Issue 23
(OBP-239)

Sunday 9th March 2003

next update week commencing 17th March 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.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news please
let me know on
malcolmhc@aol.com

The weather on Saturday was far from good for photography and the wind had a bite that left one feeling chilled to the bone. A number of marches construed to interrupt services in both Oxford and London, though the delays were minimal. When operating an early London service, I was amazed to see an enormous number of mounted police trotting along Oxford Street and turning into Portman Street. There must have been at least 50 and where they were going was not clear. This was sometime after 0730. Later on my second trip I saw a group of marchers heading up from Victoria to Park Lane and this seemed to explain why all the coach waiting bays on Park Lane were suspended. This latter event did cause some delays to services leaving London and suffice to say some stepping up of the coaches of both Oxford Bus and The Oxford Tube to maintain headways.

A number of you help add to the page each week with contributions and this week is no exception. A note from Colin Grafham makes it all worthwhile when he says "Firstly a big thank you for your excellent web site. It's one of couple of sites I make a point of visiting each week and it's totally responsible for my visit to Oxford yesterday (1st March), which I may add was very enjoyable. I live near Haslemere (the Surrey one not the Buckinghamshire one!) so the journey by train was quite easy thanks to Virgin Trains direct service."  You will find some photos taken by Colin further down this report and I am pleased to be able to encourage visitors to Oxford.

I had to go to Reading on Friday afternoon and whilst taking a few photos outside Reading Rail Station came upon another correspondent, James Cusworth. James brought me up to date on goings on in Reading but interestingly said he had yet to visit Oxford. don't leave it too long James, you will enjoy the Mercedes I am sure. I am including a few photos from that visit but space is limited and it is slightly out of our area.

Whilst working X90 on Saturday I had chance to see my first "03" coach in Victoria Coach Station. On the subject of "03" registration I must comment on how few I have seen, one on Friday and three on Saturday. Of course I was in Amsterdam until Thursday evening but last Saturday, the 1st, I saw none at all. It does seem that the old enthusiasm for a car with the new plate is waning and I often wonder how much the DVLC has lost now that rather anonymous groups of letters are all that can be offered. I think people liked the number with their initials. I may, however, be totally of course on this one... but!


My first "03", an Iveco/Beulas working a National Express Birmingham service last Saturday.

Last week I mentioned the one hour it took to leave Oxford, London bound. On Saturday morning at 0540 it took less than 15 minutes taking it at a very leisurely pace. I was interested to read in the Oxford Times this week that plans are afoot for a change to the roundabout at Headington on the Eastern by-pass. A "through" road cutting the centre of the island is planned to take traffic on the A40 on a direct cut plus a lot of traffic lights. Bus priorities will also be given but even with the help of a map it was difficult to see how the new plans could ease traffic at the present bottleneck. In my humble opinion nothing short of an underpass for the A40 will help the situation which seems set to get worse in the years to come. I suppose cost is the all important factor but congestion seems set to continue affecting all users alike. The plans for Handy Cross at High Wycombe are far more ambitious but there is perhaps far more space to play with.

As can be seen from the photo above the weather on Saturday seemed to conspire to keep people away from Oxford and this shot taken around 1430 shows how deserted the city was at this point. Even the open topper lacked its customary stalwarts who seem to turn out whatever the weather.


0925 on Saturday morning shows Oxford's 654 with the road almost to itself, traffic less clear down to Rail Station

One sadness is that of the disappearing bus stations and depots and the use of less purpose built facilities. It was along time since I had been to Reading and i had not appreciated that the old Bee Line Bus station had closed many years ago. What was a surprise was that it is still there in a disused and dilapidated state. Whilst the current on street facilities are adequate the two pictures below show the old and new with the uncovered stops exposing intending passengers to the elements.


The old Reading Bus Station, what a waste of valuable space in a city centre!


I am sure they will move this coach before asking passengers to board.
First Berkshire M794TDP Awaiting its next duty outside the Rail-Air Terminal.

I have received the following letter from Oxfordshire County Council which bears publishing to answer many questions raised by readers.


Dear Sir,

Further to the discussion on your web-site of destination displays, or, more accurately, the lack of them on some services, it may be helpful for me to set out the County Council's position.

Our Standard Conditions of Contract state quite clearly that both a destination and a route number must be displayed on every service for which we provide an operating subsidy; these must be clearly legible at a reasonable distance, and, if the service operates before 07.30 or after 17.00, they must be illuminated during the hours of darkness.

This requirement was further refined in our Information Strategy for Bus Services (published in 2002), which now forms part of our Standard Conditions, and stipulates that the route number must be at least 200mm high and the lettering at least 125mm high. These standards apply to all bus services in the county, subsidised or otherwise. However, where services only operate in darkness for short periods each year, exemptions to the illumination rule are permitted, but only with the prior agreement of Council officers.

Failure to reach what we believe to be simple and essential requirements can result in the withholding of subsidy payments where applicable, and, regrettably, this happens all too frequently. Nonetheless, it is our firm belief that passengers (and prospective passengers) are unlikely to board a vehicle unless they know where it is going!

I hope this is helpful.

Ian Connick
Public Transport Information Manager
Oxfordshire
County Council
 

I feel sure that Mr Connick's letter will provoke some response but please note that this is the view expressed by Oxfordshire County Council and may not apply to other authorities in our area.

Edmund Tresham writes regarding the National Express re-branding. He says "National Express is about to re-brand all its operations, except Euro Lines (which will have a smaller National Express logo added to its existing livery) as National Express. Additional sub names will be added to this e.g. shuttle and airports, as appropriate. In addition to all this there will be a new logo, which is made up of two big overlapping dots one red and one blue with a white arrow linking the two. The base fleet colour remains white. I can see the logic of merging the different brands as  those unfamiliar  must have wondered why apparently similar services to or from the airports were either National Express, Flightlink, Jetlink, Speedlink or Airbus. It will be sad to see the end of the double N logo 'eNblem' although I suspect it is likely to remain in seat patterns for some time yet."

(I did not see any of the re-branded coaches whilst in VCS twice last Saturday Ed.)

I look forward to your continued support with news and photos for this page. The many very positive comments make it all worth while.

Malcolm Crowe, March 9th 2003.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

News of the local companies - 9th March 2003

Arriva serving The Shires

Nigel Peach writes "I've not reported much recently as other people spot things before I do!


Arriva Minibus 2248 on route 260 passing Worcester Road junction


From my visit to Reading on Friday last, Volvo 3843 waits time
on a 329 working to High Wycombe via Henley.


Arriva 5101 on route 280 at Oxford Railway Station
in all over advert for a local radio station


Colin Cooke sent this photo of a Luton based Olympian working Rail Replacement at Amersham
5136 waits in the afternoon sunshine.


My Arriva correspondents have been quiet this week and just the photos above have been sent in or taken by me.

Steve Warwick provided details of the allocations a few weeks ago and I detail below the current allocation to High Wycombe.

Optare Solo 0442
Mercedes  2196, 2197, 2198  and poss 2171
Lynx  3062, 3070, 3345
Volvo B6   3110, 3115, 3126, 3127
Scania   3144, 3145, 3146 3163, 3169
Dart   3101, 3242, 3243, 3244, 3365, 3811, 3812, 3813, 3814, 3815, 3816, 3817, 3818
Dart SLF  3821, 3822, 3824, 3825, 3826, 3827
B10B   3841, 3842, 3843, 3844, 3853, 3854, 3855
Olympian  5106, 5107, 5108, 5134, 5135, 5825, 5826, 5827, 5828, 5829, 5830, 5831, 5832, 5833, 5834, 5835

Total 59

Please let me know of any changes or missing allocations.

Carousel, High Wycombe.

I am advised by the company that an ex Reading Metrobus, 186, has been purchased for service.

City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.


Colin Grafham took this shot of Olympian 221 on Football service.


Colin Grafham took this shot of Olympian 224 leaving the Rail Station on Football service.

Further to many comments on the new Citaros, I received the following from Michael Chadwick who had sampled the new buses recently. He says "In last week's news you asked what people thought of Citaro's. I travelled on one of COMS's at the weekend on the Thornhill P+R.

The interior is rather claustrophobic with its sloping roof, and, sat at the back, the engine was rather gruff. The gearbox seemed to change up at quite low revs, making acceleration rather sluggish (and the entry onto Headington roundabout even dodgier than normal!); changes up were very smooth, but changes down caused a noticeable surge [reminiscent of the National but nowhere near as bad], and since top gear was reached so quickly and every single change down through the gearbox registered, this quickly became rather trying. On the whole, then, I wasn't all that impressed!"

Well everyone must have opinion and I must say this is one of the first people to have a poor impression of these buses. Regarding the noise at the back, I think so many new rear engined buses and coaches have this feature of engine noise and "claustrophobic atmosphere" that the manufacturers need to pay some attention. The Mercedes body is very standard and many people have commented on the excellent build and ride quality. nonetheless we must accept the thoughts and comments of others, I wonder what Michael thinks of other Citaros , in London for example.

Ian Lang on a visit from Swindon last week noticed "Three Dennis Tridents on the 5 Railway Station to Blackbird Leys, 101 (card D), 102 (card G) and 103 (card I)

Service 22 Harcourt Hill to Risinghurst covered by Olympians, 224 (card A), 221 (B), 223 (C)."

This must be something of a record to get the two types on two routes like this. Other interesting working last week on Thursday were 629 and 642 on 15 road with 631, 101 and 103 on 5 road. Coach 17 operated the 1600 Gatwick due the late arrival of the inbound service with those road works south on the M25.

Volvo B10BLE 801 operated 18 road last Thursday. A similar bus, 820 now sports new side and rear destination equipment in addition to the revised front equipment. 821 is also being fitted with the same equipment by Hannover.

Trident 118 is away at Transbus for rectification work.

First, Berkshire

Stephen le Bras writes re the Mercedes Benz Citaros "The Citaros were launched today at Slough, with representatives from First BAA and the local council travelling through to Langley and back. The buses should be ready for service from next Monday."

James Cusworth, whom I met in Reading last Friday sent this picture of a newcomer to the Rail-Air service. It is from First Grampian and is N1GRT, fleet number 98.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford

David Whitley, Marketing Manager of the company has asked for the attached fleet list to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click on the Stagecoach logo to view. (you will need to rotate one of the pages to view)

getacro.gif (712 bytes)


Double deck on the Bicester service and here 16078 leaves Gloucester Green last Saturday.
This bus did not have any fleet numbers that I could see. (See Ian Lang's note below)


Seen last Saturday in Gloucester Green was this Dart on the 63 to Faringdon.
new to the Welsh side of the business. 32962 from Swindon depot.


20684 or that is what 404 now should be. Volvo/PS works a 66 last Saturday morning.

Ralph Adams writes "According to the weekly County update page, the very late night services on 7A with be renumbered N7 and N7A, apparently operating as 2 routes, from 30th March. I do not know what the reason is for this. The service 1 is also changing, but no mention is made of any change of route number."

Ralph goes on to say "I believe that Stagecoach 963 was did not make it as far as Oxford. Banbury has remained on Midland Red South discs and the vehicles have been part of that fleet and were not renumbered. However, 500 (ex 960) went on loan to Banbury for a short period.
All is now history of course with no problems now on inter company transfers for fleet numbers. A disappointment for us, but for operation by management it must be far easier."


Ian Lang of Swindon writes "After a visit to Oxford on Tuesday followed by a visit to Stroud/Gloucester today I think I have found an error by the Stagecoach Oxford Garage at Horspath.

They have renumbered the R-VPU ex London Volvo Olympians wrongly. According to the official lists they should be 160xx series not 161xx series. This was borne out by the fact that 16080 R180VPU was working off Stroud. Seen on the 77 service on Tuesday were 16176 R176VPU and 16179 R179VPU.

On the subject of the ex London Olympians there were none working on the Bicester services !!! This seems a complete waste of time if nine double deckers are going to be sat at the depot only covering the 77 service, which by my calculations requires only five vehicles at the maximum peak, but only
two for most of the day !!! There are obviously enough large capacity single deckers in Oxford to cover the Bicester diagrams.

Other notes from my visit :-
 
Stagecoach - Volvo B10 20694 (P319 EFL) on service 7A Kidlington to Barton (card K14)


On the subject of the transferred Olympians, Julian Rejnaik says "Sorry for not getting in touch. I do have important news. Volvo Olympians from East London and Selkent are being cascaded to Oxford, new windows fitted and converted to single doors. They are in the new livey and it consists of VA and VN types. For a photo go to this good site below http://www.capitalomnibus.co.uk"

Tappins


Edmund Tresham sent this fine shot of one of the Olympians
which have now returned north to Edinburgh.

Ian Lang says "A fine selection of OpenTop Atlanteans plying their trade on the Tom Tappin Oxford City Tour. BFS 39L, OSF 928M, OTO549M, UTV217S, STK129T in Guide Friday livery and BFS 14L in Oxford Classic Tour livery"

Thames Travel Wallingford.

'
The Thames Trains liveried Solos now seem to spend much time on the 103 in Oxford.


A Thames Travel Volvo B6, 877, at Reading on the 140 ex Chiltern Queens service last Friday.

Historical

Brian Matthews sent in two more COMS pictures which are an interesting reminder of the '80s.


Fleetline 998 at St Giles in 1983.


Fleetline 428 at Didcot Station in 1983
 

PHOTO CORNER
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at 
malcolmhc@aol.com

?


I welcome your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
malcolmhc@aol.com

This is a most interesting site which I do recommend

For the national renumbering of The Stagecoach Fleet, I have been speaking to Bill Potter of British Bus Publishing. This company has produced a handbook with the full listing and details.

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.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002