A Happy Christmas to all my readers
Sunday 18th December 2005
next update week ending 6th January 2006
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Last week I published a page devoted to history in our area plus the Routemaster special. This week we will get back to normal with news on developments in our area. This will be the last page until after Christmas as the big day falls on a Sunday and I feel like a break. I therefore expect to publish the next page during the first week of 2006. This will then include my annual visit to Winchester on New Year's day.
Changes announced to the Oxford espress
A special leaflet published this week by Oxford Bus reveals changes being made to the "espress" service from29th January 2006.
The new timetable offers the following improvements:
Extra resources for the peak time services, especially during the evening rush from London
Added flexibility to ensure there are enough seats for everyone even if services are delayed coming into London
extra recovery margins at busy times to combat bunching, which can result in overcrowding
the stabling of extra coaches in London during the day to add greater robustness and the capacity to deal with unforeseen events
maintain the current 15 minute frequency at peak times but in order to free up resources for the improvements there will be a slightly lengthened gap between coaches at off-peak times on Monday to Friday to 20 minutes
The brochure also notes that there are fewer people travelling to and from London at the moment. Regular commuters are still making the journey but the numbers of casual travellers are down, particularly at night during the week. The overnight services will be retained on Friday and Saturday nights but services during the "wee small hours" will be withdrawn from Sunday to Thursday.
(The changes recognise the problems of heavy traffic congestion facing both operators on this route and it will be interesting to see how the service develops in the light of these changes. Ed.)
Real time information goes live in Oxford - http://oxfordshire.acislive.com/
The system mentioned in the these pages over the past year is now fully operational and can be viewed at the address above. Both major operators have now produced their own brochures detailing how the system works.
Dutch buses in Cuba
Although outside our area I am including the following picture which is rather interesting. This is especially so in that a number of people now holiday in Cuba and this is a taste of what's on offer.
Robin Renout writes "I’m from Holland and I’ve been to Cuba last year. By coincidence I was visiting your website about buses and saw a picture of an old Dutch bus. It’s a Daf- Den Oudsten bus and was made in Eindhoven. So your right about the fact that it’s an old Dutch bus who was used for public transport in the mid eighties. The original licence plate is captured. (BV-54-JF)
Holland donated the buses to Cuba around mid nineties"
More on the end of the 159 Routemaster service in London
Following from last week's special page I received a few additional items which are of interest.
Brian Bell writes to say "Malcolm, as always an excellent article. Just to put the record straight however, the first photo (of the RM with the Bobbies on the platform) is of the bus entering Brixton Hill Tram Depot. This was being driven by Peter Hendy, TfL's director of Surface Transport, and I understand had a police escort for the short journey from Brixton Bus Garage. Speeches and Media coverage were arranged in the tram depot, but enthusiasts were not allowed to enter, however the disabled protestors (a low point of the day as far as I was concerned) were.
However, not that anyone official will ever admit it, RM2217 was NOT the last Routemaster in service on the 159. In a repeat of what happened on the last tram night, a different bus was running so late that it ended service after 2217. Appropriately this was RM54, the oldest body still in regular service and the only plain window left (in both cases excluding the 'showbus' RM6). You have a photo of this on your site heading past Brixton Garage to Streatham Station, where it arrived about a minute and a half after 2217 had set down at Brixton Garage. Why it was running 70 minutes late is something only the crew would be able to tell !!
The very last RM as mentioned above by Brian Bell and thanks to Brian for the picture.
Brian says of the picture "Unfortunately this is the best I can send you at the moment of RM54, the actual last 159 Routemaster. This is seen passing the crowds at Brixton Garage on its way to Streatham. I have photos of it at Streatham, but for some reason I am having problems downloading anything I took after Brixton Garage, as I keep getting an error message. Maybe it does not like the video clip I took whilst travelling on the bus down to Streatham."
Richard Sharman also wrote sending some pictures as well. He says "Thanks for the name check in this weeks news (mmm, could of picked a better pic!)
This is picture of Stratford Blue RML2565 which I took down for the Enthusiast day on the 159."
Richard goes on to report "I travelled down to London on the Wednesday to stay in Purfleet overnight, left Stratford at 12pm, she only does 35mph, by the time I got to Stokenchurch I was having trouble maintaining top speed, by the time I got to the Wycombe turn off she was down to 10mph so pulled off and engine cut out, so she is pictured here on the Wycombe M40 slip road around 15.00."
He says "Carousel Buses kindly got problems sorted and I was on my way again, departing Wycombe at 17.15, going through Central London to Purfleet, got there 19.50.
She ran like a dream whilst on the 159 but the same thing happened on the way back, this time hard shoulder of the M40 J1!."
Altogether two nice postscripts to this memorable event. Ed.
More on the Iveco double decker
Following last week's item on an Iveco double decker which was used on the Thames Transit Blackbird Leys route some eyars ago I had two messages regarding what happened to this bus.
Chris Lowe from Manchester writes "This vehicle was a one-off in this country, it is an Alexander R-type bodied Iveco which was fitted with a proper Iveco front end, in a similar manner to how they do now with the Scania OmniCity.
As you said this vehicle went to Filer's of Ilfracombe, but after they stopped operating this vehicle saw service for a while in Manchester with Bluebird of Middleton operating along the Wilmslow Road as well in between some school journeys. It has however gone back down South and it went to Somerbus, but has now passed to someone else I believe."
Andrew Webb writes "Adding to your report of the unique Iveco double decker
it did indeed go to Filers, but subsequently passed to Abus of Keynsham. I
photographed it with Abus on 29/7/03. I've not heard that it has passed
Keep up the good work with the website, I really enjoy the weekly read about the buses I used to see when I lived briefly in Oxford."
Stephen Le Bras also confirmed some of the points above.
The Royal Blue Bristol MW
Richard Field from Neath writes "I spent two days in London last week, Thursday and Friday, to witness the sad demise of the Routemaster. On the Thursday I spent most of the day at Marble Arch and on Friday I was at Brixton garage to see the last Routemaster come off service. While at Marble Arch I caught site of this former Royal Blue MW6G, did this come up from the west country? "
MW writes "617 DDV is, or at least was until recently and I think still is, operated by Memory Lane, whose operating centre is in Dorking although the legal address is in Maidenhead. It made an occasional foray onto the operator’s Surrey CC tendered Sunday service 32 between Redhill and Guildford before the service was withdrawn a couple of years ago."
Stuart Turner writes that he saw ex Abbey Coaches Metrobus CUB540Y in a heavy cannibalised condition being towed behind wrecker (missed owner - as driveing other way), up Marlow Hill towards Handy Cross, probably going for scrap.
For those who are interested in Devon and Cornwall - useful links
Details of a growing picture site which has numerous pictures of the South West are:
Happenings in Luton and the area
Mike Penn writes "As far as Luton happenings are concerned Lutonian have acquired two more vehicles from MK Metro. M70 TGM is a Plaxton bodied Mercedes 709D new to Tellings Golden Miller and L713 JUD is a Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart new to Thames Transit. This rejoins L710/2 JUD in Luton, the former with Lutonian and the latter with LQT. Both new arrivals retain MK Metro livery with Centrebus vinyls added. I am attaching a photo of L713 JUD."
Ed Maun writes "Thanks for the pictures of Frogmoor BS in issue 157. They brought back memories. I had forgotten there was a bus washer there. I think buses were parked there overnight to avoid dead mileage back to the main depot at Wycombe Marsh. I assume the pictures were taken from the Dovecote multi-storey car park. They give a good indication of TV’s fleet at High Wycombe at that time – all Bristol/ECW in the shape of FLF and LD Lodekkas; LS, MW and LH single deckers; and what looks like a one time LS coach converted for bus duties and in DP livery (cream from waist upwards).
What struck me was the tatty nature of the bus station but this was only a few months before the opening of the new Newlands bus station and depot which was formerly opened in March 1970. I’m not sure it opened for use at that time as I seem to remember there was a dispute with the Unions over some issue. Frogmoor BS was used by the services that had previously operated from the roadside in Frogmoor; the services that used the rail station yard continued to do so until Newlands BS opened which replaced all the terminal locations in High Wycombe and the depots in Wycombe Marsh and Desborough Road."
Ed Maun writes "I thought you may be interested in the attached photograph of Marlow Road, Stokenchurch. I come across it recently going through papers; it had been retrieved from the family home in Stokenchurch at the time the house was cleared for sale. It is actually a post card which was sent to Mum and Dad by Diana Bartlett who one time lived at Little Studridge Farm and owned the milk round that Dad did part time. It is photographed from the junction with Wycombe Road. I think it could date from the 1930s. The scene was little changed in the 1950s although there were more houses further down on the right hand side by then (including the family home). The building on the left is the school and school house which was known as the board school. Its equivalent today would be a middle school. I went there for 4 years, leaving in 1948 to go to Wycombe RGS at the top of Amersham Hill. One thing that fascinates me about this photo is its sharpness and detail. There is a group of ladies on the left hand pavement – are they waiting for a bus – the stop was somewhere about there at one time. There is also a cyclist pedalling towards the camera. Note also the back of the road sign which would have displayed “slow – major road ahead”. There appears to be a car in the distance, and is that a dog on the left hand pavement?"
John Bristow writes "I attach a photograph which you may wish to use as a Christmas entertainment for 'the troops'. It shows an AEC owned by the Liss& District company and I photographed it at their Liss Forest depot on 28 March 1965 whilst on an Omnibus Society study tour. My record shows it as ex-COMS."
Compliments of the Season to your good self and all the other contributors and many thanks for another year of interesting information and debate."
(Thanks for that John, it was indeed ex COMS and was an AEC with Weymann body delivered in 1940 like the one from the picture by its side. I acknowledge the excellent history of COMS which is available from the Oxford Buys Museum and has recently been updated and reprinted. The wartime photo comes from that publication. http://www.oxfordbusmuseum.org.uk/ Ed.)
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this page and look forward to your continued support in the future.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 18th December 2005
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 18th December 2005
Poor light with the winter sun hardly getting between the buildings gave this picture of
5158 loading up in St Aldates a rather atmospheric quality.
Ed Maun writes to say "Odd workings in Aylesbury on Thursday 15th December.
Silver Rider Optare Alero on Blue Route 2!
This caused considerable confusion in the bus station as no service number or
destination displayed – and the driver seemed reluctant to announce where he was
going! Where are all the route branded MPDs?
Also, County Rider Optare Solo on service 4 to Southcourt and the Coppice Estate."
It appears that the new 757 coaches will not enter service before 29th December. Details of the batch are:
4065-4069 YN55WSW, WSV, WSX WSY WSZ. They are VDL SB4000+ 12.4m long with Van Hool Alicron C55FL bodies. I am told that wheel chair passengers will have to book in advance. This is probably because the 5 coaches are insufficient to maintain the full schedules.
Nigel Peach writes "Carousel have repainted another of the ex Armchair Olympians into their new livery. I think it was H564 GKX, but it might have been 554 (both are in the fleet). It looked very smart and shiny."
These two shots show how the Carousel fleet is being modernised.
Many buses now have digital displays.
Charlton Services, Charlton-on-Otmoor
An addition not so far seen by me or reported by readers is another Volvo, N4PUS. Further details would be appreciated.
Further to notes a week ago on the refurbishment of the 8xx series Volvos it now appears that the 4xx series Darts with Wright bodies will also be treated in the same way. Keep your eyes open for 801 which should be returning to service quite soon.
Solent Blue line have taken delivery of more of the NCME Paladin bodied Volvos and Phil Stockley wrote a week ago to advise "In addition, our driver training B10B 529 (L227THP) paid a visit to Oxford depot this week, as part of an emerging strand of co-operation on driver testing, and by coincidence was there at the same time as we were collecting 651, 652 and 654 and the attached snap shows what happens when you don't hold your mobile phone straight while taking the required picture!"
Photo by Phil Stockley
Phil continues "Lots going on with B10Bs at the moment... Native 526 (L526YDL) has returned from repaint at SVOC Ryde and is currently awaiting bluestar vinyls.
K130 BUD (Oxford Bus Co 656) remains in our parking area at Eastleigh in plain blue awaiting bluestar vinyls and destination and number blinds K127 and K129 BUD (OBC 653 and 655) arrived from Oxford on Monday and are parked at SVOC Ryde Depot awaiting repaint, both having been taken to the Island on Tuesday.
Native 528 (L528YDL) has gone to Buddens Coaches, Romsey for repaint into bluestar livery.
and 128 BUD (OBC 651, 652 and 654) were collected from Oxford today (Thursday).
K125 and 128 are parked at Eastleigh depot; K126 went straight to Buddens at
Romsey and will follow 528 into repaint some time next week." ( that's this
last week Ed.)
"Also, we have now decided to take four further B10Bs from the same batch; Oxford's 647-650 (K121-124 BUD). Together with the three native B10Bs, this will bring the total B10B fleet to 13 and therefore with luck and a following wind gives just enough to allow a consistent all-day allocation of B10Bs to Bluestar 1 and 3 (requires 12 all day buses) from some time in early 2006.
There is no date yet for the arrival of 647-650 - they are currently at Oxford awaiting single door conversion."
(So it will be worth the trip south next summer for some very interesting pictures. Wilts and Dorset are also getting Citaros to add to the picture. Ed.)
The following pictures were provided by Anthony and show the Oxford buses at Portsmouth.
Nr 9 re-entered service over a week ago now and is seen here sporting its new registration.
Coach nr 2 is seen heading down St Aldates into the winter sun, passing Christ Church.
When producing the special launch page for the new Citaros 839 eluded my camera and those of my colleagues.
Here it is on Friday last, looking very new and shiny.
Ben Morroll sent this nice shot of 825 on a 2 working.
I am told that the buses normally allocated to 2 road are 825-827 and 839-848.
Earlier delivered 832 is seen at Carfax last Friday on its normal X3 working.
Studies of two rear ends - 839 and 842 show off the striking rear vinyls.
842 moves round to Magdalen Street to take up a 2D working to Kidlington Oxford Airport.
Stephen Le Bras writes "40721 has new magenta branding for route 58 (Britwell to Uxbridge). I noted it this morning in Windsor, so presume several of the same type will be so treated."
Volvo 7396LJ catches the afternoon sunshine as it waits to turn by The Randolph Hotel last Friday.
A study of National Express in Oxford last week.
The first picture is of an earlier 05 registered Scania on the 757 and Go-Ahead group Volvo on the 304.
Ken MacKenzie wrote to give details of the buses now in New Zealand saying "Malcolm, here is a list of the ex Reading and there new NZ ID."
917 - 924: Became 656 - 663 CSM 926/ CSY 464/ CSM 935/ CSY 473/ CSM 924/ CSM 925/ CSM 940/ CSM 939
937 - 940: Became 664 - 667 CSM 927/ CTQ 743/ CSM 938/ CSY 466
943 - 945: Became 668 - 670 CSM 937/CSM 938/ CSM 929
946 - 950: Became 671 - 675 CSM 936/ CSM 933/ CSY 461/ CSY 465/ CSM 934
Pictures can be seen in the more recent editions of this page. Ed.
Richard Sharman wrote to say "This is a picture of Reading Spectra 703 which is currently stored at Ensignbus Purfleet.
It will be converted to open top configuration shortly and enter service in the City Sightseeing fleet next summer, with a bit of luck in Stratford."
R H Transport
RH transport took over operation of County Council tendered services 25 and 25A from Stagecoach and local Kidlington services 3/3A from Grayline on Monday 12th December.
RH are operating from an outstation site at Yarnton in the same yard as Heyfordian. RH have four new Optare Solos on order which should be in service by the end of January - three are for services 25/25A and one for Kidlington Town which also operates a school contract in the peak hours.
Meanwhile they have four buses on hire, Mercedes Mini-bus W996JNF for Kidlington and Solos MX03YDF, MX04VMH and MXO4VLV for the 25/25A. As part of the new 25/25A timetable there is a new school journey from Somerton to Bicester (service 25B) and for these school journeys RH have bought a 51 seater Scania bus with an Alexander body (F113OMJ.) - this has been repainted in RH's new standard cream livery. All the hired in buses are currently white, the two "04" registered Solos displaying fleet names for north country operator "Compass Royston".
A selection of pictures by myself and Gavin Francis appear below and give some idea of the first days of operation on the 25.
An older bus from the RH fleet is seen below operating in Oxford last Friday.
School Bus Company
I had not seen this Leyland Tiger before displaying as it does it 70 seat capacity.
John Hammond writes "An unusual vehicle working Stagecoach's 100 service from Witney this morning - B10M 20542 amongst the usual Tridents."
Kevin Stevens writes "I can add a little detail to your pictures with the heading:
more arrivals at Horspath, this time on 25th July 1992.
They are being prepared for service and their fleet numbers are on the destination screen.
I think that a younger Richard Sharman running across the left hand one?"
The buses in question were 29 seater Mercs and were fetched up from the Portsmouth (Red) depot and put into service on Park and Ride at Redbridge to start with. They were unusual for Thames Transit as they were automatics rather than the normal manual gearboxes that Harry Blundred had previously bought. I recall going down to fetch them, we brought 5 back one weekend and I think a further 4 the following weekend. They went like rockets (except on hills) and it was very much a case of wacky races up the M27 and A34.
Huw al;so writes on the same subject saying "Just read your last page and I saw you had a picture of Thames Transit 3 Merc's 368 370 371
I drove these Mercs when they first came in service in Portsmouth (Red Admiral) and I wondered if you knew of anyone or a website if they had pictures of the Mercs in the RA livery?
Im going down memory lane, being in the industry for the last 20years and I'm sure you can help."
Chris Farmer writes "I have been a regular visitor to your superb site for a few months now after discovering it by pure accident, while doing a "google" for something else !
I have lived in Banbury for a couple of years now and keep an eye on the operations of the various companies that serve the Town. I just thought Id update you with a bit of news about the recent Optare Solos that were recently launched in the Town.
One is now almost permanently diagrammed to serve the B8 Town route to Ruscote and Hardwick on a 6 day a week basis, a route which I believe these were not intended to serve? The particular vehicle used does vary on a day to day basis, sometimes it carries the 488 route branding, other days its one of the B1 or B2 Town route branded vehicles.
I just wonder why this is happening as capacity seems to be a problem on the B8?"
Chris has promised to keep us up to date with goings on in Banbury.
Vehicle news is that 406532 is no longer licensed as a bus. It now has 16 seats only as can be seen from the pictures below. It is use as Staff Transport between Horspath and the City.
It is not so often that one sees a Volvo B6 on the 59, more often than not it is a Volvo B120M.
M A N 22057 works a 1 service past Christ Church last Friday.
Two Tridents to compare. The Oxford one has been modified to carry a protection bar on the upper nearside dome.
Newly arrived in Cheltenham 47241, KX55SBO on 3/12/2005
It is registered in Rugby, following closely on to the Banbury four.
I wonder why?
The Tube stops in St Aldates to set down and 50102 is seen here last Friday.
50138 arrives in London from the North. Transfers of these Neoplans has meant that the Birmingham service is now worked by Volvo coaches.
If a Volvo is unavailable then anything can turn up. This picture by Gavin Francis shows one of Unibus Olympians in Bullied Way 10 days ago,.
Thames Travel, Wallingford
Stephen Le Bras writes "Further to your question, I believe Thames Travel have ordered Scania Omnitown/ELCB single deckers, ie the midibus version of the vehicle. ELCB (East Lancs) are designing a new body for it."
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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
The Oxford Bus Museum
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002