Issue 12
(OBP-228)

Sunday 15th December 2002

next update week commencing 23rd 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
malcolmhc@aol.com

Sadly, due to business commitments in Amsterdam, I missed the launch of the new Park & Ride service to and from Water Eaton last Tuesday. We have a full report this week gleaned from various sources and also pictures of the first Oxford Bus Citaro which attended the launch but was not in service. It returned to the suppliers for final certification and is expected very shortly.

Oxford United continued their winning run with success over Bristol Rovers - away - gaining a 1-0 win. I am sure that this coming Saturday large numbers of supporters will be attending the home game.


Mid afternoon last Friday sees Oxford Bus 634 loading in St Aldates for another trip to Wood Farm.
The bell tower of Christ Church - Great Tom I think - watches over all framed by the Christmas lights.

The Christmas lights give Oxford a festive atmosphere and the shops have been very busy. This last weekend has been a poor one weather wise and photography has not been easy. I hope you all enjoy this week's offering which include a new contributor, Richard Griffin. The days are now indeed very short and the light is less than kind, even by 3.30pm.

Newman Morgan wrote a very newsy e-mail which I include here in its entirety though it does refer to a number of operators. It especially mentions the many Citaros now entering service or on order in the coming months. There will be quite a few in our area with new ones due for the 74 service into Wycombe.

Newman writes "I was browsing through the Oxford Mail of Wednesday December 11th and observed that the Water Eaton P&R got off to a shaky start. It was due to open 7am on the 10th but potential users could not access the site as workmen were still laying asphalt for a traffic island at the entrance.  The first P&R bus left at 9.30am with 2 passengers on board apparently. (one should nevertheless have sympathy with the contractors as the weather has caused delays which have thwarted council plans to have the site open in time for the Christmas rush. Ed.)


New Oxford Citaro, 822 - MA52OXF - complete with livery.
picture by Chris Maxfield.

Elsewhere the paper reported that SiO has invested 100k in re-launching Rose Hill route 3 in same vein as the recent re-launch of the Blackbird Leys route. The paper reports that the buses "include a new style low-floor offering better legroom and more space for children's buggies." Strange - I thought they were the same buses just being rebranded. The article further reports that the buses may receive names in the future.


A poster on one bus stop in town invites names for the buses.

On the subject of Mercedes Benz Citaros for the Water Eaton Park & Ride, a small batch of similar vehicles is on order for First Beeline Routes 74/5/6, the Heathrow-Slough-Maidenhead/Wycombe services. First of course have 61 of these animals working from their Oldham depot (Greater Manchester).

My December edition of The London Bus from LOTS reports that the first of Stagecoach in London's new MA-class articulated MB Citaro was despatched from Mannheim to Evobus at Coventry in November, arriving in Coventry on 18th November. The 35 vehicles of this order will be allocated to Plumstead garage in South East London and work new LT Route 453 Deptford - Trafalgar Square from 15th February 2003.

Also in build in November were the first of 40 similar articulated Citaro for Go-Ahead company London General/London Central. These will enter service in the new year on Route 436, which I think will run from south London into Marylebone station. These vehicles will have a second side blind display in the trailer section.

I would imagine Mannheim has tooled up for a build of right hand drive vehicles for UK customers and any other outstanding UK orders would likely be built within this production run.

When I used to frequent Strasbourg I often went to another company site in Heidelberg, next door to Mannheim. The penny never dropped with me at the time that the Mercedes plant was in Mannheim! Must be an age thing! Mannheim itself, and neighbouring Ludwigshafen on the opposite bank of the Rhine, were very much tram cities and buses were few and far between in the two city centres. Heidelberg had three tram lines plus the inter urban OEG tram and there is a bus and tram station in Bismarckplatz in the city centre.

My daily morning journey from Bicester to Thame via Oakley sees me pass the Charlton Services ex-OBC Olympian BBW217Y on a daily basis. The vehicle is presumably returning to depot from a school run. It still looks in excellent condition.

I also pass 3 x Heyfordianbus Olympians. One is in school service to Bicester and emerges from Piddington (Oxon not Bucks) and then deviates via Blackthorn. The other two are returning dead to Bicester from Thame school runs. One often has a near side paper windscreen blind showing Chinnor and I think the other journey may show Tetsworth. I guess they are school runs from Chinnor and Tetsworth to the Lord Williams Schools in Thame.

My The London Bus reports that Arriva serving the Shires are expected to take delivery of 25 DAF / Alexander double deckers during December for Garston operated LT Routes 142 and 340. I wonder if these will be delivered with etched upper deck windows from new?

These new vehicles will free up a substantial batch of ageing Olympians that will doubtless find themselves reallocated to places like Wycombe and Aylesbury.

The London Bus reports that travellers have taken up residence in the Old Amersham Car Park that serves as Arriva's Amersham outstation.

Now to history, the winter edition of The London Bus Magazine mentions as part of a multi-part article on London bus garage codes, that between 1922 and 1928 Uxbridge depot, which was actually located in Oxford Road, Denham, Bucks., housed Thames Valley Traction Co. vehicles. TVT apparently ran a number of services from the depot. The article doesn't mention routes or route numbers, just that under London rules the route numbers were prefixed with a 'W'. The routes were not particularly successful and taken over by London General in 1928. In the 30's there was an explosion of housing in the outer reaches of this part of Middlesex and around Denham. The article suggests that had TVT hung on a few more years its routes would have benefitted from the housing build. The Uxbridge area routes of TVT were franchised from London General and ran to LG frequencies and timetables. TVT pulled out December 31st 1928 with LG taking over January 1st 1929.


I have often wondered why, in LT Country Area days of my youth in High Wycombe, the Uxbridge - Wycombe via A40 route was numbered 455 in the South of the River 400 series of numbers whilst the Uxbridge - Wycombe via Chalfonts & Seer Green was numbered 305 in the North of the River 300 series of numbers. Both routes were operated by MA Amersham and HE High Wycombe vehicles (I remember RT's!). All other Wycombe area LT routes were numbered in the 3xx series except the 441 which came from Staines via Windsor and Slough and was worked by ST Staines and WR Windsor garages, although the 365 Hicks Farm circular was originally numbered 442 before being changed to 365 to bring it in to the North of the Thames route numbering series.


Thanks to Newman for those exhaustive notes but much relates to our area in many ways.

Neil Gow wrote mentioning Stratford Blue. He says "Stratford Blue Metrobus 129 was present in Oxford today, shuttling between the city centre and somewhere up the Woodstock Road, displaying "Special Service", but without the inconvenience of having to carry any passengers on the occasions I saw it."  Does anyone have an ideas what was going on?

Paul Green wrote regarding headlights and Arriva. He says "I found your comments regarding Arriva's new headlight policy rather interesting since just three years ago, whilst working for that company in Surrey, I remember a notice informing drivers not to use lights in daylight hours since it drained the vehicles batteries. This was at a time when we were operating Metrobuses cascaded from Kent and London. I currently work for Go Ahead's Brighton & Hove subsidiary where all drivers are issued with disposable cameras to provide evidence in the event of an accident. In addition, most of our buses are now equipped with cameras, including one facing forward to the road ahead. These measures are intended to reduce insurance claims."

This indeed raises some interesting points, especially the one regarding cameras recording the road. There is always a he said, she said situation when incidents happen and I rather like the camera angle. Nevertheless cost is also a factor and I would think installing cameras is an expensive business. What do others think on this whole matter?

I mention again, in case you missed it last week that the national renumbering of the Stagecoach fleet happens shortly 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 http://www.britishbuspublishing.co.uk/index.html  I am sure many of you will want to take advantage of this offer.

Driving around Oxford in recent weeks I have the feeling that there is an increasing number of drivers infringing the traffic rules relating to OTS. So many cars use the bus/taxi only areas I wonder why they are there at all. The area near the Rail Station is often blocked with private cars, drivers seemingly oblivious that they are breaking the law. It is not unusual for cars to think it a one way system and heading towards the Rail Station, use both lanes for their exit causing havoc in the process. The number of cars passing through high Street and ignoring the signs now means that the Carfax area is often jammed up with cars adding to the numbers of buses and taxis. Add to this the amazingly short time the pedestrian crossing lights are green for traffic just by the covered market and long delays are inevitable. I know staff from the council read thios apge and wonder if they might comment.

Added to the foregoing is the continuing parking problems on the Cowley Road where wardens seem powerless to stop the indiscriminate parking on both sides of that road at the city end, especially by Tesco. I wonder why the wardens do little or nothing about it.

Well enough of my ramblings, on to bus related matters and I would again mention the trip on 29th December.


CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY TOUR



Join us on Sunday 29th December
for a tour of our area using
one of the new Oxford Bus Park & Ride Mercedes Benz Citaros.

The tour will include Oxford, Wallingford, High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Bicester. We will also visit some of the smaller operators but we only have 6 hours. There will be a cost which is going to be around 10. If you are interested please let me know by e-mail marked Christmas Tour.

Everyone is very welcome but places limited to 30
a chance to meet friends, old and new.

Send your mail to malcolmhc@aol.com 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 - 12th December 2002

Abbey Coaches, High Wycombe.

Martyn writes "Some news from Abbey Coaches in High Wycombe is that both Leyland Atlantean KPJ262W and Ford R1114/Plaxton Supreme OPR505W have been withdrawn recently due to mechanical failure. The Atlantean may well be repaired early next year but the Ford is due to be scrapped soon. An addition from Blackburn Transport is Volvo-engined National Greenway LFR638W which is entering service tomorrow having been internally retrimmed on it's way from Blackburn. It will be used on school runs, the Asda free bus on Wednesdays and the Sainsbury's free bus on Fridays. Due to the abrupt closure of Beckwith Coaches based at the Airpark, Booker Nr High Wycombe on Friday, school contract route 958 Medmenham - High Wycombe Royal Grammar school has been awarded to Abbey Coaches on an emergency basis to run until Easter. 

Airlinks - Jetlink

A surprise visitor to Oxford's Gloucester Green was caught on camera by new contributor Richard Griffin. As mentioned on this page a few weeks ago, Cambridge Coach Services, now part of Airlinks, maintained a fine fleet of Volvo/Plaxtons in their well known blue and grey livery. RThe early members of this fleet have now be regarbed in National Express white livery for the VCS-Cambridge service. I suppose it was only a matter of time before one of these coaches ventured to Oxford. 304 is seen below.


V304 operates a near midnight service on the 757 last week, seen here in Gloucester Green.

Arriva serving The Shires

Arriva news is limited this week and little has changed at Wycombe. Also I have not been able to get over to Aylesbury in recent weeks.

Nigel Peach keeps us posted and writes "Mon 9th: Volvo B6  3126 branded for the 74 route was on the pits and in its place I saw SLF Dart 3822 leaving the bus station on this route.

In my note last week about the Alexander bodied Volvo B6 which has been at the back of the bus station for some weeks, I omitted its number - sorry! It
is 3244 & was still there on Mon 9th.


Seen today, Sunday the 15th, still where Nigel saw 3244.

Steve Warwick wrote "Have spent Wednesday & Thursday on loan to Newlands, Went to Uxbridge on 300, and 74 to Heathrow with 3126. None of the Volvo B6's seem to have the blinds working all with bits of paper on the windscreens. 

Watford are to get twelve new Dennis Tridents for the 142 TfL Contract they have won."


Sunday also saw Dart SLF working the 329 from Reading, seen here in Marlow.

Graeme writes "I have just one unusual working to report this week. Dennis Dart SLF 3821 (I think) was on 08:10 372 departure from Chesham on Thursday morning. These are not normally found here; they are usually used on the 303s, as you know.

An interesting point is that Greenways 3305 (JIL 2195),3048 (BAZ 6869) and 3057 (TIB 4886) have all been sighted on the 331/2 Wycombe to Thame routes this week (this information was given to me by Michael Wootten- thanks for the info).

Carousel Bus, High Wycombe.

A visit to the depot today revealed a hired Leyland Titan from Sullivan buses, A914SYE. It carried a proper notice stating the hire.


The hired Titan seen flanked by Metrobuses and an ex Arriva Lynx, LX559.

I am also advised by Steve Warwick that "Carousel Buses at Wycombe have taken delivery of at least one of their Leyland Olympians ex Armchair H563GKX, and I also saw a Greenway running about as well think it belongs to Carousel as well it was on route 2."

Can anyone update the situation at Carousel, especially in respect to the Olympians?

City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.

This last week saw the launch of services to the newly opened Water Eaton Park & Ride. Indeed the company has a new web site for Park & Ride and also a new brochure for use on the buses. The link tto the new site is http://www.parkandride.net. I must say I think this is an excellent site (not my work) and has a great potential for other cities and towns throughout the UK. Let me know your comments.

The new buses, are as known somewhat delayed in delivery but Evobus managed to get one to Oxford, albeit on trade plates, for the launch. It is pictured below and I am grateful to Chris Maxfield for these pictures.

The full batch are to be 822-828 : MA-MF52OXF.


Mercedes Benz Citaro 822 seen from the offside.& rear showing the impressive branding..


Mercedes Benz Citaro 822 has an interior which uses the now familiar dreaming spires seat covering.

Trident 116 has also been fitted with a Hannover display and Dart 505 spent most of Friday on the 500 to Water Eaton.


Olympian 214 was delicenced after service on Friday evening last. Its final service was a 13B to the city at 2030hrs.


Saturday evening sees Olympian 224 on the 22 and now correctly displaying the Gypsy Lane destination.


Loaned Dart 411 now in service on the 500 to Water Eaton pending delivery of the new Citaros.


Volvo B10B 635 standing in for a Trident on the 400 from Thornhill to Seacourt.
Thornhill now boasts 960 parking spaces giving with Water Eaton 4550 spaces in
Oxford's Park & Ride sites. I think this makes Oxford the largest in the UK?????
Indeed the total Park & Ride fleet is now 23 buses offering 1500 seats total.


804 shows off its new destination equipment. These blinds really do show up, especially on dark evenings.

Leon Wells wrote with some sightings :

Tuesday: Volvo B10BLE 821 was used on 6B card as i had it for two trips on 6/6B's it went on to do late 6/6A and Circles!!!

Thursday: Volvo 658 on 22A card (usually DD) and 636 on 15Z card.

Friday: Dart 505 on 500C card to replace 412 which broke down in the morning!!

Neil Gow wrote on sightings last week :
 

221 was out today displaying "22  Harcourt Hill via City Centre".  101 was also running on the 22 with its electronic display also accurate.

The Water Eaton service was being run by MB Citaro demonstrator 851, red Trident 102 and hired Dennis Darts 411 and 413.

Olympian 208 is presently on loan to Thames Travel and can often be seen in Oxford.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford 

A further detail of the rebranding of routes in Oxford is the use of coloured portions to the destination display. This is shown below. The Blackbird Leys route uses orange and the 3 uses pink.

News from correspondents reveals the following.

Keith Wood writes "Repaints into New Livery of Darts continue rapidly with Nuneaton's 104 & 111 both in service yesterday. Rugby's 103 is back in service in New as well. Only Nuneaton's 101 / 105 now remain. Despite my reports of Merc 372 stripped down and ready for a new coat it was in service yesterday still in stripes ! My mistake.

The New Solos in Warwickshire county Council Livery Green with "CHAT" branding and based at
Nuneaton are as follows.

616 YG 52 DHM
617 YG 52 DFY
618 YG 52 DFZ

They are M920's !!!!! Please note not M850's and are B31F !

Virgin Red coach 12 has left Nuneaton depot whilst ex Chiltern coach 10 (498FYB - L155LBW) originally with Oxford is being used as a Trainer at Rugby depot.

Richard Sharman writes "I spent Sunday in Oxford and found the following-

Vehicle types are now to be allocated to groups of routes-

BICESTER,27's etc:ALL DECKERS, there is word of Tridents as well as the all ready present V.Olympians.

CHIPPING NORTON: Not yet decided but may get B10MS.

WITNEY: To retain current mix

WANTAGE AREA, 31's etc: ALL B10MS, four from Swindon have arrived for this purpose, P318 EFL,P820 GNC,P822 FVU+1?

OXFORD :: 1/3/7A- All route branded MAN/ALX300's,   City Circle 10's- All Darts
Meanwhile 500/4-C960/4XVC are in new livery, 5 unknown Darts will go this week.

Jim Wright advises that the following Volvo B10M/Alexander PS have been transferred to Oxford.

5.12.02    412-P319EFL - ex Swindon
6.12.02    422-P822FVU - ex Swindon
9.12.02    420-P820GNC - ex Gloucester

These will replace Darts at Harwell.

Finally Paul Dudfield writes "The South West Buses Yahoo Group reports that Stagecoach Devon is expecting 7 Darts from Oxford. These will be converted to single door before delivery."


On Saturday I seemed to see several Tubes running in pairs.
Here we see 42 preceding 43 inbound from London at Risinghurst.


New bus stops have appeared as a result of rebranding of Stagecoach services in Oxford.

HISTORICAL REFERENCES.

Brian Matthews again supplied some historical photos which I am sure you will find most interesting.

 He says "Two photographs from Gloucester Green in 1983...........Leyland Tiger EBW 103Y (f/n 103) branded for the 190 service........................and Bristol VR  AUD 461R  (f/n 461) pretending to be a Tiger (just stare hard at the lower deck only and the illusion really does work)   -    the advert flash poses the question that, 19 years later, can those 190 drivers still....?? 

PHOTO CORNER
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at 
malcolmhc@aol.com

click here to see a close up of this coach click here to see a close up of this coach click here to see a close up of this coach
Collins of Hanwell came to Wycombe in force today. If you pass your mouse over the picture
and click on the hotspots you can see a close up of each coach.
Let me know what you think of this idea?

I welcome your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
malcolmhc@aol.com

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