Sunday 13th July 2003
next update week ending 26th July 2003
Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute
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It seems quite a while since I sat down t0o write the "weekly" News Page, especially after my two weeks with London General and Olympian NV185. As they say, "all good things come to an end" and it was with some happy thoughts that I returned NV185 to Sutton Garage just about one week ago. Since then three days in Amsterdam (I took Monday last as a days holiday) in the real world was followed by a couple of duties on Oxford Bus which included a trip to Gatwick with new Scania 41 which carries the registration from the old nr 1 (R1OXF)
41 poses outside Gatwick's North Terminal prior to working the 2215 service to Oxford.
For some reason "The Airline" logo is missing off this particular coach
These new Scania coaches are extremely pleasant coaches to drive. The air conditioning is most effective, especially good in view of the recent very high temperatures. There is even a small fridge at the front which one can store a coke for subsequent use at the terminal. On the motorways they are exceptionally quiet and smooth running and Stokenchurch hill, en route from Oxford, is climbed with consummate ease.
As it is two weeks since I prepared a page there have been numerous emails from many of you and this week promises to be a bumper page. Developments in High Wycombe are significant with new operators appearing in the shape of Red Rose on the 275 and, as you will see, further down this page Thames Valley rides again.
Red Rose's new Optare Solo M920, a 30 seat 9.2m version - RR03BUS working the 9.15 service
through Stokenchurch to High Wycombe last Friday. Interestingly it connects with an Arriva 340
to Cadmore End and a Bucks County Council Solo service to Marlow.
Branding has also gained pace with Stagecoach in Oxfordshire now branding route 10 and Arriva in Wycombe branding the 33 as a red route. Of course this does theoretically limit the use of such branded buses but already the Red Route branded buses in Wycombe have appeared on other routes !!
Oxford Bus have announced their Football services for the 2003-2004 season and a new route 603, giving a fast service from Kidlington has been introduced. Also two Park & Ride locations are now served with the 602 starting from Water Eaton.
On several days recently problems with traffic in London and on the M25 and M40 motorways has played havoc with the schedules of the two express operators from Oxford and I believe that the controllers of both companies have managed extremely well to maintain services under great pressure. Demand on the London and airport routes has been very high and coaches have been running very full. The London services now enjoy a 12 minute frequency from both operators at peak times and this makes this route the most heavily served of any express route worldwide.
Talk is again featured in the local Oxford press of a move of Oxford Rail Station to the Oxpens with a full bus interchange. One waits to see developments with interest.
For those of you
with a good historical knowledge of Oxford bus services Mac H asks an
interesting question. He says "Have
spent many fascinating hours reading your Oxford Bus Page subsequently
and Chilterns, and wonder if you may be able to provide me with some
information that unfortunately your archives do not extend back to. I
to add just basic information not in-depth!
I am a sub editor of 'Bus Fare', a monthly magazine produced on behalf of the British Trolleybus Society (formerly Reading Trolleybus Society), all profits from which go to the Society.
From its conception many years ago Bus Fare has centered on bus operators who provide(d) services within the Reading area, hence my continuing interest in COMS (and other current Oxford/High Wycombe operators) with whom, other than a few very old ABC editions and the like, I have little historic knowledge.
Bus Fare is approaching its 400th edition (yes, 38 years plus) and I am considering producing a special edition centering on this figure.
I am aware of the use of by COMS of this fleet number on two vehicles. The first was an AEC Regent III, OFC400 with a Weymann H30/26R body delivered 10.49 followed by a Daimler Fleetline TFC400K carrying an Alexander H43/27D N type body arriving 08.71.
Would you, (or perhaps you know of someone?), be able to provide me with basic details, typically, the type of services these vehicle ran on, city, town, rural etc., possibly the garage(s) allocated to, dates of withdrawal and were they likely to have been used on services into Reading. Any individual unusual features, occasions relevant to these vehicles would be very useful.
In passing may I mention that I am fully acquainted with the much more recent service 400s Houses of Watlington, Oxford Park and Ride and Carousel Buses.
Keep up the great internet work"
Thank to Mac H for the
kind comment and I wonder if anyone can plumb their memories and answer this
A small point of interest centres around the bridge over the M40 cutting at Stokenchurch leading to Christmas Common and which has a 7.5 ton weight limit. recently coaches have been bringing school children to these woods for nature studies and I wonder how they reach these woods. To approach from the side missing out the bridge requires along detour through Watlington and I do hope these coaches are not using the bridge to avoid said detour. The other day there were two coaches at the parking area both carrying 50 children. If they had gone across that bridge together the total weight would have around 30 tons. The consequences of this breach of weight limits, if they were breached, cannot be doing this bridge much good. Or maybe the weight limits are not applicable to coaches? Whilst I do not think it is correct for me to mention the coach companies involved, both companies in question have been mentioned in these pages.
The sign clearly says Weak Bridge - 7.5T mgw
(sorry about the picture quality - the wife was driving!)
Well, I hope you all enjoy this week's page and I look forward to your responses and also your contributions for the coming week's pages. Many thanks also to all those who contributed to this week's page and to those whose items I have not yet used, I will need items for the future so your efforts are not wasted.
Malcolm Crowe, July 13th 2003.
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News of the local companies – 13th July 2003
Nigel Peach has been prolific this last week and has sent much useful infomration. He writes "An interesting sight in Wycombe bus station on Friday 4th was Arriva open top Leyland Atlantean 5301 JHK 495N.
Olympian 5120 is the fourth such to appear in Wycombe. It was parked near the
exit today. That and 5133 have been repainted and look smart. 5124 and 5132 (the
first two to arrive) have not been so treated yet.
Most of the ex Oxford Alexander bodied Olympians are still working away.
SLF Dart 3823 (the one transferred to Aylesbury) paid a visit to Wycombe today on the 232.
The 303 has been renumbered 33, though for some of the buses on the route today that caused a problem. One was DW Dart 3812 - its blind cannot cope with out of the ordinary! Volvo B6 3138 had a note in the windscreen while displaying a totally different number. SLF Dart 3824 has always had a smaller middle digit which looks much more ridiculous displaying 33 rather than 303. These buses cannot now display correct rear blinds.
Have I missed something? I don't understand the point of changing the route to 33. I know that until the early 80s the old 33 ran part of this current route, but to me, it seems an upheaval that has little logic to it. Are they thinking of making the Reading route 28 again, or the 40 to Radnage? No doubt somebody can explain!
Further to my
note about new route 33, buses are now being branded for this "red route".
So far (Thurs 10th), I have seen SLF Darts 3824 and 3826 with
I meant to add about SLF Dart 3826, branded for Red Route 33 which shows its route and stopping points, when I saw it Thurs evening it was in Loudwater........ on evening route 315. Will passengers get confused?
Today (Friday 11th) I saw its sister Dart 3827 without any decals at all. Presumably in readiness for similar branding.
I was then surprised to see Volvo B6 3115 on London Road also without any decals (& it's also lost its allover rear ad). I wouldn't think this would be branded for the 33. Maybe another route is to receive route branding?
Newman Morgan also wrote at length
about the 33 and other routes related. He says "With
the recent interesting notes and comments over Arriva serving Themselves
re-numbering the 303 in Wycombe to 33, I am just wondering how many people
remember] Route 33A.
My earliest recollections of the Service 33 (Thames Valley always used the word Service and London Transport Country Area always used the word Route) was from Newlands Car Park (not the multi-storey!) to Desborough Castle. The open air Newlands car park was situated approximately on the site of the present Bus Station. If you imagine coming town centre bound along Desborough Road, you pass Bridge Street on the left, then the Rose & Crown pub. Next to it was Bejams freezer store (later to become Iceland). There used to be a request stop here, as there is still today opposite outside the Job Centre. Follow the road round to the pub next to the Bus Station (can't remember its name!), carry on a short distance in front of the present day Tesco (in those days Tesco was where the Litten Tree in Frogmoor is!). This is where the 33 would swing round in the road and lay up at a stop with a LT-type shelter on the road in front of the open air Newlands car park. Later the service was moved to the lay-by in Union Street outside the now gone Stewart & Arnold factory and later on still it was moved to Denmark Street, in front of another pub whose name I cannot remember but is now gone I think! Used to get served in there at 15 years of age. Whoops. Think it was the White Rose.
To digress a little the Thames Valley 26 and 26A and London Transport 326 also travelled into town along Desborough Road but they carried on past Newlands car park to stop at The Bull in White Hart Street by Bull Lane. The Bull is now the Laura Ashley shop or maybe it is now a book store. It is the building opposite the Lloyds TSB Bank that used to be the TSB Bank! Incidentally, this was the site of Murray's, Wycombe's own department store who used to send money from till to cash office through the tube system. Those were the days!
Anyway, Service 33 would trundle out of Newlands and along Desborough Road all the way to the Half Moon on Dashwood Avenue. No traffic lights! The 33 turned left up the short sharp hill and then right into Rutland Avenue. The Bristol L's and LWL's would chug up the steep hill on Rutland Avenue, past what I think was the earthmound site of the one time Desborough Castle, and carry on along Rutland Avenue to turn right into Cross Road by the School. The 33 returned to town along the whole length of Spearing Road to rejoin Rutland Avenue at the top of the hill.
Frequency was every 7/8 minutes throughout the day, except between around 9am and mid-day on Mondays to Fridays the service reduced to every 10 minutes. Evening buses were every 15 minutes with the last one at 10.45pm. I used to use it to the Half Moon if I had missed the 10.30pm Service 38 or 10.36pm Service 42 to Sands Hour Glass where I used to live for 28 years (not in the pub!). Sunday service was I think every 20 or 30 mins in the mornings and building up to every 15 mins during the afternoons but I would need to verify that.
The 33A was a double decker service (usually KSWs but sometimes even FLFs) that ran hourly from Union Street (hadn't been introduced at the time of the 33 using Newlands) to Chairborough Road. The 33A followed the route of the 33 to the Half Moon, turned left like 33 and up the short steep hill. The 33A carried on into what I think is known as Whitelands Way or Whitelands Road. This road became very steep towards its top end and the 33A did a left into a short side road and dropped down into Chairborough Road to stand. This would be just below the Jolly Bodger pub but I don't think the pub was built. It may have been. The 33A returned down Chairborough Road did a left and right into Whitelands Road or whatever it is called and then dropped down to the Half Moon.
The 33A was quite well used and after Chairborough Road was built right through to Rutland Avenue, and new local authority housing built there, the 33 was revised into the circular route that still exists as 303. When this new circular route was introduced it was quite normal to see well laden Bristol FLFs trudling around on a 10 minute service frequency.
I have thoughts that some 33's may have continued through to Castle Street in the early morning via Queens Square in order for passengers to take the early 'workmens' trains to Marylebone.
To turn to the Totteridge end of the 303, or new 33, this was of course a London Transport County Area route. I don't remember RTs on the route but I do remember RMLs from HE (High Wycombe) depot which was of course at the bottom of Marlow Hill. The depot is now the Staples office supplies shop. Another quirk was that London Transport always had Garages and never had Depots. The LT Route number was of course 363 with a 12 minute frequency from Totteridge to town continuing hourly to Penn and for a time Beaconsfield with a couple journeys even going on to Holtspur. The route of the 363 was different between town centre and Bowerdean Cross Roads to that used by the present 303 / 33. One bus an hour would descend Amersham Hill from Penn, stopping at the stop outside Wycombe Station on Crendon Street and then dropping down to another stop just a little way down Easton Street. Up to another four buses per hour would leave HE Garage, which was a boarding and alighting point and then pick up in Easton Street. I believe these journeys also stopped outside the Town Hall, as did the 362, 362A etc., but when the one way system was introduced this was stopped for safety reasons of pulling across two lanes of traffic. Incoming buses also dropped off in Easton Street and then went right to Crendon Street or left to the LT Garage prior to the one way system.
From Easton Street the 363 travelled down London Road to the Cricket Ground and then did a left into Gordon Road. Gordon Road was well served in those days and one could catch a bus from either side of the road to town! The 26 and 326 travelled up Gordon Road coming from Wycombe Marsh when to going into town. The 363 went along Gordon Road to the Morning Star and did a right turn into Totteridge Road.
The Morning Star, or Bowerdean Cross Roads, was an awkward place to catch a bus. There was a stop on Totteridge Road for Totteridge bound 363's, a stop on Gordon Road for Wycombe/Penn bound 363's, for Micklefield bound 326's and for Wycombe Marsh bound 26's. There was a stop on Bowerdean Road opposite the pub for Bowerdean bound 326's and 26A's and there was finally a stop on Totteridge Road on the town centre side of the cross roads for Wycombe / Sands bound 326's and 26 and 26A's. Locals either hovered in between stops or waited at the 326 stop only to rush along to Gordon Road when a 363 descended Totteridge Road when going to town.
I seem to remember that after the RML's London Transport and possibly London Country used MBS's and/or SMS's on the 363, the high capacity dual door AEC Swifts. Wycombe's RMLs were used on the 326 and 363 and occasionally deputised for a Staines or Windsor RML on the 441 in the event of a failure. The RMLs were also known to perform Green Line 711 Reliefs to Oxford Circus. They occasionally appeared on other routes and I once remember seeing one turning at the bottom of Chorley Road, West Wycombe on a Route 455 High Wycombe-West Wycombe short working.
I believe the RML running numbers were HE 1 to HE 6 on the 363 and HE 21 to 23 and HE26 on the 326. HE 201 was used for 711 Reliefs. I cannot remember the Thames Valley running numbers for the 33, but in the mid-60s the two Wycombe garages used nos.
1 to 41 for double deckers, 51 - 70 for crew operated single deckers and 81 - 85 for one man single deckers, the one man buses worked exclusively the Chinnor 32's, the Speen 34's and the Aylesbury via Hampden, Risborough, Longwick, Meadle and most of the rest of Buckinghamshire 80's. The 80 was a nice ride if you had all morning to get to Aylesbury - and all afternoon to get back again!!
I am sure that maybe Ed Maun would remember bits I haven't and Nigel Peach will be able to add to the above. Nigel and I were mates at High Wycombe RGS."
Thanks to Newman for those most interesting notes.
Ed Maun adds to comments "I was in Aylesbury today (Wednesday 9/7) and observed the following:-
Olympian 5097 still in full Aylesbury and The Vale livery operating service 66.
Dart 3484 operating Red Route 9. This Dart does not have the route branding!
Greenway 3054 operating service 54 to Halton.
BCC Optare Solo 0449 operating service 4.
Bucks County Council has published a new edition of their Area 6 Local Transport Guide which covers the Princes Risborough, Saunderton and Stokenchurch area – second edition from 7 July 2003. It includes the Risborough and Stokenchurch area changes from that date.
Arriva Stokenchurch area
With reference to Bus Page issue 35, the service number 341 is still in use but for one journey only. It would appear that in general the Ibstone journeys go via Studley Green as service 342 whereas the Radnage journeys go via Wheeler End as service 340; the one exception is the 1740 Mon – Fri ex High Wycombe to Ibstone which goes via Wheeler End and hence uses service number 341.
Arriva Risborough area
The new 232 service High Wycombe to Thame via Princes Risborough operates about every 2 hours and does not generally effect the Carousel/Z&S 321 as the timings on the respective services sensibly alternate in the main.
Steve Warwick writes
On a quick visit to Wycombe yesterday, noticed that Olympian 5120 (G290 UMJ) has arrived from Ware.
The SLF Darts are now appearing in their Red Route 33 branding noticed 3825 last night on 315's. 3178 (P178 SRO) is away for repaint to receive Red Route branding.
Volvo B6 3137 is repaired and now back on the road, 5114 passed it's MOT but now is awaiting a new engine.
3825 shows off its new branding today, Sunday on route 33.
Two more regulars write. Graeme Wilson saying
former COMS Olympians in Wycombe are nearing the end; spotted 5133 (H203GRO) on
372 Wednesday afternoon. Sister 5132 has also been noted on this
When the COMS buses leave, only 5108 (F506 OYW), which has been in Wycombe ever since it was bought by The Shires, remains as unique in having a Leyland engine; the ex-Ware examples are Cummins-powered for the hills.
At Luton, VR 5038 (SNV 938W) has been withdrawn and presumably sold.
The surviving ECW-bodied Olympians at Luton depot, to my knowledge, are as follows:
The surviving VRs are as follows:
I believe the VRs have been painted in yellow schools livery.
Ben Wilson saying "I've been on the ensign sales site and 5 ex Watford Leyland Olympians were up for sale. I think they are the remaining Olympians are still at Watford but could be from ware garage
Recently arrived 5133 looks very spruce.
Ex Oxford Olympian 5829 runs round at Stokenchurch notably lacking destination displays.
It was working a 340 service last Monday. This bus once carried Thames Valley livery.
The fleet name has been cleverly adapted to show Carousel.
I am told that fleet number D56 is to be applied in black. The lining out is also delicious.
Another surprise was a further Metrobus in the workshops having rear end treatment
prior to entering service. This is M1272.
Ed Maun writes
Carousel Risborough area
321 continues unchanged apart from the 1710 departure from High Wycombe which ceases after 25 July as there is an Arriva 232 departure at 1715.
Oxford Bus have kindly provided the latest fleet list which also includes the four Darts on loan from Metrobus for the launch of the new route 14.
Oxford fleet list 1/7/03
The new Citaros on order for end of year delivery will replace these and maybe the remaining Marshall bodied Darts. It also seems that the Olympians may be nearing the end of their days.
News on the coach front is that all the remaining airport branded Volvo B10Ms are now carrying X90 livery. That is 20, 23 and 25 just completed to join 18, 19, 21, 22 and 24. Coach 5 has been reinstated for the summer holidays to provide extra capacity.
All the Scania/Irizars are now in service giving a full fleet strength.
No decision has yet been reached regarding 26 which is in The Airline livery but is nominally an X90 coach.
Coach 5 has been reinstated for the summer
Coach 25 is now in X90 livery.
Metrobus loaned Dart/Marshall 502 is back in service at Oxford albeit in Metrobus livery. It is on route 14.
The founder of The Oxford Bus Page, David root took this shot of coach 9 in Park Lane recently.
Oxford Bus has announced its schedules for the Football services this winter and a revision to the routes has taken place. The 602 now starts from Water Eaton and serves the Banbury road, Summertown and through to Headington, whilst new route 603 offers supporters from Kidlington a fast service via the by-pass to Kassam with its last stop at Five Mile Drive.
Work continues on Volvo 606 presently having a major bodywork refit and seemingly to receive new seats and other internal fitments.
Michael Wadman sent this picture of Heyfordian operating a town service in Wantage.
Their MB 811D N605JGP has bodywork by Crystals of Dartford, its former operator, whose turquoise livery it retains.
Last Saturday (28th June) I visited Reading, and I thought you might be interested in this photo taken at Reading
It is of Motts’ MB 711D Plaxton M971CVG outside Reading station about to depart on service M1 to Stokenchurch.
Photo and story by Michael Wadman.
The new National Express image is now appearing on many more coaches.
Ex Jetlink DAF/Plaxton D308 shows off its new livery on a 757 working at High Wycombe.
Red Rose, Aylesbury.
As mentioned in a previous news page, Red rose are now operating the 275 service with Oxfordshire County support. The service started on July 7th.
On the first day the new bus specially purchased for the service, RR03BUS, a Solo 920, leaves
Stokenchurch on the 1305 service to Oxford.
The interior is very pleasant indeed and will offer a comfortable trip for passengers
David Whitley, Marketing Manager of the company has asked for the latest attached fleet list (period 3 - June 2003) to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click on the Stagecoach logo to view. (you will need to rotate one of the pages to view)
Route 10 is now up and running with its branded buses, Darts 32051-32054 and 32061 and 32062.
Here 32054 runs down High Street , Oxford, showing off its new branding.
The rear branding is very informative. This is 32061.
M A N 22925 shows off its rear branding as it turns into Worcester St. last Saturday.
Stagecoach have been awarded the new Brookes University contract and will gain several new buses as a result. Route numbers will be U1, U2 and U3.
More details will be given as they become available.
Tappins of Didcot.
Ralph Adams writes "G951/963FVX, numbers 53 and 54, have now been reregistered as MUI7853/7854. Another of the Green buses has the front top half only now painted red. Not sure which one as I did not have a pen with me."
Most open top buses are now being painted fully or in part to reflect the new City Sightseeing image.
Here 928 has partial branding for the new image.
The oldest bus in town gets a new coat of paint. BFS14L, along serving tour bus has the new livery.
All four ex Dublin open toppers have now received their new registrations. MUI7851-7854 are the batch.
Ralph Adams writes "Thames Travel have various changes. Taxibus 103 to 2 hourly frequency with new Taxibus 104 covering different locations also 2 hourly. Also new commuter service 110 to Thame to connect with Chiltern Trains."
Michael Wadman again, he says "I think that this is the first year in which the
X47/X48 Reading – Swindon services have operated on a Saturday.
Weavaway Travel of Newbury’s Solo YN03NEF is at Reading station about to depart for Swindon,
displaying its “Newbury & District” fleetnames – nice to see an old name from the past revived.
The two vehicles on the X47/X48 cross at Wantage where there are connections by Stagecoach to and from Oxford. Unfortunately the light wasn’t ideal which is why a distorted King Alfred the Great is reflected in the side windows of sister YN03NCF, heading for Reading.
Whites of Abingdon
Several of my readers have reported that Whites have gained the 108 service, long in the hands of
Charlton Services. To operate the route a new Solo 850 has been purchased, GX03CCJ.
Z & S, Aylesbury
Ed Maun writes
Z&S Risborough area
Z&S now run a service 322 between Princes Risborough and High Wycombe which routes via Marlow Hill schools – it runs on non school days as well as school days. There is one journey to HW in the morning and one to PR in the afternoon. The vehicle used is the one used on the off peak 321 service (which continues unchanged). I don’t know when this service started but as far as I am aware it has only just appeared in the timetable! It has certainly run for a while as I have often seen the “321” vehicle heading back into Risborough at about the right time with 322 on the blind - at least since proper blinds were fitted to both the Dart and the Mercedes used. Incidentally, unless my eyes are deceiving me, Wycombe is spelt without the “e” on the blinds!
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