A Happy Christmas to all my readers
Wednesday 25th December 2002
week commencing 30th December 2002
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Well this week started in a poor way with my contracting the current "bug" which is going the rounds. It struck me down on Sunday for 24 hours but seemed better by Monday. However it lingered on giving me little enthusiasm for this week's update. I know many of you look forward to Monday when you can catch up on what's going on and so my apologies. Here we are and it is Christmas Day and I'm only now making the overdue News Page.
This last week or so has been a busy one for all operators and none more so than the express services from Oxford which have seen record loadings. When the University goes down the students leave en-masse and demand for seats on all services is at a peak. however when they've gone the city seems empty and local buses then rely upon the local population for their trade. Extra shoppers and additional traffic conspires to cause overloading and delays. It seemed that all roads into Oxford city centre were jammed last weekend and the operators had great difficulty in maintaining schedules. I think it was a great credit to all concerned that everyone got where they wanted to go with as little delay as possible. high Wycombe was no less congested as the climax to Christmas approached. When I made the obligatory shopping trip with my wife I noticed with interest how parking around Marks & spencer caused serious problems when a delivery truck wanted to get out of Priory Road into Castle Street. The ensuing chaos can be seen in the photo below.
Needless to say the motorways were busy for several days with people travelling more than usual also adding to service reliability on various express services. Nevertheless everyone managed and services operated with minimal delay. I made a trip to Gatwick on Monday evening but by this time most people had travelled and we were relatively quiet.
Operators have to be on top of everything concerning their business and it is always sad to see the demise of an operator in our area. Hopefully the last one, at least for this year, ceased trading on Friday 13th December (unlucky for some) and you can read details under the Beckwith heading below.
Matt Cooper, a long time
friend of this page wrote following a recent visit to Oxford saying "
Called into college today to do some research for an assignment due in January
but had to log on to the Oxon & Chilterns page ! The new P&R website
(Matt refers to the new Oxford Bus Company site
found at http://www.parkandride.net/ )
has a good quality
feel and has obviously been well planned. I have just spent a week with friends
in Longleat, Wilts at Centre Parks. We diverted on the return home for lunch at
Oxford. Saw 224 on the 22 service and glad to see that these 20 year old
machines are running along side the new Mercs. It says something about the
manner in which they have been kept.
During my 12 weeks driving in Oxford last summer I never minded driving "the older" buses, quite the reverse and found their condition to be first class for a large operator. It's a shame some of the vehicles at First Northampton are not kept as well. I'm driving the new Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo B7's a lot at the moment and we have seen the quiet launch of the "Overground" network here with buses being colour branded for certain high frequency routes. The buses, all 25, were those used at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester during the summer and were of low mileage when arriving at Northampton. That one piece curved windscreen is still strange in appearance I think and where the engine is mounted longitudinally (perhaps a bit like the Bristol VRL) looks like their is a toilet fitted ! The Tiger featured at the end of last weeks pages (103-EBW 103Y) met a sorry end to its career being involved in an accident on the hill from Prestwood to Great Missenden on the 345 service. It was transferred to Wycombe where it was 1103 for a few months prior to that accident, about 1993 time if I remember correctly. In January 1994 Oxford sent sisters 104/6/9/10 (EBW 104/6/9/10Y) all re-numbered 1104/6/9/10 respectively. These stayed for some time and retained the Citylink yellow/blue livery with full Oxford vinyls. Keep up the good work, have a good Christmas and New Year." Thank you Matt and a greeting to you and yours.
Reading the latest issue of "BUS USER" from the NFBU I was pleased to notice reference to the visit by Oxford Bus Trident 101 to Blackpool back in September. This you may remember was an effort by the NFBU to bring to the attention of The Labour Party Conference the lobby by bus users for the need for more priority for buses. Fourteen buses attended and our local bus led the procession of buses from Preston to Blackpool. Indeed Oxford Bus had applied special vinyls to the bus for the trip.
This journal also mentions the longer buses which will be approved fro use from 1st April 2003. From that point 15metre buses will be legalised, however there is still a question mark over their manoeuvrability in general and rear out-swing as defined in the European directive. Having seen these longer buses in use in Denmark and Sweden I believe that some routes can take such buses but in places like Oxford and our area in general many services are difficult enough with 12metres so developments in the U.K. will prove most interesting in the coming months. Indeed the recent sight in Amsterdam of a three axle high floor coach with a bendi-bus style trailer made me wonder how we could get that into and out of Gloucester Green and even Victoria coach Station with the parked car problem.
For the record the national renumbering of the Stagecoach fleet happens shortly and I have been speaking to Bill Potter of British Bus Publishing. This company will be producing a handbook of the full listing very shortly. A special offer has been negotiated with Bill and he is prepared to let my readers have a copy of the new handbook for a reduced price of £15.25 (£1 less than the cover price) if you call him on 01952 255669 or visit the web site mentioning the Oxford Chiltern Bus Page. The main site address is http://www.britishbuspublishing.co.uk/index.html I am sure many of you will want to take advantage of this offer.
Well now to the local news and a final note to say that, sadly, due to a lack of support, I have to cancel the proposed trip on Sunday 29th December. The cost for those who would have joined me would, I believe have been too high and so maybe I will try to resurrect same in the spring of 2003 when there is more light for photography and chance for some of you who wanted to come to do so. I know that family commitments precluded some of you. sorry to those who had booked but as they say "the best laid plans of mice and men!"
I look forward to your continued support with news and photos for this page.
Malcolm Crowe, December 25th 2002.
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The operator news from our area follows.................
News of the local companies - 24th December 2002
Abbey Coaches, High Wycombe.
I took the opportunity today to visit the new yard of Abbey coaches and found the fleet at home, as one might expect on Christmas day. The National Greenway was there as was an apparently new addition to the fleet in the shape of a Van Hool coach
Arriva serving The Shires
Steve Warwick writes with
various news items saying "Saw one of the new Arriva's Dennis Tridents in
Hemel Hempstead this morning on driver familiarization. It was No 600 KL52CWN.
This is part of an order for twelve new buses for the 142 route an are
I have been informed by Mark
Patey that it has been painted red over the weekend, had vinyl's and blind
fitted and was in service for the first time last week.
NBS Wright Crusader Volvo B6BLE's 3258, 3259 & 3260 are to be painted red and transferred to Watford as the H18 is to be operated from there.
Mon 23rd Dec
The 1745 dep 66 Buckingham was worked by Oxford Volvo 5168"
Ed Maun writes "Arriva carry out a crew change on service 332 at Thame at mid day on week days. The new driver comes from Aylesbury using an out of service bus, the relieved driver returning to Aylesbury using the same bus. This bus normally stands at the Oxford bound stop in Thame High Street while the crews are changing over. The vehicle performing this duty on Friday 20th Dec was Aylesbury’s black Olympian. The vehicle on the 332 was a Greenway in full Arriva livery.
At about 2.30 pm on Friday 20th Dec at the Aylesbury gyratory there was a dark blue Optare Solo heading towards the town centre from the Stoke Mandeville direction with I think 77 in the number blind – no destination. Does anyone know who it belongs to? The only service 77 I can think of is the Princes Risborough Town Service operated by Z & S. The last 77 journey arrives back at Princes Risborough Rail Station at 1422 so the vehicle could conceivably be back in Aylesbury shortly after 2.30."
writes "I was in High Wycombe and Aylesbury today (December 21st) and have
some interesting things to report. These are listed below:
1. X15-branded Scania 3203 was on 324s to High Wycombe all day. Also, Olympian 5100 was noted on the X15 in Aylesbury today.
2. Ex-Oxford Volvo B10B 3853 was on route 339 to Lane End all day. It even had full destination equipment on display.
3. Ex-Motts Olympian 5108 (F506 OYW) was on the 310s to Downley all day. This is normally the territory of Wright Handybus-bodied Darts.
4. I found FOUR National Greenways during the course of the day, these being 3057 (TIB 4886), 3305 (JIL 2195), 3053 (CAZ 6852) and 3044 (IIL 4821). Two
were found on the 323.
5. Olympians 5827 and 5109 were parked outside the workshop for most part of the day (although later 5827 operated the 317).
P.S. Why are the Wright-bodied Darts referred to as 'Bouncy Castles'?"
Nigel Peach writes
Volvo coach 4015 HIL 7595 was parked at the back of the bus station at lunchtime.
I notice that Alexander bodied Volvo B6 3244 M844 DDS has moved forward from the back row of the bus station. It's now on ramps and is presumably receiving attention. Sister 3242 has also been out of service in recent weeks. That has now progressed to very near the workshop!"
Arriva 3216 with no apparent route information waits for the traffic in Castle Street..
Even Desborough had its share of Christmas decorations, with Dart 3824 heading for the bus station.
Beckwith Coaches, Princes Risboro'
Sad news is the closure of Beckwith Coaches associated with the 290 service from Stokenchurch to London Victoria. This company had tried to maintain this service against mounting odds and the Traffic Commissioners revoked their operators licence at a recent hearing. The company ceased trading, ironically, on Friday 13th December 2002.
I understand that these two coaches are now awaiting buyers but this is not confirmed.
Carousel Buses, High Wycombe.
A visit to the depot today provided the information that FOUR Olympians have been purchased from Armchair, Brentford. These buses have been used on London routes 65 and 237 for several years and were new in 1991. They are all Leyland variants..
The new addition H563GKX is seen under preparation in the Carousel workshops.
H556GKX expected 8/1/03
H563GKX in service by 20/12/02
H564GKX expected 8/1/03
Any pictures of these buses on the 65 or 237 would be welcome.
As a result Metrobus 2295 will be replaced by the new arrival and additionally service 655 has been taken over from Beckwith following their closure.
Another step towards the "big bus company" image has been taken with the introduction uniforms and owner Steve Burns shows this off when caught by the camera in his office.
Carousel 283 passes the now functioning fountains in Frogmoor last Monday.
City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.
Friday evening saw a fine sight in high Street as the four remaining Mercedes Citaros arrived on delivery from Coventry. I don't know if it was intentional but all four came down the high Street just before 7pm, their destination blindds making a splash of colour to the rather drab evening. They were 822, 823, 826 and 828. 824 and 825 were already in service though it appears that 825 wrongly appeared as 822 at the launch earlier in the month. Can someone clarify what happened i wonder?
The full batch are to be 822-828 : MA-MF52OXF.
Mercedes Benz Citaro 824 - MC52OXF seen on its first day in service at Magdalen Street East.
824 seen from the offside rear lacking full branding and loading for a return to Water Eaton.
Trident 110 is the latest to gain the new livery and all three, 107, 109 and 110 await vinyls as we went to press.
Loaned Dart 413 in service on the 500 to Water Eaton operates its last journey for Oxford before being returned to its owners.
The old order with Trident 117 in the now old livery unloads in Magdalen Street East on service 300
currently operated in two halves in the peak times due to traffic delays.
Olympian 208 is presently in Cowley road paint shop being repainted white following its sale to Thames Travel.
Volvo coach 19 has also gained X90 livery making it the newest Oxford coach for this service.
The new coach order can now be confirmed as SEVEN Scania K1141B - Irizar Century examples for March 2003 delivery. They will have 46 seats and toilet facilities. The engine will be Euro III electronic with a ZF fully automatic five speed gearbox. This follows the successful trial of a similar vehicle earlier this year, in fact as long ago as early July!
First - Slough
A visit today revealed a full depot where the security guard very kinldy escorted me whilst I got a few photos. The Bluebird school bus was a real gem. The interior was somehow archaic.
If you love Darts this depot is a must for such fans!!
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford
As mentioned in the last news letter the 3 uses pink.in the new route branding though only one bus has this on the destination screen. Below 935 shows off the new image.
All operators enjoyed good loadings over Christmas. Here 942, with 1 route branding, laods at Carfax.
Chris Maxfield advises that MAN 924 has received the new corporate livery in place of Kidlington livery. The 7 will doubtless be the next route for revised branding.
Thames Travel, Wallingford.
Rob Willaims writes that one of the ex Chiltern Queens Darts has been repainted white. His photo appears below.
Worth's of Enstone
Brian Matthews writes "One from the western end of the O & C area, on one of the few days this week suitable for photography.
A smartly turned out Worth's Plaxton bodied Dennis, Y4WMS,
calls at Market Square, Witney to load passengers for the mid-morning run to Charlbury
- its journey starting a few minutes earlier from the nearby Sainsbury's superstore.
Paul Green writes "Christmas Greetings to you. I thought I would take you back to Christmas Eve, 1988, with these two photographs in Oxford.
South Midland, then part of the Transit Holdings group, had recently received new 25 seat Mercedes minibuses as replacements for Bristol VRs on the Oxford -Wantage services but heavy loadings in the rush up to Christmas proved too much for the new babies and four Leyland Nationals were rushed up from Devon one afternoon to provide welcome relief. Interestingly, of course, neither C.O.M.S. or South Midland had ever owned any of this type of bus. Three of the Nationals were mark ones in an attractive cream and red livery and would be sold to United in the New Year. The fourth was a mark two in N.B.C. red livery and would pass to Stagecoach's Hampshire Bus subsidiary also in 1989. Just another part of Oxford's fascinating history!
Ed Maun writes "I’ve just read Issue 12 which I find very interesting.
The routes operated by Thames Valley on behalf of the LGOC were as follows:-
W20 – Uxbridge – West Drayton Hounslow
W21 – Uxbridge – Denham – High Wycombe – West Wycombe
W22 – Uxbridge – Slough – Windsor
W23 – Uxbridge – Gerrards Cross – Amersham
These became 501 – 504 respectively in 1924 under the geographical numbering system as a result of the 1924 London Traffic Act.
There was also a W24 which was a joint operation with National that ran between Uxbridge and Watford, but this was short lived being finally abandoned at the end of 1922.
The reason for Thames Valley ceasing operations at Uxbridge was the LGOC’s decision not to renew the agreement between the two companies.
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
A visit to Binder's Yard near high Wycombe revealed some interesting buses and coaches.
Cliffs have a new Bova - YD02PXF.
Harris coaches have THREE ex Frames Rickards Dennis Javelins A11, 12 and 13FRX.
I welcome your
photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
This is a most interesting site which I do recommend
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002