Issue 55

Sunday 23rd November 2003

next update week ending 5th December 2003

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.

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Well winter really is upon us now and the weather this weekend has been very anti-camera. I am thus sorry that there are only a limited number of pictures but I hope that what is there will be of interest.

My first picture does, I believe, give emphasis to the winter evenings and here we see the 1530 X70 approaching the pick up at Queens Lane.

I have for some time now had a thing about taxi drivers and their often surprising driving actions. however the one in the picture below must take a first prize for total lack of road sense. The driver had just gone past the waiting traffic on the wrong side of the traffic islands and at the same time continued to use his mobile phone. The registration is blurred so I don't think I can be done for privacy law or anything but this guy really should get a "prize". The normal driving methods, such a dropping fares off on a pedestrian crossing, doing u turns without warning and parking with complete disregard for other road users, are all minor when compared to this display of driving. Sorry if I am on my soapbox but this flagrant breach of the rules seemed so unnecessary for a normal road user. Maybe he had blue lights flashing and a police sign but I can't see it.......

My recent visit to the top of Carfax Tower yielded many pictures and another is shown below. This may be useful for reference when the new Corgi model of the airline coach comes out...... the coach pictured is nr 26.

The papers this week also yielded a lot of stories and I will start first with one from The Bucks Free Press. A recent survey by Bucks County Council showed that customer satisfaction in the county had improved in most areas. In Chiltern approval was up by 16%, south bucks by 12% and in Aylesbury Vale by 4%. however in Wycombe satisfaction dropped by 11%. In Wycombe questions asked revealed unhappiness with early running buses, unreliability in places such as Downley and Princes Risboro'. People also complained of the withdrawal of services, especially in Stokenchurch. This matter has been covered in these pages and it seems that there are so many car owners in the village that buses cannot compete on a profitable basis. Even the county withdrew the "Easybus-Countyrider" service due to lack of support.

The Oxford times reports on bus pollution in Abingdon following an increase in services using the town centre from 19 per hour to 23 buses every hour. A monitor will be set up but both main companies highlighted the introduction of new buses which were very clean in operation. Another story in the paper mentioned the award to the new park and ride at Water Eaton which has an excellent security record since its opening last December. finally there was more on the matter of coach services dropping off inside Thornhill Park & Ride following two incidents. Oxford bus Company coaches will start from 13th December but evening services on The tube and seemingly also Megabus are already using the facility.

The visit of President George Bush caused some disruption to bus and coach service last week. Ralph Adams wrote "At 5 p.m. today, a protest march was made from Gipsy Lane to Cornmarket. At least the students have hopefully done a full days study before their protest began.

At 6.00, I saw a loaded Service 1 go down St Aldates on its way to Blackbird Leys. On my way down St Aldates, an X13, a 15 and 101 were all stuck waiting for the protest to clear the High Street. At 6.05, another Blackbird bus was empty waiting outside the police station, with a large number of passengers waiting for "any" bus. I believe it later passed me as an X4 down Abingdon Road. Coming into town up the Abingdon Road were all buses normally arriving via the Plain, obviously coming in via Iffley Road and Donnington Bridge, including routes 2, 5, 16, 22, 400.

I was very surprised at a considerably less traffic than usual both in or out of town on the Abingdon Road, which I would have expected to be worse than most days.

It will certainly be a challenge to get the evening drivers back onto their scheduled departures for the rest of the evening."

It was reported that all companies worked hard to maintain services during the march but such efforts are not always easily achieved.

Some weeks ago Paul Lacey published his history of Thames Valley from 1931 to 1945. This book is fascinating as it gives so much information, much of which is normally lost to history. fleet allocations for 1939 and 1945 make interesting reading, showing as they do the depots and dormy sheds in use. Who remembers the dormy shed at Fingest?

Whilst reading the book I found the story of Chiltern Buses, based at Lane End of great interest and wondered just where the depot was on Marlow Road. For many years it was used for storage and at one time for repaints and other work. Now, I wonder, is this building pictured below the depot? It is just beyond the centre on the way to Marlow and is now used by Vivendi. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Was this the Thames Valley (Chiltern) depot at Lane End. Are there any pictures of it in use.

One of my regular correspondents, Ed Maun noted his father used to drive at Stokenchurch for Thames Valley and Mr Maun Senior is also mentioned in the book.

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, 23rd November 2003.

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News of the local companies – 23rd November 2003

This Olympian, 5157,  is seen from top of Carfax Tower in Oxford on Friday 14th November.

James asked last week "...just like to find out, if you could ask your readers if they know of any history/background to the 323 & 324 routes, from Aylesbury To High Wycombe.  This is to accompany some photos i have for my Arriva site."

Ed Maun responded as follows "James asked about the history of services 323/324 between High Wycombe and Aylesbury.    These service numbers were used from 13 April 1980 when the NBC MAP scheme started under the brand name “Chiltern link”.   Chiltern link services were operated by both Alder Valley and London Country – the 323/324 being operated by Alder Valley.    These services run from High Wycombe to Aylesbury via Naphill, Walters Ash, Lacey Green and Princes Risborough; the 323 then continuing via Butlers Cross, the 324 via Little Kimble. 

After the various expansions and take-overs of the 1930’s the High Wycombe to Aylesbury service settled down to a Thames Valley operation as service 30.   By 1945 it ran via Saunderton along the A4010 to Princes Risborough and onwards to Aylesbury with no number variation for the Butlers Cross/Little Kimble variations.   At the same time service 31 ran from High Wycombe to Walters Ash via High Wycombe.    By 1953 service 31 had been extended to Lacey Green.

I seem to remember that some time during the 1960’s(I think) service 30 was linked to service 20 (High Wycombe to Windsor) to provide a through Windsor to Aylesbury service.    Some years later the link was severed due to increasing congestion causing reliability problems, the High Wycombe to Aylesbury section becoming service 21.

From 1st January 1972 Thames Valley was subsumed into Alder Valley with services continuing as before.    By October 1977 service 31 had been extended beyond Lacey Green to Princes Risborough and through to Aylesbury via Little Kimble.     Butlers Cross was served by service 21 which continued to operate via Saunderton.    The 31 had become the equivalent of today’s service 324; the service number it became at the MAP exercise in 1980.   At this time the 21 was cut back to terminate at Princes Risborough and became service 321.   By deregulation in 1986 Alder Valley had been split into more or less its original constituent parts with the original Thames Valley area becoming Alder Valley North.     Regulation had little effect and the services continued to be operated by AVN.  

However, a couple of years later Mott’s Coaches commenced their Yellow Bus operation and started to compete with Alder Valley on the 323 and 324 services, ironically at about the time Alder Valley North was renamed the Bucks Berks Bus Company and used the fleet name “The Bee Line” and adopted a mainly yellow livery similar to “Yellow Bus”.   Moving on to the early 1990’s the Luton & District Bus company had purchased London Country North West and christened the Wycombe area operations  “Chiltern Bus”; Len Wright had sold the Wycombe area “Bee Line” to the City of Oxford Motor Services (Oxford Bus Company) to become “Wycombe Bus”.    Mott’s eventually sold most of its Yellow Bus operation to Luton & District whence followed a major redistribution of bus services based on High Wycombe with the result that Wycombe Bus gave up the 323/324 services and Chiltern Bus took over as the sole operator eventually through various take-overs to become Arriva.

I have referred to old time tables for some of the above and the rest is from memory; I guess your other “historical” correspondents will soon correct me if I have some events out of order and provide more accurate dates for recent happenings."

The power of the web never ceases to amaze me. There is a wealth of information out there. Thanks so much to Ed Maun for these notes.



Details of services over Christmas and the New Year are coming to hand now and for the first time in many years local bus services will operate, albeit in a limited way, on Boxing Day and New Years Day. This is a welcome development and the services which will run on those two days are 2, X3, 4A/4C, 5, 6/6A,10C/10D, 13B, 15, 16 and 35 roads. The 300 and 400 Park & Ride services will also operate. All routes will run a special timetable.

Some weeks ago the subject of Trident destination equipment was raised.
109 shows it still has the original equipment, when photographed last Saturday.

A branded bus almost on the right route, 619 was on a split card on Friday which starts out as a X3
and later in day does 18 and the 13s until the end of its duty.

Rob Williams writes

17th Nov

Another very unusual working from Oxford Bus this morning. Park & Ride Trident 929 was working the 5!! Displays displaying correct details, although it looked a bit odd.

642 on 5, 406 on 4A and 823 and 825 on 400

Tues 18th Nov

510 on X13 and 823 on 400

Wed 19th Nov

505 on 5

The Dart on X13 was probably on the same duty as 619 above. Ed.

Thu 20th Nov

641 on 5 and 809 on 400

A quiet moment during an evening duty sees Volvo 657 on 35 road in Abingdon last Saturday.

Earlier on the same duty, 657 is seen on a very wet late Saturday afternoon outside Didcot Rail Station..

Ho hum - anyway, this is Oxford Bus Company 103 on 35 making the sharp turn by St Helen's Church in Abingdon during the Runaway Fair diversion.
 If it weren't for the builders' hoarding and if I stood two steps to the left you'd see the River Thames behind - just!
(What a lovely photo. Ed.)


Stagecoach have sent their latest attached fleet list (period 8 - November 2003) to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click here to view. (you will need to rotate one of the pages to view)

getacro.gif (712 bytes)


My photo of Gloucester Green with an addition courtesy Coach & Bus Week.

News of the week has to be the trials of the first 13.7m Skyliner owned by Buzzlines of Lympne in Kent. Stagecoach were interested to see how a vehicle of such increased length would fit into their operating and eingeering requirements. A source within the company stressed this was only a trial and enthusiasts should not assume an order was planned. The coach pictured above was taken from Coach & Bus Week to give an idea of what the coach looked like and not what it might mean to Gloucester Green. It was registered DD53BUZ and seats 75 in great luxury. 

Rob Williams wrote to say

Mon 17th:

16524 has gone on loan from Oxford to Witney

20542 is back from repaint, not yet in service

22052 on 3

22207 and 22931 on X4

50034 MegaRear - Oxford Tube "for clubbing?" with a picture of a record player with a Tube coach in place of the arm head

Another Tube has Oxford Tube "for shopping" with a picture of an Oxford Tube carrier bag. All three of these adverts appeared inside ordinary Stagecoach buses a few weeks back.

Wed 19th:

32054 on 25A

The Brookes Witney Vario working ended after Friday 7th, although they did operate it again on Monday 10th and Thursday 13th (I think).

For Thursday 20th I forgot to add that Banbury 31319 paid a visit to Oxford, looking to be on its way back from a repaint. Oxford's 20542 is still being sorted out following its arrival back from repaint.

On Saturday the X4 saw both Volvo B6s which remain at Oxford on this service.

I am including a further shot of the black M A N and can advise that work on the BMW vinyls is well in hand and should be ready for application within the next few weeks.

Megabus are operating revised services over the coming holiday period. These are:

Xmas Eve (24th Dec)
No 22:30 Oxford-London, otherwise normal service

Xmas Day and Boxing Day (25th/26th Dec)
No Service

27th to 30th Dec
Normal service

New Years Eve (31st Dec)
No 22:30 Oxford-London, otherwise normal service

New Years Day Day (1st Jan)
No service

2nd Jan
Normal service resumes

Thames Travel

353, Solo this time on the 101 passes the monument erected to lord Nuffield and Morris Motors.

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This is a most interesting site which I do recommend

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