Issue 73
(OBP-289)

Sunday 18th April 2004
next update week ending 1st May 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.

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

I must of course apologise of the last two weeks when no update was published. This has been due to a combination of circumstances mainly affected by a trapped nerve in my neck which has needed several visits to the Osteopath. however things are now on the mend and hopefully I can get back to normal.

Much has been happening in our area and the industry in general and in some ways it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps following on from the last news page I should note that all the OBC Citaros returned to service after a week or so out of use. During this time modifications were made by Mercedes Benz and hopefully the problems are behind the buses now. The reaction of MB was commendable and one wishes them success for the future.

On the manufacturers front another problem beset the industry when Transbus was placed in Administrative Receivership some two weeks ago and it is suggested that there may be a Management buyout of the old Plaxton side of the business. It will be interesting to see how things develop but it does mean that most of the old bus building companies are in danger for the future. This includes Dennis, Alexander's, Northern Counties and Plaxton's. Deliveries appear to continue but developments will be watched with interest.

Also of interest locally is what will happen on the Gloucester Green situation following Stagecoach trialling the 135metre Neoplan coaches which presently would cause some operating difficulties in GG unless significant changes are made. As mentioned earlier some major safety improvements have been made to include barriers, gates and a pedestrian crossing in Chain Alley.


Some yellow markers have appeared above the barriers in front of the passenger waiting areas at VCS.

Easter showed how busy GG gets in peak times and new regulations regarding the use of the layover bays and waiting times are all being applied as I write this page. Certainly there is no way that one could see 13.5 metre coaches using GG unless some substantial changes were to be made. I would however stress that this is a personal point of view and people and authorities far more experienced than I have to resolve this problem. One thing is certain and that is that not only Stagecoach will want use longer coaches in the future and so the problem has to be finalised.

The above mentioned temporary withdrawal of many UK registered Citaros had some interesting effects on services and certainly unusual workings were reported especially in London. I think it may be that some brand new Transbus Tridents due to the 100 service to Witney did see service in London but I have not seen this confirmed.

Water Eaton still seems under utilised although offering superb facilities. Peartree is only a very short distance away and is often very crowded. One wonders why the new site is not more popular?


An exterior view of the new facility at Water Eaton.


The interior of the new facility with the passenger waiting area.

Nigel Peach writes "Some of your readers might be interested to know that in this week's Bucks Free Press (April 9th) on Page 8 there is an old photo of High Wycombe High Street in which at least 6 buses are visible on a busy market day. The three buses in the foreground are all identifiable: Bristol LWL6Bs 616 and 618 GJB256/8 and KSW6B 695 HMO841. Each of these buses were based in Wycombe for many years - perhaps all their working lives. I could be a real anorak and bore you with a bit more about each bus, as they were around when I was a child bus spotter and had a far better memory than I do now! There is also a K6B in the picture but the registration number is obscured. The photo was probably taken in the late 50s - it was before white fleet numbers appeared on the front of the buses and when D/Ds still had an upper cream relief band below the upper deck windows".

I have scanned a copy of this picture for readers interest and acknowledge the bucks Free Press for this picture. The paper did not give any photographers name to credit.


The picture of central High Wycombe mentioned above by Nigel. - Credit Bucks Free Press.

Adrian Lancer writes "Seen at Cobham a Sunday ago were: 191AWL, displaying blinds for route 54 to Witney, with COMS legal lettering and Stagecoach South Midlands 20201. More pics are at http://www.adrianlancerstransportphotos.fotopic.net "

Geoff Cunliffe from Lytham St.Annes and a regular visitor to Oxford and contributor to this page writes "Just had my annual day in Edinburgh. Whilst I was there, I spotted Lothian 301, E301 MSG, which saw service in Oxford until 18 months(?) ago and which became 'lost' although it was later reported that it had returned home. Indeed, here is the proof, pictured on Princes Street, wearing Guide Friday branding for The Edinburgh Tour, and looking very smart. In case anyone has forgotten, it is a Leyland ONCL10/2RZ with an Alexander RH body converted to full open top single doorway configuration.

It was nice to visit a location where Leylands are still operated! Less welcome was the sight of one of the open top Mac Tours ERM Routemasters fitted with a set of the most recent type of Transbus rear lights!"

Ian wrote to me to say that "If you want to join another Bus Group and post pictures and messages, take a look at -
http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/oxfordshirebusgroup/


Ralph Adams noted that "Traffic in the Abingdon Road seemed to be in major difficulties tonight (7th April), probably as a result of the replacement of the worn out road.

A Thames Travel Vario did a U Turn in St Aldates to save time (including a slight reversal as the road was not wide enough)

Apart from difficulty going out, 2 X13 were together at Redbridge (coming in to the City via Touchwoods, not past the front of Redbridge), plus an X3 a couple of minutes later coming to the City via Kennington. First time I have seen a Citaro in Kennington, passing a Trident going the opposite way, so 2 low floors at the same time."

Tangy Tango writes "Some of the observations I made whilst travelling to Oxford on Megabus M40 last Thursday:

My Megabus was 13604 (331HWD) "Balliol" I also saw the other Megabus on this day was "Magdalen"

I also saw R12OXF still in the old X90 livery on the M40 and at Thornhill I spotted Citaro 825 working on route 400.

Could of spotted a lot more coach stuff on the motorway but the fleet numbers were too small!!!!!!

On my way back on Easter Monday, the 1700 B'ham Megabus duty from Snow Hill was worked by Leamington's Olympian 16616, a nice surprise If I do say so myself! How popular is Megabus becoming these days, the 1700 ex Snow Hill, which I got on, was over 3/4 full!!!!!"

Bus Monkey wrote regarding new models saying "CMNL have announced two new liveries for their open top Dennis Trident /
Plaxton President casting:
One for City Sightseeing Dublin and the other City Sightseeing Oxford. The Oxford version is expected around August.

As City Sightseeing don't currently have any Tridents in Oxford, I wonder if are they expecting some for this season......

Ooh-Ooh Ah-Ah-Ah"

Don't you just love the handles some people use?

Well, now on to the reports for our area. Your contributions continue and I am pleased to receive them each week. My thanks to everyone who sent information.

Malcolm Crowe, 18th April 2004.

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News of the local companies 17th April 2004

Steve Warwick sent in an excellent set of reports for the past two weeks.

Mon 29th March 

Dennis Lance/Wright Pathfinder 3378 (M268 VPU) has arrived from Luton, so all three Lance's are now here. Dennis Dart/Plaxton 3355 (K405FHJ) has also arrived from Stevenage 

Tues 30th March

3378 & 3355 both out on the road today 3378 on 61s and 3355 on 323s. Ex Wycombe Bus London Dart 3812 has been parked at back of the yard for a week awaiting repair.

Wed 31st March

The two new automatic Alero's for the Silver Rider have arrived today there are, YN04LXH & YN04LXG

At long last the last remaining blue/yellow Olympian 5097 is going for refurbishment and repaint on Friday. It is also having a manual roller blind put in tomorrow as the digital one it has got has not been working for the last three months and been going round with the statuary paper number.

Thur 1st April

The third and final automatic Optare/Alero arrived today reg YN04LXF.

Scania 3165 worked the 13.20 & 14.00 9 service today. Also Hemel had Volvo/Palatine 5152 on their 500 service.

Fri 2nd April

The three auto Optare/Alero's have been given fleet numbers as follows:

0454 - YN04LXF
0455 - YN04LXG
0456 - YN04LXH
 

0454 & 0456 were both working the Silver Rider today. 

Olympian 5097 finally left for painting this afternoon. Oxford Volvo Olympian 5159 (S159KNK) has gone to Leicester for refurbishment and painting, following accident damage. 5160 (S160KNK) & 5161 (S161KNK) are to follow on Sunday. 

So the 280 service will see a few Leyland Olympians for a while. (see photos below  and also ex COMS/WBC 5828 worked the 280 last week. Ed.)

Sat 3rd Apr

Wycombe have got a Volvo/Wright Eclipse Demonstrator on loan from Volvo's. Have taken a photo today but I'm afraid it's not all that good.


The demonstrator mentioned by Steve as his photo shows.

Wed 7th Apr

All three of the new Optare/Alero's are off the road with various problems, doors not operating, making unhealthy noises etc. They seem not quite up to  the job.  

Fri 9th Apr

Another Volvo B6 is arriving from Luton on loan as we are short of vehicles with the three 'Oxford' Volvos away.

Sat 10th April 

Volvo B6, 3123 (M723OMJ) has been transferred from Luton to Aylesbury. 

Two of three auto Optare/Alero's have been towed away with gearbox/transmission faults. Two orange demonstrators are here on loan

YL51XGS & YL51XCT.

Thurs 15th Apr 

Finally Greenway 3305 (JIL2195) has come to an end it has been withdrawn.

Sunday 18th April 

Leyland Olympian 5097 (G647 UPP) has returned looking smart in it's new Arriva livery, pity they didn't do the inside as well as it's smells and looks very drab.

Also sorry forgot to mention that there is some confusion as whether Greenway 3305 is actually withdrawn or not. It has I believe something wrong the chassis and there was a rumour it was going to Chassis Developments at Leighton Buzzard for repair.


Olympian 5099 comes up New Road in Oxford on its way to Aylesbury on the 280.


Another, this time 5100 heads towards Oxford at Thornhill.


Alero YN04LXF having just arrived for service at Aylesbury. Photo Steve Warwick

Your Editor noted that ex COMS/WBC Olympian 5832 was working on Rail Replacement in London a week ago last Saturday.

Carousel, High Wycombe


Mr Cooke sent in this shot of the three Citaros at Wisley (Cobham rally.) a week ago.

  

   

All the Citaros are back in service seemingly none the worse and now modified.

Excalibur coaches 14 and 24 have returned from Volvo after refurbishment. 24 now sports a nearside destination display and is fully labelled Excalibur class inside.

     
Seen above nr 24 leaves Gloucester Green headed for London
and there is an interior shot of the new display box. All has been very well done.

With the inevitable traffic delays coaches do, from time to time escape on to the "wrong" route for their branding.


Here one of the first trips by 24 was ironically on the X70 to Heathrow.

Coaches 8, 9 and 10 have now been withdrawn. Nr 8 was the VCS liveried version and no news has been forthcoming if any such livery is to be perpetuated. Now only 11 and 12 are in the old livery and in service awaiting the return of 25 and 26 in the new livery.


Here nr 12 passes nr 18 in Gloucester Green late last week.

Coaches 69-71 (5-7) are away for upgrading to Airline services and 69 is almost ready, now to be a 49 seater with toilet as 67-68 (27-28)

Adrian Lancer writes "Espress coach 1 now has a new grey ticket machine, presumably with smartcard compatibility. Neither of the buses I was on yesterday had been done though." All coaches were fitted two weeks ago with new Wayfarer TGX150 ticket machines. Ed.)


One of the new TGX 150 machines.

Adrian goes on to say that "the model of P&R Trident 929 is now on sale." (Ironically 929 has now been returned to Transbus as all the Oxford Tridents have now been rectified !! Ed.)

Scania coach 80 has also returned to Scania following a loan period to cover for some small mods on the new London espress Scanias, now all completed.


One of the Airline Scanias at Gatwick South Terminal Coach Station, now reopened after
a one month face lift. The coach was on an overnight service to Oxford. Photo by Richard Griffin.

Keep you eyes open for a new training bus shortly to be added to the OBC fleet. 645 is in works now.

Adrian Lancer wrote that 401 was on 5s the other day and 403 on the 18. This was whilst the Citaros were having modifications.

Andy Gilmour wrote "Seen heading north on the M1 near
Nottingham at approx. 1400 2nd April  was a Red Oxford Trident - I think it was 102. A fitter in overalls was driving - there were no passengers." It seems Andy was part of a group of 3 drivers bringing Megabus Olympians to Winchester.

Ross writes :-

6th April

Saw all the Citaros are now back in service today, including 823 on the 300.  At least 4 B10Bs were covering BLE workings on the 5 (61?, 639,643) and 15 (636) however.

A few other obs

651 - 300
652 - 400

13th Apr

405 and 652 - 5.  (This route also had 4 Tridents (101/3-5) - I thought only 2 should be allocated to it or has this changed?)  833 - 18

The coaches are now all receiving fleet numbers and a useful addition as seen in the photo below is a small fleet number in the driver's window.

 
Unusually two red Tridents follow each other down George Street. 102 was on 2 road with 105 on 300 road behind.
Those blinds escaped the camera gain.

Some major changes to 2 road took place two weeks ago with in one direction the 2 going to Barton an the 2A to Risinghurst. The 22 has been withdrawn.

On the return the buses operate a 2 via Grovelands and Evans Lane to Kidlington and the 2A via Evans Lane and Grovelands returning to the service as it was a few years ago. A Council sponsored service to the airport at Kidlington, the 2D operates in the day and at peak hours OBC provide a service to the airport.

 
102 shows off the 2 display and 603 sets off for Risinghurst on the east bound 2A.


Trident 106, involved in a bad accident some months ago has now returned to service.

My spotting sources suggest that coach nr 1 made a foray to Gatwick on the X80 last week but this is not confirmed.

Motts of Aylesbury


A new Jonckheere for Motts, MT04Mtt comes off St Giles last Friday.


Oh dear, a 757 driver not aware that Queen Street is banned to express services.

Plastow's of Wheatley


Plastow's T910UCS waits for the traffic lights at Thornhill.

 

Stagecoach have published a new fleet list for this area and Ralph Adams has summarised the major changes as follows.

33650    Reserve to Oxford    32612 Oxford to Wales
33651    Reserve to Oxford    32051 Oxford to Wales
33652    Reserve to Oxford    32052 Oxford to Wales
33653    Reserve to Oxford    32053 Oxford to Wales
33654    Reserve to Oxford    32054 Oxford to Scotland
33655    Reserve to Oxford    32057 Oxford to Scotland
33763    Reserve to Oxford    32061 Oxford to Scotland
33821    Reserve to Oxford    32062 Oxford to Scotland
33822    Reserve to Oxford    32063 Oxford to Scotland
50038   Delicensed to Oxford
41510   Disposal to sold (no details of purchaser
16401   Reserve to Scotland (Fife)
16402   Reserve to Scotland (Fife)

Still in reserve 20541, 20542 20417 20704 (all last allocated to Oxford, although some used short term elsewhere).

From another group, 16403 is reported as no longer on loan to Oxford but part of the permanent fleet. Nothing on the South Midlands list to confirm or deny.
(16403 was still in service on 28s last Saturday afternoon. Ed)

Not related to Oxfordshire

20423 Reserve (was Oxford) to Nuneaton 25402 Nuneaton to disposal (last Leyland National)
31330 Reserve (was Oxford) to Rugby 32058 Rugby to Reserve
41504 Disposal to sold
32005 Nuneaton to delicensed (Accident)
16599 Leamington to delicensed (Accident)

It seems to me that you go for a long time without major accident damage, then 2 come together. Well, I suppose that's buses for you.

Ross reported that

6th April 

18131 (KN04XJF) also turned up with not in service on the front at Gloucester Green at 1.45pm and a Brookesbus Trident (again not in service) was heading down the A34 between Oxford and Abingdon at 11.40am.

22054 - 7B
22927 - 1
22932 - 29
33822 - 7C
34466 also appeared on the 7 (or 7A) in the evening, having been on the 10.

The Witney City Controller told me that one new Trident is at Witney for driver training so that must be 18131. The others are at Banbury, Rugby and Leamington. No date for service entry is known yet. Ed.


The old livery still lives on as seen on Plaxton 52156 operating the X6.

Adrian Lancer wrote "Attached is a pic of 25402 in Nuneaton Bus Station before setting off on the tour (via the garage as drops of water were seen dripping from the rear before departure!) As the tour was not "pre-booked", exact numbers were hard to ascertain before the day - for this reason 14943 joined us for most of the trip, however this could only join us from Coventry, so the other National in the picture (STW18W) was borrowed to take any extra passengers on the first leg from Nuneaton to Coventry.  In the event only 30-odd passengers joined the tour at Nuneaton, so it was not needed!


The two Nationals mentioned above. (Picture Adrian Lancer.)


The 10 has produced an unusual blind display on a number of low floor Darts as seen on 33822 above.


New low floor Dart 34466 seems to now quite often work the 25.


Banbury low floor Dart 31853 works into Oxford on the X59.


The Hillingdon stop is quite popular with passengers and here Tube nr 50 picks up in its way to Oxford.
The Megabus Oxford service also stops here.

Finally Ross reports

13th Apr

22053 - 3

22054/7 - 10 (22054 has spent most of the day on this route) 

Your Editor noted 22057 operating the 27/28 on Friday last.

Graham Mildenhall wrote that it "...may be of interest - Saturday afternoon approx 4.45 I passed SiO Olympian 16524 heading towards London up the M40. It had "Stagecoach" in the destination blind but carried a "Megabus.com" board in the nearside front window."

(I would note that 16524 often works the Megabus service to London Ed.)

Andy Gilmour writes "I was driving the first of 3 Megabuses along the M1 from Chesterfield to Winchester (13620-2) last week - the M1 was crowded with buses !!

Swanbrook


This Scania, now working the 53 to Cheltenham has escaped my camera for a few weeks now.
Not so last Friday when T35CNN is seen unloading in George Street.

Tappins - City Sightseeing

Kevin Stevens writes "Just a quick update from City Sightseeing. 129 has now returned from Didcot sporting a new red coat and very smart it looks too.  This means only 124 and 39 need to be resprayed then we will be completely red. These are scheduled to be completed by the end of April but as with all things will depend on serviceability of the remaining fleet.  We have not suffered any major breakdowns lately which is a good sign.  Both 39 and 14 have also had gearbox replacements in the last month. 

Thames Travel.

Ross notes that "a new Thames Travel MPD, 104 (OU04FMV) was on the 101 last week." (I saw it on Friday but could not get a picture sadly. Ed.)

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


This Ayats Bravo caused a stir in GG last Saturday when it came in to turn round.

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

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