Editorial & Features
Sunday 31st August 2008
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Editorial & Features - plus Picture Corner with a few surprises
Decker Bus crash probe continues
VOSA examiners and Staffordshire Police are continuing their investigation into yesterday’s coach crash (18 August) in which a 26-year-old Polish man died.
The incident in Alton, Staffs, saw a Plaxton 4000 Paramount double-decker coach (3085 KX ??) plunge down an embankment, coming to rest on its nearside in a garden.
The British driver, from the Peterborough area, is in a critical condition with significant leg injuries. He has provided a negative breath test and a blood sample has been taken.
Heavy lifting equipment is being brought in this afternoon (Tuesday) to remove the coach, which was operated by Decker Bus, of Whittlesey, near Peterborough. It was working a private hire from Lutton Farm, near Peterborough, carrying migrant farm workers on a day trip to Alton Towers.
In 2007, Decker Bus Company of South Mimms, Herts, took over contracted work previously undertaken by Reliance Coaches (Alec Head) of Lutton after the partners - June Head, Tony Head and Sandra Johns - had their 25-vehicle O-Licence revoked and they were disqualified from holding an O-licence for three years. It followed their fifth appearance at a Public Inquiry in six years where vehicle maintenance was an issue.
Subsequently, Anthea Head, trading as Decker Bus, successfully applied for a 10-vehicle O-Licence, based at the same Lutton site. The operation moved from Lutton to Whittlesey on 14 July, around the same time that the contracted relationship with the South Mimms-based Decker Bus Company, run by Tony Relph, expired and there is no now connection between the two similarly-named companies.
Rotala turns loss into profit
“A sizeable and profitable, integrated transport group” is the vision articulated by AIM-listed Rotala plc, as it announced its maiden profit today.
Revealing its interim results for the six months to 31 May, the coach and bus conglomerate – whose subsidiaries include Hallmark, Flights and the ‘Connect’ bus brands – says that the principal impact on the accounts has come from acquisitions. The most important of these being its £2m purchase of Go-Ahead’s Go West Midlands bus network in February, now operated as Diamond Bus.
Rotala’s unaudited interims show a £1.4m operating profit, compared with a £443,000 loss for the same period in 2007. Turnover was up by 65% to £15.8m.
The PLC has also won contracts worth £3.3m and hopes to announce further
contract wins “very soon.”
Chairman John Gunn says Rotala will “continue its quest for suitable new work” along with its “pursuit of more acquisition targets in our chosen areas of operation.”
Rotala’s shares, which had fallen from a 52-week high of 67p in February to a 52-week low of 50.75p, edged up slightly by 0.75p on the news, to close at 51.5p
Arriva UK bus profit jumps 20 per cent
Profits at Arriva’s UK Bus operation have jumped by 20%, from £37.8m in 2007 to £45.5m, the firm announced this morning.
Revealing its interim results for the six months to 30 June, Arriva says it has benefited from fuel hedging delaying the impact of increased prices.
Most of the profit increase comes from higher revenues (up from £399.7m to £454.5m) thanks in part to its £10m purchase of Tellings Golden Miller in February, while margins have increased slightly from 9.4 per cent to 9.9 per cent.
Overall the bus and rail group, of which UK Bus accounts for a third of its revenue, but 60 per cent of its profits, reported a £76.3m profit on a turnover of £1.443bn.
City traders appear to be pleased with the results. In the first few hours dealing this morning, Arriva’s share price was up by 31p (4.35 per cent) to 744p.
Bullocks deal completed
Stagecoach Manchester has bought the bus business of Bullocks Coaches. The current livery is being retained in the short term, but the services will operate under the Stagecoach banner and on its O-Licence.
Twenty-two vehicles are included in the deal and 46 staff are transferring. Initially they’re being based at Stagecoach Manchester’s Stockport depot. Work includes commercial and tendered routes as well as school contracts.
Plaxton reveals new coach
Plaxton has released an artist impression of its new coach for 2009. The image appears in this week’s routeONE, out on Thursday (14 August).
A radical new style has been chosen for the coach. As yet unnamed, it will be launched at Euro Bus Expo in November. Taking centre stage on the Plaxton stand, it will be one of two examples on tri-axle Volvo B12Bs expected to be displayed.
You can read more at the following link : http://www.plaxtonlimited.co.uk/plaxton/All_News_Items/press_releases/pr_115.html
Serious incident on the M40
A few weekends ago some stone throwing youths on an overbridge at the beginning of the M40 near Hillingdon caused significant damage to two coaches on the London-Oxford express service. The coaches involved were said to belong to the Oxford bus Company and Stagecoach in Oxfordshire. The driver of the Oxford Tube coach operated by Stagecoach received some unpleasant injuries when the stone thrown broke the windscreen on the driver's side. The police said that they were aware of the problem but were unable to do anything to stop such incidents.
One of the the regular passengers on the Oxford Tube wrote saying "As always, many thanks for all your continued hard work on the website, I am particularly enjoying the Lands End adventure - if you ever stop driving then you must write a book!
I just wondered if you had heard anything about an incident on Saturday night. I was on a Tube Oxford bound when we were flagged down at about 2330 around the M25 junction where another Tube and a COMS Espress were both on the hard shoulder. Our driver said had both been hit by stones and had smashed windows and were unable to continue. One of the passengers from the stranded Tube said they had heard a loud noise and the driver had immediately pulled onto the hard shoulder, where an Espress coach had already stopped. Being a Saturday night, the loading on all vehicles was very high and our coach only had room for about 20 of the stranded passengers. Looking this morning I could see that where we stopped was just after a small over-bridge - I wondered if both coaches had been the victim of someone throwing stones off the bridge onto the motorway?"
This is a worrying fact and is not the first time such incidents have happened. Even more worrying is the apparent inability of the authorities to do something about this. So often even if they do catch offenders courts just give a warning and a slap on the wrist and the offenders are free to do the same thing again.
One suspects that if a coach, fully laden, was hit by a missile, swerved off the road into a bridge or worse still off the motorway and several dozen passengers were killed or seriously injured, then something might be done, such is the state of our society in this new century.
A similar incident, this time in Luton
Glenn Knight sent this newspaper cutting which shows the problem is wider spread than one might imagine.
Unusual bus from Tracey Wright
I saw a very rare bus at the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim last Friday, it was an ex London Transport Daimler Fleetline DMS Reg Nr KUC943P, rebuilt as a coach by Ensignbus. Jim thinks it is the last survivor on the road.
Request for information on a Volvo tri-axle by Clark Steiner
Clark Steiner writes to ask about a bus in Peru? He says "I hope you can help me play detective. I met a man who drove buses in Peru back in 1992. he said he drove a tri-axle Volvo bus that seated 58 people. Do you know what model he possibly drove? I cant find photos of any early 1990s tri-axle Volvos."
Request for information on a MacBraynes book
Matthew writes "I wondered if i could be really cheeky and seek help from your readers:-
I'm looking for the out of print book called MacBraynes for the Highlands, it is about the bus company that was the forerunner to the Highland SBG and then Highland Country, and Rapsons / West Coast Motors as opposed to the shipping company of a similar name.
The fleet livery was a red with a mint green top, and they had some weird and wonderful array of vehicles, especially on some of the Island services.
If anyone has an idea I would be most appreciative"
Revised News Page format
Doug Spencer writes "Yes I did like the revised format, and found it easy to navigate around the various pages."
John Marsh writes "The new format is fantastic - I'm very impressed and honoured that you should have chosen one of my pictures for the first on your editorial and news page. The amount of work you put into this must be phenomenal and I really don't know how you find the time.
I know from other comments from time to time that I'm not the only one who appreciates all your efforts - all I can say is you deserve a medal!"
The Editor replies that he is most embarrassed but thank you.
Of passing interest
Gary writes to enclose a rather nice poem which I liked.
Few things from the 60’s and 70’s have survived.
Few things from the 60’s and 70’s have survived.
For us who were chasing buses around then.
Barbie coloured buses we were deprived.
Three pedals and high floors they were norm then.
Some had open platforms to the rear.
Others 4 wheels at the front to steer.
Express coaches were all made in Britain.
NBC Fleet names clearly written.
OMO was a washing powder.
No seat belts were fitted.
The ticket machines much louder
Clippies on the journey they knitted.
Buses in Great Yarmouth were Cream and Blue.
Now they are the same colour as in Crewe
Rural buses Poppy Red or Leaf Green.
Not a sight of Barbie, beachball or Aquamarine
The first bus to town, before it was light,
The last back home well into the night.
As many on a Sunday?, no not quite.
Now I am lucky to see one a fortnight.
Guy, Leyland, Duple, Bristol and Roe.
These famous companies will never go
What strange new names will appear?
Who the devils Iveco or Jonckheere?
Private Companies in London running Artics
That’s unheard of back in sixty-six.
Hong Kong Deckers on the sightseeing tour.
Our old buses were exported there before.
For Leicester it’s Maroon and Cream.
For Lincoln it’s got to be Green.
Labours won Sheffield the wheels are Red.
Losing these liveries we would dread
A Sunday trip to the sea.
Not one coach but two or three.
Slow roads and no motorway.
No wander it took all the day.
New buses then all the time.
Mostly from over in Lowestoft.
Now we only see London’s cast off.
With the middle door panelled off
School coaches were all clapped out
Nothing low floor or Turkish about.
Muck the driver about.
You would get a swift clout.
First was where you wanted to be in the queue
Because those open platforms were draughty when the wind blew
We saw more ice and snow
But you knew your bus would go.
By 2000 they said it would be better.
Goodbye ECW, Bedford and Ford forever
Someone should have sent Maggie that letter.
Deregulated bus services again in 1986 never.
Farewell LTE, NBC, SBG, PTE, Black and White,
Yelloway SUT and Greenslades to name but a few
Who the devils Megabus, Veolia, Centrebus, and Red Kite
Arriva, First and Go-Ahead are offspring of the new kids that grew
Never mind we shouldn’t get glum.
We’ve still got Stagecoach to come.
By 2008 things may become clear
But we will still moan about it I fear.
We're the survivors.
Food for thought would you not agree?
Thank you Gary.
Bucks County Show 28th September by Gavin Francis
Heyfordian were doing the shuttle service. Ex West Midlands Metrobus and also Arriva Mix 106 bus from Aylesbury. (Difficult to photograph!)
To & From Heathrow - a question
I only just noticed when browsing a recent leaflet produced by BAA Heathrow about getting to that airport. A rather smart black and white leaflet with colour produced in March 2008 seems to miss any reference to the Carousel operated A40 from High Wycombe. I wonder why?
Seen on the M40 approaching junction 7 heading northwards - Apcoa Park & Ride Heathrow Scania 41 and 44 T756JHE & T357JWA on ***MJ tradeplates. 12th August 2008
From Ken Aveyard
Ken refers to the recent incident in which a Wilts & Dorset open top bus overturned.
"The WD Palatine was on the private road in Studland heading for the Sandbanks Ferry on its way to Bournemouth. Subject to the ongoing Police investigation, we understand that a Porsche driven at high speed overcooked a bend and drifted in to the path of the bus. The driver pulled over left to avoid a collision, but the Porsche hit the front offside panel under the drivers cab and the panel immediately behind the front wheel, before continuing and hitting the Golf following the bus, knocking the car off the road.
The Palatine's nearside wheels went off the verge in to the soft ground, and a slow rollover began. The presence of high bushes alongside the bus slowed the fall, and being open top there was no weight of glass and a roof to accelarate the fall. By the time the passengers fell out of the top deck, they were about 8-10 feet from the ground and fell on to a bed of heather and gorse about 2 foot deep. Two passengers received fractures, and they were inside the bus and fell against the side.
This was a very fortunate and very rare scenario as a closed top bus would have caused more injuries.
The Porsche driver has been arrested and bailed on suspicion of dangerous driving."
From Stephen Le Bras
Pictures by Gavin Francis
Stephen writes to advise "There are now 6 new Big Bus open toppers running around London- DA201-6. They are Volvo B9/Optare (East Lancs designed).
Details are : DA201 to 206 are PF08URP/URR/URS/URU,URV,URW."
From Richard Sharman
Wagamama, a restaurant located just off Cornmarket Street has just reopened and to promote this fact there are a number of these rather nice tuc tuc type bikes on the streets, the legend on the back reads 'jump in, I'll take you'.
Wheels of Nuneaton who trade as Midland Red Coaches operate "heritage tours" to places like Oxford in this now very rare Willowbrook bodied Leyland.
Seen at Oxford Services on Wednesday.
From Ed Maun
I’ve just been reading news page 271 and was intrigued to see a photo of HE 12 the 1913 Leyland S3 single deck at the recent Crich Leyland gathering. It reminded me that this bus was loaned to the for-runner of Thames Valley, namely the Reading Thames Valley branch of British Automobile Traction, in 1915 to inaugurate operations in the area between Maidenhead, Reading and Streatley. It returned to Barnsley & District towards the end of 1916. While operating in the Reading area it was adorned with “British” as a fleet name.
1913 S3.30.T Reg. HE 12 Chassis No. S253/1020
From Ian Brown
The Milton Keynes Coachway, one of the busiest interchanges in the UK and located only yards from the M1 junction 14 of the M1, has been closed since earlier this year. It will re-appear in a new format in April next year. A temporary coachway is in use made up of a series of Portacabins located at Campbell Park much closer to MK centre. Journey time from J14 to Coachway is about ten minutes - longer during rush hour. There is a NX office, toilets, security and waiting room there.
Ian adds re the 737 "Did you ever discover why Herts CC Intalink had dropped one complete 737 diagram off their latest 198 page timetable?"
The answer from my side is no I didn't.
From Alex Hornby
I thought your readers may like to know……
There was great excitement at Bluestar HQ today, as we formally announced the upcoming partnership of Bluestar and Uni-Link starting in the new academic year!
A story is already available on-line at http://www.bluestarbus.co.uk/news.shtml and then by clicking on the Uni-Link button on the right hand side.
I note Nigel Barnes-Evans’ comments in OCBP regarding changes to Uni-Link in Southampton from a few weeks ago and I hope you do not mind me taking this opportunity to clarify the situation.
The contract was won by Solent Blue Line Ltd, which remains the legal entity of Bluestar here in Eastleigh (just to complicate matters, Bluestar services run from the former Marchwood Motorways base at Totton carry MM legal lettering!).
From the start of new term, buses will be housed at Barton Park in Eastleigh, sharing premises with Bluestar. They will carry SBL legal lettering and O-licences. The network remains a University-sponsored contract service, and the University are obviously keen to maintain the Uni-Link identity, as we are, given the deservedly high reputation the service has in the city. We are looking forward to several exciting initiatives that will improve bus travel across Southampton for passengers, particularly a move toward integrated ticketing options as the year progresses.
The current fleet will continue to be used until the new Scania vehicles arrive although the one Omni-City and two Citaro single deckers will be retained after the new deliveries begin in service. The new fleet will give welcome increases in capacity across the whole Uni-Link network.
As part of these changes, Bluestar will be directly responsible for running the City-Link service, which is the free bus between Central Station and Town Quay. The East Lancs-bodied Dart SLFs will continue on this service and are expected to be re-packaged at to coincide with the change of operator. A mock-up of the new livery appears on our new service change section within the www.bluestarbus.co.uk news page.
We’re all really excited at the news and what this all means not just for our company but for the travelling public of Southampton. Both operations have much to learn from each other, and it will be mutually beneficial bringing them together.
Meanwhile, Oxford-based readers in particular may be interested to see that Bluestar 622, a former OBC Volvo B10B, has been repainted into a special livery to support CLIC Sargent, a children’s cancer charity.
Many thanks for the excellent web site, as ever! Alex Hornby.
From Edward Neal
I have just returned from a Walking Holiday in the Jungfrau and used the Bus. Perhaps the most Scenic Bus Route I have ever been on - Fantastic Views, hairpin bends and very very narrow lanes !! The bus even had to reverse up hill about half a mile to get in position at the Waldpiste Hotel.
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A few interesting and unusual pictures from Gavin Francis for this issue's Photo Corner.
Last of the line - Gavin Francis caught up with the ultimate Route master RML2760.
More buses advertising Narnia - by Gavin Francis.
Glenn Knight has sent two pictures of the current state of the old Luton Bus Station as it appears in late August 2008.
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