Sunday 21st November 2004
next update week ending 5th December 2004
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Well, as most of you will be aware this last week has been a very poor one from a weather point of view. This has not made photographing easy and I am sorry to say but the spread this week is limited. I realise also that the balance is also not even but Stagecoach have stolen the show with two items, one being the running of 80009 on free services around the town and the other is the first Saturday with the two "Megabus" departures to London giving relief to the already heavily loaded Tubes. Indeed the London services of both operators are always heavily loaded on Saturday mornings and the Stagecoach reliefs are run to cover this point.
The local papers were also quiet this week on the bus front with the only item in The Oxford Times being a picture and story on 80009.
Gavin Francis snapped 80009 last Thursday at Brookes, Gypsy Lane where it was giving free rides to students.
Traffic seems to be have been much worse than usual in the past week with significant delays on the express services into Oxford. Joshua wrote ".....last Saturday the 539 was 4 hours late into Oxford, due to traffic on the M6, so instead of getting into Oxford at 17:10 they arrived at 21:10. This probably got to Bournemouth after midnight." (fortunately this service carries two drivers but even they must have been very tight on their hours. Ed).
Another correspondent remarks on the fact that on The Oxford Tube it is now a regular occurrence for drivers to be relieved during their journey to and from London, seemingly to keep drivers within the legal limits on driving hours. There have been some on-going road works at Shepherds Bush causing delays to the service. Drivers are changed at Hillingdon, Lewknor or Thornhill.
Equally, it can of course take up to an hour to leave Oxford outbound, especially in the afternoon. One action by the council is to change the bus lanes at Headington - Green Road and there is now a short bus lane from just before the outbound Green road stop towards the roundabout. Inbound the bus lane towards Headington has been shortened to accommodate the new outbound lane.
On a another subject we recently featured express services through our area from years gone by and john Bristow kindly sent me a picture of a North Western Road Car Leyland Leopard with Alexander Y type bodywork on the X5 heading westbound through High Wycombe. John says it was passing the Cricket Ground in London Road in January 1970.
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 21st November 2004
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News of the local companies – 21st November 2004
Alex Evans has been busy this last week and writes "...I travelled on the new 31 route today (Monday 15th) from Terriers Crossroads to Penn on Volvo B6 3116 (L316HPP).
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this is one of this kind which has now been fitted with the new destination displays, since they were barely visible before. '31 Penn' was permanently displayed on the front, with all the major stops scrolling across the bottom. The whole display then flicks to 'Please have your passes/fares ready' and then back to the route again. It was extremely visible, especially at 5pm when it was dark! It was also interesting to note that when the 31 leaves Penn pond, the driver changes the destination display from Penn to Downley rather than to High Wycombe. I would have thought it would make more sense to change it to High Wycombe in Penn and then to Downley once at the bus station. Otherwise it is not so clear for some that the route indeed goes via High Wycombe.
I travelled on Dart 3365 (L415NHJ) on the 31 today (191104). I don't know how long it has been at Wycombe for, but it was minus destination blinds today and last Saturday (13th) when I saw it at NBS. As Nigel mentioned last week, Olympian 5145 (N45JPP) was at NBS again on Saturday (13th). It seemed to be having work done to it but was shortly driven away by one of the engineers. It appears to still be with us however as I saw it on the 372 to Chesham yesterday morning.
I have also come across an interesting website - www.busphotos.co.uk It has a large and fairly up-to-date collection, even featuring some of our locals, for example L415NHJ (mentioned above) in the Dennis Darts section and G230VWL in the Leyland Olympians etc. It is also interesting to spot the link between bus registrations nationally, for example there is a photo of C38CHM heading to Enfield Town and one of D187FYM on its way to Waltham Cross, amongst many others.
On the subject of the whereabouts of Olympians 5124 & 5129, I saw 5124 in NBS this afternoon (Saturday 20th). It was at the back of the bus station next to the Olympian 'in a state of cannibalisation' ,whose registration plates appear to have been removed (possibly 5129 but I'm not sure). 5124 was facing front outwards so it was therefore easily recognisable. It's front blinds are still the same ones since it was last on the road (some 5/6 months ago now), whereas many of the other Olympians (e.g. 5132) have now had their number blinds replaced with ones of a thicker and more yellow font, in this time.5124's blinds were displaying '54 Bourne End' for some reason. It was also looking very clean and shiny, so could have possibly had a new paint job. It appears to be roadworthy now, but I don't know where it has been all this time"
Arriva's 2416 pictured by Martyn Banham running into Oxford, the bus not Martyn!
Martyn says "....Arriva
oddities - seen at night (thus no photo, sadly) a lwb Wright Handybus - K-reg
but cannot remember the details - did anyone else see this?
Also 2416 N176DWM Merc minibus on the 261; odd compared to the normal Olympians. (see above Ed.)
Marcus Lapthorn writes "......On route 67A (Coachman) the ex COMS VR HUD is operating today and some other days this week in place of the ex London Titan. One of the ex Reading Titans operated on the 67A this week also."
Apart from the work being finalised on the new depot and indeed this is now all but complete, work is in progress on renovating Queens Lane office in the city. To accommodate the drivers during this time Volvo-NC Paladin 644 has been in use as a rest room for drivers. It seems possible that in due course this bus may be converted to a driver trainer as 645 was.
644 provides welcome shleter for city drivers at Queens Lane.
Martyn Banham sent this emotive shot of 519 pausing outside its old home on the Cowley Road.
Many routes are seeing what to me are a unusual workings. A Citaro has been seen on 5 road, low floors are seemingly also appearing on 4 road including Volvos and Citaros. On Saturday a green two door Citaro was on the 300 Park & Ride which is also unusual since the run in from Redbridge is always very busy especially now on the run up Christmas.
Sadly the weather and time was against recording these interesting workings.
The highlight of last week has to be the use of 80009 on several routes, especially on Friday when it was reported on the 1, 3, 7 and 10 during a period from 1100 up to 1630. On Thursday it was used on Brookes when two of my regular contributors actually coincided in taking pictures at Gypsy Lane. Martin Banham was already at work with his camera when Gavin Francis turned up and they then discovered that they were both taking pictures for the same page.
Martyn Banham sent these two shots.
Gavin Francis this shot and the one in the editorial above.
Russell Young writes "The Designline on loan to SC Oxford ran in 'service' for most of yesterday (Friday). No fares were charged (no ticket machine fitted) but it picked up passengers as normal. It wasn't running to any timetable, the driver just made up his mind what route he fancied doing next, each time he returned to the City Centre. Not being to intimate with where SC routes go and thanks to two City of Oxford !!inspectors. I caught up with it as it did a 7 to Kidlington and back. Can't say I was too impressed with the vehicle - outward opening front doors, a bit dodgy for unsuspecting old dears - not many forward facing seats - an irritating high pitched whine when at speeds above 20 mph and the interior reminded me of an early East Lancs Dart with the seating jumbled up. But the driver (apparently an instructor, raved about it) and thanks to him I obtained some rather nice sunny shots at the Kidlington, Grovelands terminus. Unfortunately I'm still heritage and only take slides, but if you are interested, when they return I'll get one scanned and pass it on. I'm told its off to Cambridge for them to play with today (Sat 20th Nov).
For info it had worked routes 1 and 10 earlier in the day and when I left the driver was threatening to do a 4A, but I don't know if this actually happened."
Well Russell I like to give cover the everyone's views and am pleased to give yours but other people have said how much they liked the bus and i am sure it will be giving the environmentalists something to think about.
Vikki Lee wrote regarding my request for pictures "I saw 80009 on Friday evening in Speedwell St whilst waiting for my bus home (7). at 16:20pm it was blinded 3, Rose Hill, and pulled into the layover in Speedwell St. It was still there when my trusty chariot arrived to take me home for the last time this week. Sorry - no photo even though I always carry a camera - light was well fading at this time." (By chariot Vikki does mean a bus to Kidlington. Ed.)
Another regular, Stephen Le
Bras writes "....Well, I finally made it over to Oxford on Friday, after
seeing a client at 11.30, I caught the 12.14 Windsor/delayed 12.05 Slough train,
which arrived Oxford at 1.15pm. I walked into Oxford via Gloucester Green to
Debenhams corner. No sign of anything so down Cornmarket to position myself
opposite stop H5- the Wantage stop- between 2pm and 3pm. I figured I would see
every possible bus and I did note 22052 on the 1.
At 3pm, with a complete no-show, I walked back the way I had come, stopping off to buy Buses at W H Smith. The 3.38pm Virgin train took me back to Reading. Now, if I had waited around a little longer, it would have been dark...
80009 and I are obviously not compatible." (Poor Stephen, he has now been to Warwickshire and Oxfordshire in his quest for 80009. al without success. Ed)
David Benyon writes "Stagecoach were using 34466 on 3 route this morning (191104), it was seen by me entering Rose Hill estate around 09.30." (as this is the unbranded one its use on city routes is not so unusual but M A N s are much more usual on 3s.Ed)
Ian Pinnell writes "....I have noticed that Stagecoach's 22918 has received a small grey matching box thing on the top right of the cab. I asked the driver although he was not sure what it was. Could it be a tracking system to keep track of where the bus is or something else??."
John Hammond writes "Planned
fleet changes from 15/11/04
14932 - B912ODU From Rugby to Leamington
20201 - M201LHP Volvo B10M to Rugby, in exchange for "Midland Red" B10M
20215 (N215TDU) to Nuneaton ex Rugby (in exchange for "Midland Red" B10M)
20206 - Nuneaton to Reserve
20541 - Reserve to Leamington
20560 - Leamington to Reserve
20809 - Nuneaton to Rugby
20814 - Nuneaton to Leamington
34627/8 (KX54OPB/C) Reserve to Nuneaton, in service from 25/10/04
40140 - M340LHP Disposal to Stagecoach East, Northampton
40146 - M346KWK To Disposal from Nuneaton
40150 - M350AVV To Disposal ex Nuneaton
40152 - M352AVV To Reserve ex Nuneaton
Down to just one example of the original Midland Red South batch of Wright bodied Mercedes 811's following the withdrawal of 41505 (H495MRW) which is now in reserve at Rugby. Both examples of these buses are expected to be out of service by the end of this year or early next year.
Volvo B10M Coach 52308 - from Leamington to reserve.
Training coaches 52020 /31 have both been painted into the Stagecoach training bus livery at Bedford and are now in use at Nuneaton and Rugby.
Marcus Lapthorn writes "...coach 52157 continues to offer luxury travel on this route being off GG @ 0845 and every 3rd hour thereafter today. It was also on this route yesterday (Thurs).
As predicted The Oxford Tube started to carry Megabus passengers on the London-Oxford route and v.v. from Monday last.
On Saturday the first two Megabus departures from Gloucester Green took place at 0930 and 1100. 16524 operated the first service and 16523 the second.
Olympian 16523 is seen awaiting departure at 1100 from bay 2 at Gloucester Green last Saturday.
The earlier 0930 departure is seen heading London bound down High Street.
The three Olympians allocated to this service are 16522, 16523 and 16524.
Layover between trips, the returns are at 1800 and 1930, is taken at Leyton garage in East London.
16523 is caught on camera awaiting departure to Victoria to take up the 1930 service to Oxford.
News on this fleet is of two items. The first concerns a batch of five additional Alexander bodied Tridents due to strengthen the exiting fleet. As these buses are delayed it appears that five from Manchester will be loaned for a few weeks pending delivery of Oxford's own. A Manchester web site notes that .....9 potential candidates for the selection of five are MX54LPK/L/N/O/P/Y/Z/RA/E presently under delivery to Manchester. These are in the 18xxx series. The report goes on to say rumour has it five of the 18 are leaving Stockport already! That would explain why they are still relatively few & far between on the 192."
The second item is the application of a mega rear ad to 18053 as seen in Martyn Banham's picture below.
Woottens of Chesham
Michael Wootten wrote to send me a picture of the ex Oxford Lynx trainer which was in turn acquired from West Midlands and then sold by OBC to Michael. This bus has been renovated and is turned out in a virtually as new appearance as can be judged from Michael's photo below. I really love the wheel trims. Michael writes "....Now in service is former West Midlands Leyland Lynx LX1126LXCTFR1 C64HOM. This bus has been upseated from B48F to B51F and is seen here prior to gaining fleet livery. The bus was last used by City of Oxford as a driver training vehicle (T2).
Preserved Suburban Express demonstration Leyland National B51F RRM148M has been sold for continued preservation."
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