Tuesday 18th February 2003
week commencing 24th February 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.
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This last weekend, on Saturday, saw the NO WAR march in London and around 1 million people visiting the capital. Apart from the very large number of coaches seen on the M40 heading towards London, the two Oxford operators enjoyed record loadings. I saw many coaches leaving Gloucester Green fully loaded and for those with seats, they were most certainly full by the time they left Sandhills. This state of affairs reached its peak between 9am and 1130am. Oxford Express services were running direct from Hillingdon to VCS whilst The Tube was only running one journey per hour to Victoria with all services turning short at Notting Hill. This resulted in rather a large number of Tubes finding themselves back in Gloucester Green very early.
At the time I took this picture there were EIGHT Tubes in Gloucester Green. 1245hrs.
The unexpected number of extra vehicles caused a number of problems for the normal services and in my picture above the Olympian on an X38 service was looking for somewhere to load, its own bay being occupied. The picture below shows the rather unusual end result, something I have never seen until now.
Apart from anything else it shows the growing unsuitability of this particular bus station. With the advent of 15metre coaches from this April, I am sure there is going to be occasions when National Express or some other operators ends up with such a coach in Gloucester Green. I am certain that from certain buys it will be impossible to reverse off without other coaches being moved.
One of my regular
contributors, Matt Cooper wrote with some interesting thoughts. He says "As
per usual when I'm driving over the weekend I tend to become more
philosophical and thoughtful, sat there staring
through that sheet of glass! My first thought was that of what would
happen to the pushchairs placed in the "buggy bay" on the low floor buses in the
event of an accident? I
wonder if any manufacturer has used "crash test dummies" in simulated accidents like those done with seat belts and airbags. Presumabl the wheelchair user would be better off, they face backwards and have that "surf board" style cushion to lean against. Many parents with push chairs that board my bus don't even apply the brakes on the push chairs. Drivers often get called all the names under the sun when the have to request passengers fold down push chairs as there is insufficient room but if only the passengers considered why the request is being made. First Group (including us at First Northampton) have placed coving adverts advising that 2 pushchairs OR one wheel chair are allowed only. I believe the Oxford Bus Company say one wheel chair OR one pushchair.
The other thought I had was more personal. I am now in my second year at University College Northampton studying Ba Business and Human Resources as well as part time bus driving. I believe I'm the only "Student Bus Driver" in Northampton and just wondered if there are any other bus drivers out there studying. I know Michael Wootton of Wootten's Travel was before
establishing his business. I also held the title of Northampton's youngest bus driver for a short while in 1999 passing my PCV at the age of 19 !"
Some interesting thoughts from Matt. On the subject of young drivers I snapped the youngest PCV driver in Oxford helping out on Guide Friday last Saturday. The young lady in question was making her first days full driving as a PCV driver.
A very young lady on GF 39 at Gloucester Green.
£12.6m bus plan set to ease travel.
So runs the main headline in this last weekend's Oxford Times. A number of premium bus routes are planned for the county designed to get people out of the cars and a package will be announced next week.
Plans will be fulfilled over the next 8 years and new and improved bus lanes are part of the scheme. Part of the A34 approaching Oxford seems set to get the treatment. I will be bringing you further news of plans in future editions of this page.
Last week I asked a question attached to the photo below. Response was quick from several and I can report that 301 and 303 are presently held in Edinburgh as spares.
Edinburgh 314 on tour in that city. I wonder where 301-303 have gone to?
For the national renumbering of the Stagecoach fleet, 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.
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, February 18th 2003.
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News of the local companies - 18th February 2003
More coaches are appearing in white including D309 seen at Heathrow. Also it sppears that D304, 305, 207, 308 and 309 all now have wheel trims.
DAF D307 looking very smart with full wheel trims, seen at Heathrow's Terminal 4.
Arriva serving The Shires
Dave Stewart writes -
Route revisions are as follows:
Sunday 16th February:
2 (Bedgrove- Aylesbury- Haydon Hill, M-S) Improved peak hour service, with more through cross-town journeys. Introduced evenings & Sundays Aylesbury- Haydon Hill.
9 (Stoke Mandeville- Aylesbury, Daily). The evening and Sunday projection across the town to Haydon Hill is withdrawn (covered by 2). Quality Bus Partnership with Bucks CC, and all service worked with route branded Dart SLFs. Frequencies improved: M-F peaks from x20/30 to x12min, M-F offpeak from x15 to x10min, Sats daytime from x15 to x10min, Sats early/late from x20 to x15min, M-S evenings from x60 to x20min, Sundays from x120 to x60min.
X15,16,54,57,66,280,323,324,500 (Aylesbury area) Timetable revisions (mostly very minor).
260,261,262 (Aylesbury-Thame-Oxford). The 262 variation withdrawn, and 260 number kept for journeys through beyond Thame to Worminghall and Oxford. The 261 number is now the main hourly Mon-Sat route Aylesbury- Chearsley- Long Crendon- Thame, and projected to Chinnor to replace part of the frequency on 331/332.
331,332 (High Wycombe & Thame, M-S) The 332 variation via Princes Risborough withdrawn, leaving just a two-hourly 331 via Bledlow Ridge. (I dont know what, if anything, replaces the Risborough service, or if it has been reinstated by BucksCC).
353,362,372 Amersham allocation moved to High Wycombe Garage, and the Amersham outstation will be closed once again.
H18 - (LT service, Harrow & Harrow Weald) As a consequence of the increased allocation at Wycombe because of the Amersham closure, the H18 buses will move back to Garston.
Dave goes on to say -
Ref. the picture of Arriva 5114. I can confirm that the company has now
transferred it to Wycombe. It originally went from Garston to Luton but only
stayed there about a couple of weeks. In your picture showing "Manchester",
you will observe that the word is at the bottom of the screen rather than
filling it. I think you will find that it is just the top part of "Manchester
Street", the location of the main Town Centre stops in Luton ! I don't know if
it now has a Wycombe blind, I was in Wycombe on Tuesday (briefly) but did not
see the bus.
Ed Maun also writes on the route changes saying "Further to my previous e-mail, further info is now available regarding service changes from 16/17 Feb.
As well as the service 332 withdrawal, the Risborough Town service 77 is also withdrawn. The 332 between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough is replaced by additional journeys on service 321 operated by both Carousel Buses and Z & S. This brings Z & S into High Wycombe bus station on scheduled services for the first time. The 77 is replaced by effectively extending the Z & S 321 journeys around the Princes Risborough estates as per the 77, but also going via Longwick and still calling at Princes Risborough Rail Station. The link between Bledlow Ridge and Princes Risborough is not replaced. The former service 332 link between Princes Risbough, Chinnor and Thame is maintained by only one early morning journey on service 232 from Princes Risborough and two evening journeys from Thame (one on service 232, the other as an extension of service 261). The 331 service between Thame and High Wycombe via Chinnor and Bledlow Ridge has timing changes and journeys that do not go via Kingston Blount are service 231. Services 231 and 232 differ according to their routing in Chinnor. The service 261 journeys extended from Thame to Chinnor also do not go via Kingston Blount.
I was in Aylesbury around lunch time today (Wednesday 12/2) and observed the following:
ARRIVA the SHIRES
BCC Optare Solo 0449 was operating journeys on service 4 and ex Wycombe Bus 3825 (Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton) was parked up in Aylesbury bus station showing 303 Totteridge.
Steve Warwick writes
Tues 11th Feb
Optare 0449 worked the 12.25 dep 57 to Halton Camp.
Wed 12th Feb
Optare 0449 on Route 4 all day.
Wycombe SLF Dart 3825 was at Aylesbury for the day as was used for the filming of today's news report on transport which was on BBC South Today tonight.
I have from a reliable source information that that a batch of SLF Darts currently used on the 34 Route (34 route is going over to Low Floor Double Deck operation) (Barnet-Walthamstow) by Arriva London North are likely to be transferred to Stevenage. Stevenage is going to be completely Low Floor operated, thus releasing a batch of Volvo B6's probably destined for HW to replaced five of the DW's. Also rumour has it that one of the above SLF Darts is for Aylesbury also expecting a DD from Arriva North London, We'll wait and see!
The three Volvo B6BLE's 3258,3259 and 3260 are to be transfered to Garston from HW on Saturday night. On the down side Greenways 3053 & 3057 look as if they are going to be painted into Arriva livery, that means they are to keep them! as with Olympians 5083, 5088 & 5097.
Thought you might like the numbers of the 25 DAF/Alexander ALX400 at Garston.
601 KL52 CWO
602 KL52 CWP
603 KL52 CWR
604 KL52 CWT
605 KL52 CWU
606 KL52 CWV
607 KL52 CWW
608 KL52 CWZ
609 KL52 CXA
610 KL52 CXB
611 KL52 CXC
612 KL52 CXD
613 KL52 CXE
614 KL52 CXF
615 KL52 CXG
616 KL52 CXH
617 KL52 CXJ
618 KL52 CXK
619 KL52 CXM
620 KL52 CXN
621 KL52 CXO
622 KL52 CXP
623 KL52 CXR
624 KL52 CXS
Thurs 13th Feb
Wycombe SLF Dart 3825 on loan to Aylesbury, worked the 331's Thame-Wycombe today and was returned to Wycombe by myself at 15.00. Dennis Dart SDL 3101 (L460 NMU) has arrived at Aylesbury on loan from Garston.
Dennis Dart SLF 3823 (N523 MJO) is being transferred from HW to Aylesbury tomorrow.
Sat 15th Feb
MPD's 3486.3487, 3492 & 3497 are all now in RedRoute 9 Route branding ready for
Optare 0448 was on route 5 all day today.
Hemel Hempstead had Volvo Olympian 5152 on 500 Watford-Aylesbury.
Finally Steve says, following my seeing Scania
3204 on the 280 on Sunday evening last, "Quite
unusual to have single deck buses on 280's at all, noticed 3204 with
280 on front this morning.. Easybus also unusual
on local services.
Speaking to engineers this morning looks as if Dart SDL 3101 (L460NMJ) is going to Newlands permanently in return for a SLF Dart, number now undecided. It was going to be 3823 but apparently it's had a lot of work done on it and they don't want to let it go"
Finally Graeme Wilson writes "Today
(Saturday 15th) I was in High Wycombe and made several unusual
observations. One of the B6s and a minibus were
on route 310 today, a route normally covered by Darts, Olympian 5108 was on
route 326 for a while (although it later operated route 362) and later 5134 was
on the 326. Bouncy Castle Ddart H367 XGC (I think) was on route 303, while 5832
operated the 300 at least once.
Meanwhile, up at Aylesbury Olympian 5103 was on route 324, and later Dart MPD 3492 was on the 323.
As you can see, today many vehicles were found in unexpected places".
Carousel, High Wycombe.
As you can read above in the route changes Carousel will now find their way to Princes Risboro'.
City of Oxford Motor Services - The Oxford Bus Company.
Volvo 25 leaves Gloucester Green last Saturday morning on an X90 service to London.
This was caused by the very late running of X90 services returning fro London.
Trident 102 on the 5 last Saturday. The three red Tridents are now considered part of
the low floor bus fleet and as such can appear on any "Low Floor" route.
Looking very smart for one of the oldest buses in the Oxford fleet, 647 heads towards Queen St last Saturday.
Citaro 825 makes its first Private Hire last Sunday taking The Bowls Club to Rugby.
This is the only Citaro with a tacho and was delivered as 822!!. It is seen here picking up at Dean Court.
Neil Gow writes "Seeing in last week's report that the remainder of the Marshall bodied Darts are up for sale, I was wondering what they plan to use on service 18 when they go. Well, it seems just about anything in the depot that's less than 36ft long is the answer from recent observations: Friday - one of the 4xx series Dart SLFs, and today, Monday - Dennis Trident 101.
Good to see 815 is due back with new destination equipment. It ran for several weeks on 5 road with neither number nor destination displayed on the front. It seems the old power blinds are breaking down faster than they can be replaced though as both 801 and 807 were out in a similar state on Saturday".
Brian Matthews writes "EBW106Y, ex-COMS Tiger coach, seen on the Abingdon - Kingston Bagpuize road yesterday, in all over economy white livery. Did not get close enough to establish who the operator is. Perhaps somebody can help identify."
I now realise that, in order to maximise the use of their coach fleet now that it runs every 20 minutes, the Railair service from Reading now only serves Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Passengers for Terminal 4 must change at Terminal 3 on to a shuttle service to 4. This service is operated by a variety of buses including the blue Legoland Dart SLF.
One of the First Paladins works the X26 shuttle, seen here approaching T4.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire & Stagecoach in Oxford
20694 works a 29 service last Saturday.
20822 works a 28 service last Saturday.
Stagecoach Swindon 407 works into Oxford on a 66 service. Swindon seem slow to renumber.
Various readers write with comments.
Ralph Adams writes "Apparently some of the conversions of the dual door London buses were to be made by Kent Coachworks at Northfleet. Some had gone there from SELKENT when Kent coachworks had financial difficulties. Stagecoach London has recovered the buses for conversion elsewhere. The M reg buses were converted by Kent Coachworks, the first 3 of the R were done in Sheffield (not by Mainline who do the conversion work at Rotherham).
Brian Matthews writes "Stagecoach re-renumbering ! - I can confirm that Dennis 32625 is the offender. Seen this morning (Tuesday) in Witney the front panel shows 3262 - it's lost its last digit. The remaining side and rear fleet numbers are shown correctly.
Banbury have taken on 499 Banbury - Aynho - Brackley requiring 1 MB on a 2
Thames Travel Wallingford.
The company has supplied me with the latest fleet list.
"847" heads up Cowley Rd on its way to Watlington on service 101.
Reg. No. Type Body and Seats
B51F Ex Ipswich 104
M501VJO Dennis Dart Marshall B36D City of Oxford 501
WWL208X Leyland Olympian E. C. W. H75D 208
R846 JGD Mercedes O814D Plaxton Beaver B31F
R847 JGD B27F
R848 JGD B31F
W682MVV Mercedes Sprinter Mercedes B8D
BD02HDV Evo-Bus B8D
X 49VVY Optare Solo Optare B27F
X249VWR Ex Whittle, Kidderminster
V270BNV Dennis Dart Plaxton MPD B29F Ex Armchair, Brentford
KP51UFK Pointer B36F 551
KP51SXU MPD B29F Ex Chiltern Queens, Woodcote.
W992BDP Volvo B6BLE East Lancs B31F Ex Chiltern Queens, Woodcote.
Ralph Adams writes "M501VJO
is now back in service after its front end damage some months ago. Whilst the
bodywork was Marshall (no longer in business of course), the new front is in the
same style of the London DML Marshall / Darts with the Marshall badge on the
front. The rear is unchanged to the old style. This must have been one of the
last items of work made by Marshall unless it is by the new company that has set
up in business nearby having taken a license on the old equipment. With thanks
to John Woodley who came in to my office to tell me of the badge as I failed to
see it properly at lunch time today.
Thames Travel have several new short Dart SLF. I have seen KU52RXF, KU52RXR and KU52RXS, last with number 452. Presumably there is at least one more. I don't know what has goe but the oldest Vario (R846JGD) is still in service, but I have not seen the former Chiltern Queens Volvo B6BLE s recently. Has it been noted that COMS 208 is now all white with Thames Travel avoiding confusion with potential passengers. It was out on all day service on Saturday Thames Travel are updating their website today, http://www.busbook.co.uk (Sunday) including new 107 Didcot to JR Hospital. Is the Bainton Road section is being withdrawn as no mention is made at present?
Michael Wootten writes re his fleet. He says "Leyland Olympian ONLXB/1R \ ECW BBW214Y B47/28D is to be acquired from Oxford Bus. Following extensive bodywork, Leyland Olympian Coach ONTL11/2RSp \ ECW B782FOG (B111WAT, B107LPH) has left for re-spray. The coach should be in service by next weekend.
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This delightful old Dennis was outside the Wobbly Wheel, near Deddington last Sunday.
Stephen le Bras writes to advise that this Titan was working a Christmas Day service in Windsor.
This is the first time Windsor has had Christmas service for many years.
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inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
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