Tuesday 12th August 2003
next update week ending 23rd August 2003
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Well back in the home territory after my week in Scotland I can honestly say a great deal has happened. From my heading above I am sure that by now most of you will be aware that a new service from Oxford to London launched yesterday morning at 0600 when a Stagecoach Leyland Olympian Megadekker set off for London Baker Street with a few hardy souls on board each having paid £1 to travel to London on a single journey. The round trip costs £2.50 when booked on the Internet which is indeed the only way to book.
David Whitley of Stagecoach sent me the following Press Release which I quote for the record.
A NEW CONCEPT IN BUS TRAVEL COMES TO OXFORD
A new concept in bus travel will be unveiled on Monday 4th August 2003 with the launch of ‘megabus.com’, the world’s first ‘low cost’ interurban bus route.
Special 94-seat ‘megadeckers’ – painted in the megabus.com colours of blue and yellow – will run between Oxford and London six times a day. Seats will only be bookable on the megabus.com website, but prices will start at just £1 each way (plus 50p booking fee).
Said David Whitley, Marketing Manager for megabus.com, “This is a trial of a new and innovative product which taps into the expanding market for low cost travel.
“It is very different from anything else being offered at the moment and we believe it will complement rather than undermine the existing coach services to London.
“Seats will only be bookable via the megabus.com website, but with singles trips starting at just £1 plus a 50p booking fee, it is sure to be a popular alternative.”
Although the website is launched on 4th August, the buses themselves will start running on 11th August, allowing enough time for customers to book on the first departures.
Buses will pick up pre-booked customers at Oxpens coach park, St Giles, Banbury Road (Lathbury Road), Marston (Cherwell Drive), Headington (Sandfield Road) and Sandhills before running direct to Hillingdon and Baker Street in London.
Whilst the double deckers returned from Hong Kong were not readyu for the launch yesterday, two older Megadekkers new to Stagecoach Cumberland but more recently in Manchester and Glasgow, were drafted in for the launch. They are 14239 WLT727 F201FHH and 14240 WLT794 F202FHH. 14239 operated the first journey as can be seen below when it passed Stokenchurch and my camera at 0644.
Here 14239 climbs through the cutting close to Stokenchurch at 0644 on Monday 11th August 2003
Heading towards the sunrise and London, 14239 climbs onwards out of the M40 cutting, eastbound.
One of my regular correspondents was on board and sent me this report -
As a result of
EasyBus announcing they are to offer services at from £1 to London from various
cities. Stagecoach is starting a new service 6 times a day from Oxpens Coach
Park, St Giles, Marston Ferry Road to Baker Street starting on Monday 11th
August. Apart from Sandhills and Hillingdon, they do not service any of the
existing stops. First tickets are on sale at £1, but presumably increase in
value in a similar way to the low cost airlines. All tickets must be purchased
via the internet, and the coach drivers will not accept cash. The planned
vehicles are 94 seat ex Hong Kong 3 axle Olympians painted blue and yellow (the
same colours as in Hong Kong)!
Flyers were put on every bus stop in the City on Sunday 3rd August, but by daylight on the Monday morning all had been removed by unknown person or persons, except the stop outside St Aldates Police Station. It is strange they should all disappear as A4 flyers are a regular method of publicity of new services
of the Olympians apparently meant for Oxford has now arrived. (Monday 12th) It
is at present unregistered but is Alexander bodied CH53/41F Olympian. Fleet
number inside of 138 may indicate ex Hong Kong ER8635, built in 1990. It also
has 136004 (6 digits on the front windscreen). In Magic Bus blue with vinyls
advertising the service.
It will be most interesting to see what fleet numbers are used as most certainly the bus was Citybus 138 delivered in 1990. It was ER8635 and part of a batch of 40 Leyland Olympian ON3R49C18Z4's with Alexander RH BC53/41F bodywork. One hopes no one tries going under the station bridge at Oxford or they will OBC**/41F bodies thereafter.
One correspondent wrote saying "The service is designed to tap into a new market of travellers, and pre-empt an attack from Easybus. Just like with Easyjet, if every seat on the bus is filled then the service will make a profit. It remains to be seen however if this kind of operation will catch on in the bus industry like it has in the airline industry"
Out of interest I find that easybus has a web site quoted below.
In future I will include comments on this service and the buses used under the Stagecoach section.
GO-AHEAD BUYS ANOTHER COMPANY
The next major item of interest hit the headlines yesterday when the Go-Ahead Group announced the purchase of another major company. The press release is quoted below.
Go-Ahead announces that it has
today acquired Wilts & Dorset Investments Limited ('the W&D Group'), whose
principal trading subsidiary is Wilts and Dorset Bus Company Limited ('Wi lts
and Dorset'), for a total consideration of £31.6 million, payable in cash and
funded from Go-Ahead's existing debt facilities.
The business has been acquired with net cash balances on completion of £2.3 million.
Wilts and Dorset operates a fleet of 365 buses in Dorset, Wiltshire and South West Hampshire servicing the local conurbations of Bournemouth, Poole and Salisbury and operating longer distance routes throughout surrounding areas.
Based in Poole, the business has a good track record with revenue having grown steadily over several years. In the year ended 27 April 2002, the W&D Group g enerated operating profit of £4.4 million and profit before tax of £4.0 million on turnover of £25.8 million. Net assets as at 27 April 2002 were £18.7 million.
The acquisition will further enhance Go-Ahead's Southern focus where the prospects for continued volume growth in public transport are particularly encouraging. A gainst this background, Wilts and Dorset, which has a similar profile to the Group's existing bus operations in Brighton, represents an attractive opportunity. Following acquisition, Wilts and Dorset will be managed as a separate entity within the Group's Deregulated - South bus business which currently operates in Oxford, Brighton and Crawley. The acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing in the current financial year and thereafter.
Martin Ballinger, Group Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, said: 'We are delighted to have acquired Wilts and Dorset which is a profitable and high quality bus business with good growth potential. We look forward to working with the local authorities to enhance the business further for the benefit of passengers, staff and shareholders.'
Ride subsidised by Oxford City Council
The next major item reported in The Oxford Times was an announcement by the City Council that a £10,000 a month subsidy is to be paid to Oxford Bus Company to help its Water Eaton Park & Ride service which is presently attracting to few passengers. Seemingly there was talk of reducing the service to every 20 minutes from its original 10 minute frequency and the subsidy will enable it to run on a 15 minute frequency from 7am to 7pm requring three buses instead of four to maintain the service.
Also from September a £3000 per month subsidy for the 300 and 400 route services will enable the original all stops service to be resumed between 7pm and 1130pm.
Competition to Abingdon
Competition on the Abingdon services is hotting
up with the introduction by Stagecoach of the X4 and N4 - running into the early
hours - which will compete directly with the recently introduced X3/X13 services
by Oxford Bus.
Stokenchurch loses another service
Looking through the latest issue of the Wycombe Travel Guide it appears that the BCC 160 service from Stokenchurch to Marlow, operated on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays will cease operation on the 30th August 2003. Another service loss to Stokenchurch!!!
My trip to Scotland
My trip to Scotland proved most interesting and the Leyland Tiger/Van Hool of Charlton Service performed superbly for a 1986 vintage model.
The trip to Blairgowerie was made in just over 12 hours with 2 minutes less than 10 hours at the wheel. We sailed along in fine style and achieved something under 15 mpg at a cruising speed of 100kmh. Whilst in Scotland several day trip were made bringing our total kms run to a little over 2200kms in the 9 days.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
FIL6689 seen at Charlton's garage in the early hours of Saturday 2nd ready for departure to Scotland.
I noticed, when looking back at my old Ribble log book for 1965 that on August 2nd of that year I had operated the 0917 X30 Glasgow day service from Manchester with a Leyland Leopard/Plaxton Panorama 789 ARN789C returning the following day on the southbound service. Our arrival time in Glasgow in those days was just after 7pm for a journey of just over 200 miles. Our mileage on the 2nd August this year was 449 miles in 12 hours, what a contrast. Of course the Motorways were not as good and the X30 served Preston, Lancaster, Morecambe, Kendal, Penrith and Carlisle to name but some of the stops.
As mentioned we had some lovely trips including one to Glenshee, Balmoral and Ballater. FIL is seen at Glenshee in the picture below.
On another day we went to St Andrews and Dundee. At Dundee I was allowed to park in the Travel Dundee depot and FIL is een below next to a Citylink coach which started life with West Midlands on the Wolverhampton-London services. I saw this coach 6689DP later in the week at Perth. It is a very early Expressliner.
One nice day included Crieff and a side trip to Auchterarder where I visited Midland Docherty who had an ex North Western 1936 Leyland Tiger with post war Windover body which is used for weddings and such like. I used to travel on this coach to my home from school near Manchester and a trip on it brought back many happy memories.
Mr Docherty, seen thrid from the front on the left was most hospitable
and asked one of his drivers to take me for a run on this immaculate Tiger, JA5515.
Nearby was this wonderful and very perfect station of Gleneagles, FIL is seen in the station yard.
Blairgowerie where we stayed had its very own Bus Stance served by Strathtay.
The trip was for the Oxford Bus Company Bowls Club and FIL is seen here waiting players at Crieff.
Found in Stagecoach Ballater garage was this ex Northern AEC Reliance GWG472.
Here a Strathtay rebodied Tiger is seen crossing the river at Perth.
Having crossed the bridge 427, DBZ918 turns onto the riverside road. I thought these to be fine machines.
The A40 sees the A40 with Carousel
Finally Carousel have got their A40 off the ground from 28th July on the High Wycombe-Heathrow service which will see brand new Citaros before the end of the year. The service is initially being operated by ex Armchair branded Olympians as seen below.
I have been asked to mention the Amersham Running Day which this year will be on Sunday 5th October 2003. It is always a good day with a lot of variety and an event not be missed.
Malcolm Crowe, August 12th 2003.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
News of the local companies – 12th August 2003
the Arriva Bus Running Day
Sunday 21st September 2003
- there will be visiting Routemasters as in previous years
and the event is organised by Richard Bond.
venue - Newlands Bus Station
Various correspondents have kindly kept me up to date on Arriva happening.
Steve Warwick advises that:-
Thurs 31st July
Leyland Olympian 5833 (G232VWL) has arrived at Aylesbury from Newlands, presently in the workshops.
MPD 3487 suffered damage in the bus station when MPD 3482 reversed into the front of it.
Ex COMS Olympian 5832 operated the 20.45, 280 to Oxford.
Leyland Olympian 5088 is to be withdrawn after service on Saturday.
Tues 5th Aug
Leyland Olympian 5088 (F638LMJ) was collected today by it's new owners.
Olympian 5829 (E229CFC) has arrived from H/W with 5833 going back to Wycombe as it was deemed unserviceable.
Sat 9th Aug
Olympian 5100 broke down on the 500 Watford-Aylesbury service and was replaced by Hemel's Olympian 5126 for the rest of the day. It was returned to Hemel last night.
Leyland Olympian 5122 (G292UMJ) has arrived at Wycombe.
Rob Williams caught a Red Route branded Dart in Reading saying:-
Red Route branded Dart on 328 to Reading. Photo attached.
The use of these branded Darts on the 328/329 routes seems quite regular now.
Nigel Peach back from holidays reports:- Today, Wed 6th
Aug I saw Olympian 5122 just arrived at Wycombe. This is the 6th and last of
those listed back in June by Steve Warwick as coming to Wycombe. The other 5 are
all in service. We presumably now await the 5 from London.
Ex Oxford Olympian 5833 was at the back of the bus station with its destination blind removed.
Volvo B6 3126 which I think has been in special livery for route 74 since new, has now received standard livery, but is specially branded for route 74. I'm still confused by this route. I know Arriva's input has increased on this, but I thought that First were pulling out of it, or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick? This afternoon I saw an Arriva on London Road, and not long later one of First's Citaros!
Correspondent Ben Wilson wrote "i have heard that 3 new Dennis Dart SLFs have been ordered for route u9 for January 2004 by Arriva the Shires."
Neil Gow wrote "At Aylesbury ex Watford/Hemel Olympian 5126 was spare bus and put in turns on the 500 and later on the 9. No destination blinds, hardly a "quality bus" for red route 9. The 61 timetable has been completely rehacked from 27th July - departures now from AY at xx45 and from Luton xx25 (with afternoon variations). The 50 minute layover is now at Aylesbury rather than Luton. It looks like at least two of the three workings may now be back with Aylesbury.
Still going strong, Arriva's 5071 round the island on a Monday 323 working on the 11th August.
Rob Williams has been very active with his camera and note taking. He writes :-
A Citaro operated the X3 0810 journey and on Tuesday 29th 822 was the bus in use.
Last Thursday Citaro 824 was operating on the 400 and more unusually Wright 817 was on the 300.
Friday Trident 103 was on the 5 during the evening peak.
A few times over the last couple of weeks I have seen a Park and Ride Citaro parked up inside the BMW garage on Horspath Road, just opposite the Stagecoach depot. Today it was showing 'BMW Site Tour', indicating that this must be a regular hire of some sort. I find the allocation of a Citaro for this to be quite interesting.
I've also attached a photo of 819 operating an early morning 5 just so that I am including a photo from both companies. Taken at 7.15am on Wed 30th you can see that Queen Street isn't yet particularly busy!
Rob Williams sent this shot of 819 in the early hours in an almost deserted Queen Street.
I forgot to report last week that full OBC liveried Marshall 510 operated the 14 on Wed 23rd. (Photo available). (and today 14 liveried Dart 506 was on 22 road today 12th Ed.)
Noted 606 on the X3 today (Mon 4th), freshly repainted into a new Oxford Bus Company livery! The livery is two tone red in a similar application style to the park and ride vehicles, but both slightly different shades to the existing red. Oxford is written in much larger white letters, and the letters 'Ox' are used in black just to the side. It is difficult to explain so I will attempt to get a photo ASAP, although I'm sure that you will do your usual good job and have something yourself by the next edition. Overall it looks very smart, although it seemed to lack something without the blue skirt!
104 and 809 on 300.
641 was on the 5 in the morning, whilst I also noted 634 on the route in the afternoon.
From a distance I noted a Reading-Heathrow RailAir branded tri-axle coach at Oxford Station at around 7am in the morning. Later in the day I noted other Barbie liveried coaches on rail replacements in the Worcester direction.
636 on 15
825 on 400
101 on X3. 102 and 104 on 400.
I have also noticed that on some rail journeys operated by Thames Trains (particularly one I've used from London Paddington and Reading to Worcester Foregate Street), the internal message displays flash up the message "Change at Oxford" / "for X3 bus to" / "Abingdon" along with one or two other bus routes operating from other stations served by the train. When I've seen messages like these before I had assumed that they were all services that Thames Trains were involved with (like Thames Travel's route 132). Very integrated! Photo above.
A surpirse to many was the appearance of a new livery for Oxford Bus when 606 entered service on the X3 a week ago.
Dart 508 loads at the Rail Station a week or so ago. Photo by Neil Gow.
611 pictured above last Sunday at Cowley Road with revised branding for the X3/X13 routes..
Neil Gow wrote asking what is happening with the new garage and I can advise that tenders are out to builders for the main depot construction.
David Whitley, Marketing Manager of the company has asked for the latest attached fleet list (period 4 - July 2003) 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)
Rob Williams and other correspondents wrote re sightings as follows:-
42371 on the 10 service on Monday 28th July followed by 22924 on the 32 on Tuesday 29th July with 22926 on the 27A and the 29 on the 30th July. Both 22924 and 22926 are 7A branded buses.
Monday 28th saw Olympian 16079 arriving in the depot with the Oxford Tube logo and 'Additional Service' on the blinds, and a tube driver at the wheel. I therefore assume it did a run on the tube that day.
Tuesday saw Olympian 16072 operating the 7A. Photo attached.
Rob Williams sent this picture of 16079 unusually working the 7A
Wednesday Hospital Park & Ride Merc 40110 did a stint on the Stagecoach staff shuttle in between its hospital duties.
To correct/clarify the Stagecoach reports on the last news page - there are a lot of exciting developments starting in the next few weeks:
The Brooks Uni contract will in fact require 6 new double deckers. They will be Trident/Presidents, and will be limited to 10mph under 'the bridge' to avoid any bumps because of their very limited clearance. There will also be three new MAN/Alexander single deckers, with all vehicles wearing a new dedicated livery. Drivers will have a separate roster and uniform.
South Oxfordshire route changes:
Branded B10Ms will initially be used, although a batch of brand new buses are on order to replace them later in the year.
The new X4 route will run every 10 minutes from Oxford City Centre to Abingdon.
Route 32 between Abingdon, Didcot, Harwell and Wantage will continue on tender. There will also be a direct service in each direction between Oxford, Abingdon and Harwell AERE for the workers there.
Wantage services are being improved with a half hourly pattern of departures, one bus an hour via Abingdon and one via the A34 bypass.
From Keith Wood some further away sightings "52643 is the first Midland Red Nat Ex coach I've seen that has been repainted into the new style standard (not airport) Nat Ex Livery. 52444 is another Nat Ex repaint into the new standard with Nat Ex re-Branding is going at a good pace now. 52642 is the latest in the "Standard" new livery seen today."
The route 10 branded Darts carry a very informative map on the rear panel.
Rob Williams sent this excellent picture of one the new Lynx trainers with SCiO, 28108..
Stagecoach have a wonderful garage in Ballater, though sadly the buses have lost their
Bluebird branding and the Royal Crest seen over the door in this picture.
Finally Newman Morgan wrote :- "Just
a quick line to advise that SiO Olympian 14538, I think it is 14538, N338HGK one
of the shorter Olympians has been working the Banbury to Cropredy shuttle for
the Fairport Convention gig. I saw the bus on both Thursday and Saturday in
Banbury. The service ran hourly between Banbury Bus Station, Banbury Rail
Station and the Cropredy site. Departure times from the rail station were
advertised as 15 mins. past the hour.
Other than that, nothing else to report I am afraid, except that an unidentified Leyland Titan in Stagecoach East Kent, old style Stagecoach livery, has been seen on two mornings this week working empty along the Thame to Bicester road."
I will be including developments under this banner for megabus.com from the next issue.
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
"First Coaches" branded coaches operating rail replacement services for the Cotswold line.
The rail replacements appear to be operated by First Southern National. Only some vehicles bear the fleet name "First Coaches", but all are in the Barbie coach livery. Amongst the vehicles at 7am this morning were Reading RailAir branded T701/3 JLD. Interestingly, First Southern National fleet names and numbers have been applied to these, so they appear to have left BeeLine although to my knowledge they have not been replaced! Photo of vehicles parked at the end of Roger Dudman Way included. Most were Plaxton Premieres and Excaliburs, but an older Paramount was also in use with contact details for South Wales.
Picture by Rob Williams
Red Rose's usual contribution to the 275 this time seen in Oxford. Rob Williams who sent the picture says
"I forgot to include a photo earlier in the week. It is of Red Rose's new Optare Solo RR03 BUS on the 275 on Tues 5th.
This elderly Dart K380RTY was parked near the bus station in High Wycombe
last Monday with no sign of any ownership
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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
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