
Not much to report on the Tube this week but I liked the picture below showing one of our tubes and new Megabus 50132 in London.
Whilst in London this last week, I was able to get some interior pictures of a new Megabus, 50130 being suitably available. I am sure you will find the pictures below of interest revealing as they do, the differences between the Oxford Tubes and these new Megabuses.
note also that 50130 has a Neoplan badge on the front dash panel They also have halogen side lights I believe.
On Friday morning I was interested to find brand new 50132 in London and noticed how the branding is also applied to the roof of these coaches. you can just make it out in the picture below.
Further to the picture of refurbished UJI1761, Christopher Lowe writes "I don't know who has done the refurbishment, or who has provided the parts for the refurb, but Go-Goodwins, Eccles has a similar vehicle (WSV 551) converted in their new red/white/blue livery. If I can I am after a photo of said vehicle here."
Kevin Stevens writes saying "On a personal note could I ask you make the quotes under the photos just a tad bigger? Its an age thing but I really struggle to read them.......
Final point, as yet unconfirmed, the old Neoplan has been taken off the road already, it is going to be repainted white and sold on. It will not be seen again on the road in Tappins colours. More on this later in the week hopefully when I have checked with the body shop.
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."
Within two days I photographed three nearly consecutive TT Darts in Oxford and Reading.
151 waits to work a 39 service to Wallingford last Friday evening in high Street Oxford.
351 waits time on an X40 duty last Wednesday in Reading.
451 on a 144 duty from Reading to Wokingham duty last Wednesday
Jim Lowe writes "I have just been directed to your Oxford-Chilterns bus page by my son Chris. I noticed that you had a couple of photos of the Enviro on demonstration duties.
I went to Oxford 22 February and took two pics of the vehicle. The vehicle was on St Aldate's when seen, with people milling about. There was no destination display when photographed, but as it later pulled away, it was showing route number 103 on the rear. As I don't know the bus services that operate in Oxford, I have no idea who was operating the vehicle at the time.
The vehicle seemed to have been having a little technical difficulty, but the passengers boarded again, and it moved away ok later."
Pictures by Jim Lowe.
Whites of Abingdon
On my way to Reading I came upon this Whites operated service with a Solo en route to Henley on the 145.
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