Sunday 1st October 2006
next update week ending 14th October 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
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The last few days have been ones of sunshine and showers and today, the annual Amersham Running Day, the showers were more like downpours. However I am delighted with the response from readers who have sent in a goodly selection of pictures to make a really nice piece for this week's page.
Other interesting happenings this week relate to the introduction of Wi-Fi by Stagecoach on the Oxford Tube which is fully covered under the operators heading and the news that Oxford Bus will introduce double deck Trident buses on their 35 route also covered under the operator heading.
We also have an interesting piece from John Hodgkins, Transport & Accessibility Manager of Buckinghamshire County Council who brings us up to date on what has happened to their fleet of Optare Solos.
Megabus certainly surprised me with a full page colour advert in Friday's Daily Telegraph, extolling the virtues of their Neoplan Skyliners as green machines vs a pseudo Boeing 737 which was billed as a gas guzzler. The green machine "bus" was rated per passenger, between Glasgow and London, as using fuel 2.3kg with emissions of 6.2kg CO - cheapest ticket price £10.50 including fees and taxes (27th September 2006) or the gas guzzler (Aircraft) per passenger, between Glasgow and London, as using fuel 14.9kg with emissions of 46.9kg CO - cheapest ticket price £40.99 including fees and taxes (27th September 2006).
The ad went to say that Megabus is easy on the wallet and easy on the planet.
One has to admit that this is quite an advert and would indeed make those who read it think again.
On the subject of Park & Ride in Oxford news was given in this last weekend's Oxford Times that the new Redbridge waiting room facilities were scheduled to open on December 4th at an investment of £400,000. Passengers will have state of the art facilities similar to those provided at Water Eaton. The facility is hoped to encourage people to leave their cars outside the city centre and provide welcome comfort for Christmas shoppers.
There were also quite a number of letters relating to buses in Queen Street and what people thought should happen in the Westgate developments. One fact should be remembered and that is people like to get as close to their destination as possible and when they have heavy bags not have to walk too far. The attraction of the bus cannot be overstated when it provides a convenient, regular interval and reliable alternative to the car. This includes Park & Ride services and if people have to walk too far to get their bus they will resort to the car wherever possible.
Reading the letters I had sympathy with one from Philip Kirk of Oxford Bus who highlighted the problem of where to put the buses, mentioning Worcester Street. This would be a long walk for older people compared to Queen St.
Other readers suggested running through services between say Kidlington and Abingdon but the point of pick up is the one the needs solving regardless of where, when and how the services run. The original idea of a proper bus station at the back of the Westgate was I think one of the best.
Surely a city of the size and importance deserves a proper bus station? (One cannot really say that Gloucester Green is a bus station and it is woefully inadequate and unable to sustain any increase in services.)
What happened to the BCC Solos
John Hodgkins, Transport & Accessibility Manager of Buckinghamshire County Council writes regarding the Solos saying "In response to your question on last week's page, the five Optare Solos which are owned by Buckinghamshire County Council have remained in Arriva's fleet for use on contracted bus services in Aylesbury. Two of the five have recently returned from Unitec in a new silver livery and (as of today) both are now branded as Silver Rider and in service on the Silver Rider route between Aylesbury and Fairford Leys, which has seen an increase in passenger numbers to the point where the existing Alero minibuses are no longer big enough.
The remaining three are being retained in green and will be rebranded shortly for an upgrade of route 4 in Aylesbury later this year, with a relaunch as Green Route 4.
(When I was in Wycombe last Saturday I noted that 0447 had indeed received the new branding mentioned above by John. Ed.)
All five vehicles remain in the ownership of BCC and it is planned that they will remain on these contracted routes for the foreseeable future.
Ed Maun writes "Optare Solo 0449 has been repainted silver and is branded for the Silver Rider service in Aylesbury. It was operating that service on Tuesday 26/9."
(I look forward to pictures of these silver Solos. Ed.)
Virgin Trains by John Hodgkins
John writes "On an entirely separate subject, you have commented on the removal of the personalised "VC" registrations from the coaches used on the Virgin Trains contract from Milton Keynes. These registrations seem to follow me about - when I was MD of G&G Travel in Leamington Spa in the early 90's all of the coaches in our sister company's fleet (Vanguard Coaches of Bedworth) carried cherished VC plates which had been purchased by Steve Cook, the previous owner of the company, before its sale to Western Travel Group around 1991. In 1993, when Stagecoach acquired the Western Travel Group, some of the coaches bearing these registrations passed to the short-lived private hire fleet of Stagecoach Midland Red in Rugby and Leamington, whilst two of the Leyland Tigers (of which 9737VC was one) were allocated to Stagecoach in Banbury. On disposal of these vehicles some time later, the cherished registrations were retained by Stagecoach and transferred to the Virgin Trains vehicles."
18th Amersham & District Running Day - 1st October 2006
Today saw the 18th annual running day and this year route 724 is 40 years old. Every effort was made to schedule a service between Watford and High Wycombe via Amersham - the original route south of Watford. This will be 29 years to the day since MA Garage took over duties from HE - High Wycombe Garage which closed the previous day, 30 September 1977.
Nigel Peach caught RF281 at the new bus station in high Wycombe on the above mentioned 724 service.
Nigel writes "I expect you have a lot of photos but I attach a selection from different locations. It was a shame about the weather - got caught out a couple of times, but sometimes it does add a bit to a photo (or maybe that's just trying to look on the bright side!)."
GS17 (MXX 317) on route 316 at Ley Hill
RF433 (MXX 410) on route 394 at Greta Missenden
RLH48 (MXX 248) on route 336 at Rickmansworth (in the pouring rain!)
(I remember we saw this bus re-creating the 336 some years ago when commemorating the passing of the route to Carousel).
Brighton & Hove FUF 63, possible the oldest vehicle on display?
RF366 (MXX 8) terminated at Wycombe Bus Station, showing route 398 (which used to terminate in Beaconsfield. I'm sure the purists would have asked him to show route 305 on the final stretch from Beaconsfield to HW!!)
Further pictures were received from Peter Edgar who sent those shown below saying "the day was a mixture of wind, rain and sun but I took the following pictures which catch a flavour of the day."
RT604 was working a High Wycombe service when caught in Chesham.
Kept as a surprise until the last minute RT3496 carried blue blinds for a 353 express service to Windsor, seen here at Chesham
EFE have promised us an RLH next year and I sure it will be a very popular model. Here Timebus RLH32 works a 336 service from Amersham.
Peter Edgar entitled this picture Tube or Bus?
Another contributor was Paul Davies who sent this really nice picture of the Alder Valley National which returned to its old haunts from its home near the Watercress line.
Paul Davis took this picture of RP21 taking a break at Amersham when the sun was shining.
The other side of today was the very heavy rain and this picture of two RTs gives some idea of the wet day.
I love this picture of a little GS, nr 13, approaching Coleshill on its way to Beaconsfield. Picture by Paul Davis.
Leaning into the corner and even the job, Paul Davis caught RF667 starting out on a trip from Amersham.
A general view of the day by Paul Davis.
This time Paul took a picture of RTL 139 waiting time at Amersham.
I took a number of pictures of the day. My first journey was from High Wycombe to Amersham via Beaconsfield on an RF. This was 366 which is a very nicely presented bus indeed carefully driven and giving a very nice ride.
We left the new bus station on the dot of 09:38 and after winding our way through the town headed out along the A40 towards Loudwater and Beaconsfield. We had about 15 people on bard and I couldn't help noticing the poster about decimalisation which took place in February 1971.
Makes you think doesn't it.
The RF has a somehow cosy atmosphere though there is not much room for a large driver.
The bus had old fashioned trafficator arms which had been cleverly converted to become flashing light ones. These our driver used correctly and everyone was aware since they made a very loud bleeping noise.
After passing through Beaconsfield, over the railway where a Chiltern Turbo was picking up in the station, we turned right into Ledborough Lane. I asked if we could stop for a picture which caused some consternation as our crew we anxious to be on time but they kindly stopped where the picture below was taken.
There was little or no room to alight at this point, leaving one to wonder how people manage, especially in the dark.
The RF has stopped at a bus stop believe it or not.
Rejoining the main road between Beaconsfield and Amersham we carried on for a while before turning off to serve Coleshill a pleasant village to the west. It was not long before we were back on the main road and heading towards Amersham where we passed the old depot, now a Tesco supermarket and then faced the climb to the station and out terminus. The RF performed well, especially on this climb and I think everyone enjoyed their ride.
I then had the opportunity to catch up with those buses at the Amersham end of the route.
The pictures above give an idea of what was on offer today.
Michael Wootten was there with his very smart Bristol VR.
My return to High Wycombe was by way of Great Missenden and a 359 service operated by a long serving High Wycombe Leyland National, KCG627L. This was crewed by the two owners who were turned out in Alder Valley uniforms correct to the period of 1973. The bus is in excellent condition and ran very well indeed showing a good turn of speed, around 50 mph on the main road. On arrival at Great Missenden we changed to a 27 bound for High Wycombe.
The National shows 27 HIGH WYCOMBE as it waits time at Great Missenden.
A non stop run followed and we entered High Wycombe along Frogmoor passing the old bus station by the railway bridge. As we turned the roundabout and headed for the new bus station one wondered if the old bus was thinking to herself, where my old bus station gone?
Ghost of Christmas past and Christmas to come !!!!
Not much chance of a National getting in here now - the Newlands Bus Station on 1st October 2006.
Somehow the National looked quite a home in the new bus station.
The crew had quite a nice layover in the new bus station before time came to depart and of the National went into the rain.
I saw the bus going round the traffic island on the A40 more than once and I think the National made a new route for its return to Great Missenden.
Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 1st October 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 1st October 2006
Mark Munday wrote twice regarding the removal
of buses from the Cressex depot. On the 29th he said "Dart
3811, the long time store bus at Lincoln Rd depot, High Wycombe was towed away.
Volvo 3080 was
going as well, but it was still in the yard at 18:45 that evening."
Mark then added that on the 30th, Saturday a wrecker from PSV Rochdale arrived at Lincoln Rd to pick up 3080. However as it started to lift it off the ground one of the hydraulic ramp seals gave way and shot fluid all over the yard. They left without 3080 and are said to be returning soon.
Mike Penn writes "I was slightly puzzled by the comment in this week's web page which implies that Arriva The Shires had four gas buses. In fact there were 17, all now converted to normal diesel power. The original ones purchased for the 321 route (Luton - Watford) were 3270-6 (V270-6 HBH). When the route was extended to Rickmansworth more were acquired from Arriva Scotland West and were numbered, in order of receipt, 3277-9 (T491/2/5 KGB) and 3269 (T493 KGB). Later still 4490/1 (T490/4 KGB) arrived, then followed by 4426-9 (S426-9 MCC) from Arriva Cymru, these latter ones having been used on park & ride services in Chester. Of interest is the fact that the original ones are now being painted in Arriva inter-urban livery with route 321 branding. I am attaching a photo of 3275 taken in Luton on September 21st.
On the subject of the red and black bands painted on Arriva vehicles before disposal there doesn't appear to be any consistent policy on this. Theobolds of Dunstable have an ex Arriva Leyland Olympian (F580 SMG) which they have been running on school services for over a year still in Arriva livery with the red band. This was new to Alder Valley South but came into Arriva ownership following the various reorganisations in the Guildford area. I am attaching a photo of this taken in Toddington on September 6th.
One further point concerns Bristol VR BKE 847T which was seen at Duxford. This is now privately preserved and the legal lettering reads ex Arriva The Shires Ltd. So there is only one VR left with Arriva The Shires now (5033)."
Glenn Knight sent this picture of 5000 attending today's Amersham run.
Many thanks to Mike for that clarification.
Glenn Knight writes "I have taken a photo today of G286 UMJ 5116 on the 321 Watford at Luton International Airport and a little accident of P171 KBD 52371 & F636 LMJ 5086 driver did not look in mirrors."
Last Saturday things were looking up for Arriva staff as the normal Mercedes was missing and in its place a Park & Ride VDL was being used.
Carousel meets Arriva in the Eden.
Paul Davis wrote "..............whilst in High Wycombe this morning (Thurs 28Sep) I saw Metrobus B101WUL being towed away - presumably to a final resting place?"
Gavin Francis took this picture of Trident T403 on a 339 working, the first picture of one of these buses in service
Ex Glasgow Olympian VDA 34279 leaves Wycombe on a 74 working to Slough last Saturday.
Motts of Aylesbury
Motts provided this Volvo coach GT03MTT for Wycombe Wanderers supporters last Saturday and Gavin Francis took this picture in Accrington.
Sadly WFC lost this match. Gavin thinks this coach may have come from Maynes?
Interesting news to emerge from Oxford Bus this week is that Trident double deckers will shortly take up service on the 35/A routes between Oxford and Abingdon/Didcot.
A total of eight Tridents from Go North East will join the Oxford fleet, all being low floor buses but with highbridge bodies. As such they will not be able to pass under the Rail Bridge on Botley Road and repeating an oft used system will gain 9xx fleet numbers. (Remember Fleetlines, Atlanteans and Titans - also the Atlanteans which came from the North East some years ago with ECW highbridge bodies.)
The Tridents carry Plaxton President N47/28F single door bodies new in 2001 and ex GNE 3883 has already been with Oxford for sometime now. It is currently away for repaint and the remaining seven will join the fleet by very early next year.
This will bring welcome additional capacity to this busy route.
3883 is registered NX51UCL and was previously at Chester-le-Street where it was part of a batch from 3881-3895 of which 12 are/were allocated to that depot. Indeed one wonders if the consecutive batch 3881-8 will move to Oxford?
The final conversion of this route will take place after some further work on tree pruning and a further revision of the "humps" in Kennington.
The three Volvo/Excalibur coaches which moved to Birmingham are still there but only one is presently in use.
Regarding the repainting of 641 in the latest fleet livery following the appearance of 620 in similar hue. Others will now follow.
I would like to thank Philip Kirk, Managing Director of Oxford Bus for the foregoing information who today advised me that the first Trident (ex GNE 3883) is now back in the new City livery and looks extremely smart. It is now waiting for its vinyls.
Gavin Francis caught up with 808, the latest Volvo B10BLE to return refurbished.
Irizar PB NXL28 leaves the new Wycombe Bus Station en route to Oxford last Saturday.
Most if not all coaches use the A40 through Stokenchurch to reach the M40 towards Oxford,
something National Express said could not happen when the refused to reinstate the stop in Stokenchurch !!!!!!
John Marsh writes "Optare Solo 109 has received the new livery.
And a rear view of 518, Optare Delta the first in the new livery."
York Bus Driver writes ".... the photo of 34772 is captioned as being a Peterborough vehicle. It is actually a Northampton bus, used alongside 34586-34595 and 34771 on service 1 Bus Station - Rectory Farm, on which most of this batch are branded. (34773 I know is unbranded, and I think at least one of the 345xx is as well)."
Branding Northampton style on 55 reg 34772. Like the wheel trims?
News from Stagecoach headquarters regarding the Oxford Tube reads
Stagecoach to pilot Wi-Fi technology - 27 September 2006
All 25 state-of-the-art vehicles in the Oxford Tube fleet are being equipped with Wi-Fi technology supplied by Telabria Networks and the system will be in operation from 1 October.
Oxford Tube, which runs a 24-hour service every day of the year with coaches leaving up to every 10 minutes at peak times, is Europe's most frequent express service.
The entire fleet was replaced two years ago at a cost of £8million - the UK’s biggest investment in new vehicles on a single route - allowing more than 6,000 passengers a day to travel on the service to London.
The Neoplan Skyliner 81-seat double-decker coaches are fully wheelchair-accessible with low-floors and air-conditioning. Featuring reclining seats, generous legroom, seatbelts, toilets and powerpoints for laptops and mobile phones, they are also equipped with CCTV technology for additional passenger security.
Stagecoach’s trial of the Wi-Fi technology will also include the first major deployment of Telabria’s mTracker vehicle tracking system. It will give Stagecoach a real-time at-a-glance view of its fleet and precise locations of individual vehicles on the road via the web.
Brian Souter, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “We have made a huge investment in Oxford Tube over the past two years and this new Wi-Fi pilot puts Stagecoach at the forefront of offering next-generation on-board services for coach customers.
“Many of our passengers on Oxford Tube are commuters and students, so having free access to email and the internet will be a significant benefit. The technology will also help us track the progress of vehicles on the network and advise customers of any issues that are likely to affect our services.
Jim Baker, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Telabria Networks, said: “Access to a broadband connection is becoming increasingly important for travellers. Telabria’s MobilAPi mobile broadband router delivers Wi-Fi service to passengers, connecting to the Internet via the latest generation of cellular data networks at broadband speeds.
“We are delighted that Stagecoach has chosen our market-leading technology to deploy across the Oxford Tube fleet, raising the bar for cutting-edge passenger services.
The results of the trial will be assessed and, if successful, the system will be made available on a permanent basis.
Oxford Tube services run up to every 10 minutes between Oxford and London – stopping at Lewknor, Hillingdon, Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill, Marble Arch and Victoria.
A secure e-commerce website, www.oxfordtube.com, allows customers to book single, return and period tickets online as well as access timetable and service information.
Oxford Tube also supplies breakfast and newspapers on its early morning commuter services between Oxford & London.
The new branding is being trialled on 50108 which is pictured below.
Wi-Fi is here
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
Tim Hall from Swindon writes "I’ve just been to the USA and seen some British built double decker's - Both photos are of Alexander Dennis Enviros
The red one is Grayline in San Francisco 61616
The second one is Las Vegas Deuce 218, the Las Vegas Enviros, of which there are 50, are very popular with drivers and passengers and it seems there will be some more.
HISTORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS
If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at
Coming events & models
DVD s by Robin Clare
The full details of DVDs available from Robin Clare may be found at his web site :- http://www.robinclare.co.uk/
Latest Citaro models revealed
Dave Rogers sent the following press release.
CREATIVE MASTER NORTHCORD - PRESS RELEASE
Mercedes-Benz Citaro - ukbus 5004 Arriva Manchester - ukbus 5007 Oxford Bus
Creative Master Northcord Limited is proud to release two brand new liveries on its well known Mercedes-Benz Citaro casting. Both models have received significant, yet different, modifications to the tooling in order to represent, as close to 100% accuracy as possible, the real buses on the roads.
ukbus 5004 represents fleet number Arriva North West’s 2851 (CX55 EAA). This Mercedes Citaro is one of three such vehicles with dedicated route branding for service 700 and with the destination set to Manchester. The model features a redesigned interior layout that includes the reduced seating capacity and luggage racks.
Starting on 29th October 2005, Arriva North West’s service 700 runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly Railway Station to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. For the service, 3 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased and numbered 2851-3. They were painted in the same style and colours as the Scania OmniCity buses that already operated between John Lennon and Liverpool city centre.
ukbus 5007 represents fleet number 830 (X13 OXF) of Oxford Bus Company. 830 entered service in December 2003, to upgrade the X3 & X13 Oxford – Abingdon services. The bus was painted in a new and distinctive livery designed by Best Impressions.
ukbus 5007 features the smooth, curved windscreen with the destination display set behind the windscreen glass rather than the protruding destination found on the Park & Ride Citaros in the fleet. This feature is one of the standard specifications on other Citaros that the Go-Ahead Group has purchased.
Mercedes-Benz Citaro ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are each a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the square-mounted, double-glazed windows and the livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. Another main feature on both models is the extensive portrayal of handrails. The headlight / indicator units at the front and indicator / tail light units at the rear are made of individual components to look more realistic.
The brand new single-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus models will be distributed by John Ayrey Die-Casts Limited (UK), Porte Publishing Company (Japan) and Concorde Hobby Shop (HK) respectively. The ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are limited to 1700 pieces worldwide respectively.
Model Buses for Sale
prices revised with immediate effect
I have a revised deal on Models for your readers...
Each of the following models are available for the following price :
Each Model = £10.00
Postage is £4.00 regardless of the number of models.
UKBUS 1014 - CREATIVE MASTER OXFORD P&R TRIDENT
UKBUS 5002 - CREATIVE MASTER OXFORD P&R CITARO
UKBUS 2012 - CREATIVE MASTER BROOKES BUS TRIDENT
CORGI ORIGINAL OMNIBUS OXFORD ESPRESS EXCALIBUR
Once again this offer is only available by emailing me direct at email@example.com
More models are for sale on my eBay store, http://www.modelsmk.co.uk/shop
Would readers who respond to the above please quote my site when doing so.
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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
The Oxford Bus Museum
A web site which has paintings of buses.
The latest handbook from BBF was
on sale at Cobham and was the ever popular Stagecoach edition now in its 13th
As in earlier editions it includes the 2006 new bus orders.
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002