Monday 19th September 2005
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Well, this has been a week and one with unexpected success. For details read on. First however this will be a short page due to time constraints but full of interest as usual.
As ever Showbus at Duxford, one of the sites run by The Imperial War Museum, was full of interest and people. It was attended by 500 buses and coaches ranging from old to new, coaches to buses, single decks to double decks, small to large. You can see the entries for this years show at this link. http://www.showbus.com/entry/entry2005.htm
A selection of some of the entries, local and more wide ranging are shown below but by far and away the greatest surprise was that a local entrant won two significant awards.
"Best modern Vehicle" AND "Best New Millennium Coach" went to Stagecoach for their Oxford Tube Skyliner, 50124 T55UBE. Harvey Cullimore and myself plus a number of Engineering staff at Stagecoach's Horspath depot worked for nearly 12 hours on Saturday getting the coach ready and prior to that the Engineering team had put in more hours on Thursday and Friday. The result can be seen in the picture below taken as we arrived at Duxford after what had been a damp ride from Oxford with quite heavy rain on the M25.
As can be seen a Brookes Bus Trident, 18196, was also entered by Stagecoach but was not entered for the "Concours" though it was still turned out in very high order. It is only when you get down to cleaning a vehicle used every day in service that one finds out what a lot of work there is to do if you are to compete with a lot of other well prepared coaches and buses. The standards were high as can be seen from an entry just two coaches away from our parking position. This was another Neoplan entered by Johnson Bros. and its engine had to be seen to be believed. One could have eaten a royal banquet of it.
Whilst we hoped to win something we were most pleasantly surprised to win two such prestigious awards and Harvey and myself were pictured with the two "prizes", after the awards, in front of 50124.
I would like to thank Gavin Francis and Chris Maxfield for their photographic efforts which do capture the moment as it were. It is also interesting to note that in the judging account is taken of the work the vehicle normally does, thus the intensity of service work etc. Indeed shortly after we returned to Oxford 50124 was off out to London on night service.
Other vehicles present included those shown below, some local and some of interest from other areas.
Motts, as ever, provided coaches in connection with the organisation and the two coaches above we captured in the lens of Gavin Francis.
Two Routemasters showing local routes were at Duxford. The first one above is owned by Peter Cartwright and has
become a regular rally attender whilst the other was entered by the EK Bus Group.
Stagecoach in Oxford's 18196 sows it new U5 display for a revised service which started last Saturday (picture by Chris Maxfield)
and Stagecoach in Swindon had sent their refurbished Volvo B10M 20687. (picture by Gavin Francis)
Stagecoach South had sent three buses, all repainted in original constituent company liveries.
The first shown above is a Volvo B10M/NC Paladin 20654 from Maidstone and from Kent came 14821 a Leyland Olympian again with NC bodywork.
Finally and winner of Best Stagecoach Bus in Show came another Northern Counties double deck, this time a Volvo Citybus B10M-50 15202
based in Portsmouth and resplendent in Southdown livery as delivered when new.
All pictures by Gavin Francis.
It really was great to see the old liveries which brought back happy memories. Congratulations to Andrew Dyer, MD of Stagecoach South and his team for a wonderful turn out.
Local coach operators were also present in the shape of two recent coaches from Worths and Woottens.
Woottens had a nice 2002 Volvo with that perfect registration W100TEN and Worths an equally nice 53 plate 2003 Volvo B12M
I shall feature further entries on next weeks page.
City Sightseeing in Oxford by Kevin Stevens
Kevin writes that their new open topper should be entering service next Saturday. so I hope someone can get a few pictures of the event.
Report from Reading by James Cusworth
I received some interesting information from James and suggested he might like to become a regular correspondent for matter in the Reading Area. I am delighted that James agreed and here is his first report.
First Berkshire introduced three new Scania L94UBs with Wright Solar bodywork onto the Madejski Stadium ‘FastTrack’ Park & Ride service on Monday 12th September. They are:
They feature route branding on the standard First livery, unlike the previous buses on this route which wore a dedicated Arriva-style livery for the service. The route branding is in a similar style to Reading Buses` new colour-coded liveries.
First run the service every 15 minutes in the week, additionally serving the MCI buildings in Reading International Business Park. Reading Buses` DayTrack service to Green Park provides extra buses from the Park & Ride into Reading in the morning and back in the afternoon giving a bus every 7-8 minutes at these times. On Saturdays, First run buses every 10 minutes between Madejski Stadium and central Reading and therefore an extra bus is required- I have seen 65602 S102CSG and 65623 T823JBL run this before and this will fit in better now the three dedicated buses are in Barbie livery. On football matchdays, Reading Buses run extra buses as service 79 to the stadium, and if London Irish are playing on a Sunday, First usually operate a special service but otherwise there is no Sunday service.
65726 on its ‘First’ day in service on Monday 12th.
First ran a special service to a jobs fair at Rivermead Leisure Centre on the 7th and 8th September. On the 8th, they used open top RMC1510 as seen.
Two purple Scanias head for Wokingham Road- First Berkshire’s SB64810 in an overall ad livery, and Reading Buses` 814 In route 17 livery.
Last week saw the end of MCW Metrobus mk1 operation at Reading Buses with the sale of the final remaining example 193 which was in the Goldline fleet. My last sighting was on the 8th September, and my last picture of it was on the 25th August when it operated a special service for Reading festival.
The last two Leyland Titans have also recently been withdrawn, and my last picture was of 78 also working the Reading festival service. There is no longer a need for deckers in the Goldline fleet as the Berkshire College of Agriculture contract has been lost.
723 remains in gold livery for the Queen’s jubilee and is seen here on Friday. Although not too clear, the changing logo of Reading Buses can also be seen in this picture- the old one on the lower deck window sticker and the new oval-based one on the upper deck.
Scanias 1007 and 1008 show the message which is now displayed on almost all Reading Buses` vehicles with electronic destination equipment ‘correct fare only please no change available’.
Route 9 is the most recent route to go colour-coded- Scania 1015 is in the light green livery for it.
Thames Travel 877 looking somewhat worn this Friday.
I would like to thank James for this first report which is most interesting and informative. A model for all of us!!
Pictures from Steve Bunce
Steve writes "Well, not much to report really. The vehicles are pretty much the same as over the last month or so with the exception of the photo enclosed. It is of PRA113R, originally a Leyland Leopard with Alexander body new as Trent 113, now somewhat altered. It is seen here in at the Ward Jones premises in Binders Yard. Do any readers know the history (or owner) of this vehicle?
Ward's own CFN104 was in residence so I include a picture of this beautiful vehicle for all to enjoy.
Thanks to Steve for that report. Two East Kent liveried vehicles on one page!!
Visit to Oxford by Geoff Cunliffe
Geoff Cunliffe met with me briefly last week during a visit south from his home in Lytham St. Annes. He sent this report following his visit.
From Bath, I send you photos of the new part open top Ayats bodied Volvo, number 273 in the City Sightseeing fleet operated in that city by the Bath Bus Company. It is turning from Manvers Street into Dorchester Street. Also a shot of First Somerset & Avon's Wright-bodied Volvo artic, also in Dorchester Street, WX55 HWA, fleet number 10175, operating a 418 to Bath Spa University Campus. It is so new it lacks appropriate vinyls. Seen on Monday 12th. September.
To Oxford, and apart from the photograph of yourself (go on, use it), the highlight was a delivery truck from Watford trying to access Queen Street, bad enough in itself, but from the wrong end too! (Sorry Geoff but with two above I really think that's more than enough Ed.)
I tried to show the proximity of the Tubes nearside mirrors to the scaffolding at Carfax corner but it doesn’t really work.
Brookes Bus 18198 was operating the 3
OBC Trident 102 was on the 4-road.
Heyfordian L584 JSA was operating a 14 service to Thame with a large and crude destination board in the windscreen.
In Banbury last Friday, the driver of Cheney Travel’s Caetano-bodied Dart slowed most obligingly for me as he left the bus station. Thank you.
By the way, if anyone wants a copy of the current Buses Focus with the article about the Tube, W.H.Smith’s at Banbury has at least half a dozen copies left. However, don’t try asking your local WHS to get you a copy because they won’t unless you are starting a 12-month contract with them. What happened to service?
You may like to use the following concerning the 500 P&R:
At Malcolm’s suggestion, my wife and I used the 500 Park & Ride on our visit to Oxford last Wednesday, since parking there (as at Thornhill) is now free. Now that is what I call a brave and sensible move, showing that Oxfordshire County Council is REALLY trying to encourage motorists to use the Park & Ride services instead of just trying to make money out of motorists at every possible opportunity. Cancelling the parking charges must have been a contentious decision and I truly applaud those who supported the move.
To my shame, I must say it was our first trip on an Oxford Citaro. I have mixed feelings about them. Inbound, the front most ceiling panel was vibrating so much it looked as if it was about to drop at any moment, although it didn’t. Sitting towards the rear, I found the engine noisy, intrusive and ‘fussy’, although the frequently-changing gearbox was commendably smooth. Why didn’t we use the bus lane down the Banbury Road?
The return trip was not a good experience. We saw one leaving Magdalen Street as we approached, so nipped into a shop as we had some time to spare. When we got to the stop, we found a smelly drunk/druggie propped up at the end of the shelter. Then the sprawling queue had to jump out of the way of three ‘hoodies’ cycling down the footpath at a fast pace. The real-time indicator told us it would be 22 minutes before the next 500 arrived. It wasn’t, and the system was clearly ignoring our vehicle. That was a shame. Such systems offer so much but do not seem to operate properly yet, and I don’t mean just the Oxford system. Sorry fellahs – I know you paid a lot for it but it doesn’t work. It may be only one vehicle it missed, but there were several snide remarks by passengers about the accuracy of the system which is obviously not held in very high esteem.
Anyway, we got back to Water Eaton having seen some good buses. Also, perhaps due to the lovely weather, I had also seen plenty of jolly nice girls too!
Returning home this afternoon, I noticed several National Express coaches heading south with just 'National Express', or I think 'National Exp' on one occasion, rather than a destination. This is reminiscent of the old Tilling days when buses used the destination 'Service', or very occasionally 'Town Service', followed by a route number. Not much help if you weren't a local. In this day and age of infinitely variable electronic displays, surely there is little excuse for a return to this old practice.
Thanks Geoff for an interesting piece.
Bus Driver of the Year 2005 - a report by Alan Gelson
Alan Gelson of Oxford Bus writes "Here are some photos taken at the Bus Driver of the Year competition in Blackpool on Sunday 11th September. The one of the 3 of us, myself, Steve Morgan and Paul Tomlin with the bus we took up, Mercedes Citaro No.835. The first bus is the one I drove, coming 46th in the competition, The Stagecoach double decker is with Steve Morgan driving it, coming 12th and winning the Go Ahead cup. The large picture of Mercedes 835 is with Paul Tomlin driving it he came 50th."
Pictures by Alan Gelson.
Interesting that you don't always drive your own bus but one provided on the day.
If anyone else has pictures and a report from their company entering this event, you may wish to let me have same. Ed.
Noam Bleicher of Bus User in Oxford reports on a trip to High Wycombe
I took a trip down to Wycombe on Sat to see Barnet play at Wycombe Wanderers. I
got the 757 which on both outward and return legs was running almost full. NatEx
must be very happy with this service as the return fare to Wycombe is over £10
and to Stansted over £20. As this service is so infrequent I had some time to
kill in town and found some impressive bus shelters on the High St which are not
in commission yet. It will be good to see them in active service. I can see why
Arriva are going over to electronic blinds; the 326 I got up to the Wanderers
ground was that day running an assortment of brand new Wright Eclipses, Darts
and shoe-box Scanias. Nothing wrong with this however if blinds clearly show
numbers and destinations. The WWFC ground is in a dramatic location under a
Chiltern hillside with red kites circling overhead all the time the game was
being played! While the slope on the pitch would have made the Barnet players
feel at home sadly this did not help their prospects and Wycombe won 1-0.
Both 326 journeys I got were running to time, although this is no thanks to some very inconsiderate parking along the Desborough Rd.
What was however very disappointing was the environment in Newlands Bus Station. It is a pretty unpleasant place. From the look of it the adjoining Octagon shopping centre has been refurbished in the last 10-15 years and I wonder why the budget did not extend to the bus station. The shed-type bus stations can be made attractive with judicious use of glass screens and upgraded flooring - look at Victoria Coach Station departure side. This would be fairly inexpensive on the scale of things when applied to the ten-odd bays at Newlands.
I would note that a total rebuild is going on, covered in these pages from time to time and this will include a brand new bus station. So Noam I hope you will come back and take a look when its finished. Ed.
Amersham Running Day - Sunday 2nd October 2005
The timetable booklets for the Amersham Running Day are now available price
£5 available from the
Postage is included in the £5.
Well that's all for this week as it's now 8pm and another days driving beckons tomorrow.
I will therefore hold over other items until next week and thank everyone for their support.
Malcolm Crowe - Monday 19th September 2005
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