Sunday 22nd May 2005
next update week ending 3rd June 2005
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Thank you, your contributions both information and photographs continue to arrive on my desk each week and certainly help to make this a very widely read page each week. In April I recorded 26,597 unique hits with Monday and Tuesday of each week being the peak days.
Last week I posed the question on how you all felt about the length of the page? Replies were mixed and dare I say evenly balanced. Comments included those of you who felt that the page sometimes stepped outside the boundary of the area covered and those who welcomed a good read each week. From a personal point of view I try to strike a balance between news, photographs and events worth recording in our area. I then hope to refer to vehicles which have moved from our area to other areas and what is happening to them now. Additionally I include any items which have interested me personally and which I feel may interest my readers.
Cutting down the length of the page and sticking just to items of local interest would certainly cut down on the time taken to produce the page but if I read between the lines it does seem that many of you enjoy my diversifications each week.
I can however conclude that with over 1000 hits every Monday and Tuesday I am doing something right and intend to continue in the same vein unless I find that readership is falling. Finally I suppose I can also say that one does not have to read all of the page and only select what interests the reader.
Arriva's new depot in High Wycombe - progress on 16th May
The two pictures above show the progress on the construction of the new depot for Arriva at Lincoln Road, High Wycombe.
Picture nr 1 shows the back of the depot with what I presume will be the fuelling and wash bay.
Picture nr 2 shows the front elevation and I understand that the workshop pits are already installed.
Work on the new depot for Arriva at Lincoln road, High Wycombe is proceeding well and I am lead to understand that the move from Newlands Bus Station should take place in about two to three months. I am sure that everyone involved will be pleased have a modern purpose built workshop with the latest facilities. The operation based on Newlands Bus Station must be far from easy as my third picture shows where maintenance must often take place under the gaze of the public's eye.
I will continue to report on progress over the coming months.
The new shopping centre development in High Wycombe.
Work on the new development which will replace the Newlands Centre is well under way and some diversions to traffic are already in place. Buses leaving the Newlands Bus Station and wishing to serve Desborough Road must now divert as the entrance to that road is now closed whilst work is under way. My fourth picture shows at 33 service turning right into Temple Street as a result.
The new shopping area referred to as The Phoenix Project and its impact on transportation is covered on a useful web link Phoenix Project where more details of the proposed bus interchange facilities can be studied.
George Street roadworks continue.
Roadworks continue in George Street which is still closed westbound to through traffic. This last week has seen work in progress on widening the exit from Gloucester Green coach station and the provision of a taxi lay-by in Chain Alley.
The two pictures above show the work in progress. The bus stop in George Street (Eastbound) is out of use at this time.
Gloucester Green under construction - a blast from the past.
Looking through my photo library I thought readers might be interested in some pictures from the early '90s when Gloucester Green was being constructed and the large office block which stands between it and Worcester Street was still on the drawing board or under construction.
If any other readers have pictures from this period I would appreciate seeing them for possible inclusion on a future issue.
Worcester Street hosts an all-over advert Bristol VR whilst the temporary coach facility sees a Leopard coach of COMS on layover,
a Metroliner on the 190 to London and hidden behind a Bristol VR of south midland in Orbiter livery.
I am not sure of the date which was probably 1989 or 1990?
The large office block is now nearing completion as Metroliner 904 arrives from London on a 190 working.
The coaches in the background add interest to this evocative shot. The date must have been 1993.
The coach station complete with a selection of vehicles from the '90s.
In the picture from right to left are an ex Devon Leyland Tiger (996 F279HOD - ex Burton's of Brixham) on a Bicester service,
two Oxford Tubes (6 - L213GJO and 31 - F337CHE ex McLeans of Witney) on the London service with two Oxford Citylink DAFs the nearer of which is 133
and the further 135 flanking a "foreigner" which was probably on a National Express working.
Mostly hidden by the further DAF is a Mercedes mini coach F846TLU in X40 livery working the Birmingham service.
The DAFs had Plaxton Paramount 3500 bodywork and were purchased for use on the airport routes.
More pictures from the early '90s in Oxford and our area.
I found a number of other interesting pictures in my library which will I hope bring back memories and give a mouth-watering taste of the past to my younger readers.
Older readers will remember the influx of ex LT Leyland titans in the early '90s for service with COMS in and around Oxford.
Here we can see two Titans in Cornmarket, now pedestrianised, still in their London livery. 963 is followed by 967, both buses
having been fitted with NBC style destination equipment but awaiting the attention of the paintshop.
A Thames Transit Mercedes shows 100 on the blind but also Not in service.
The buses and other traffic are now gone from Cornmarket but the memory lingers on!
The Oxford Tube started on 7th March 1987 using coaches transferred from Devon, the first being this Leyland Tiger
with Plaxton Paramount bodywork and given the fleet number 1. It gave many years excellent service to "The Tube"
and in its later years gained 390 livery for the service via Wallingford and Henley to London.
As this service was operated by Thames Transit latterly it lost its Oxford Tube logos.
The date was Boxing Day 1993 (261293)
By 1994 Thames Transit had started operations in competition with COMS on the Redbridge Park & Ride service and
introduced these Iveco/Mellor B26D dual door mini buses for their operation. The had a special livery and the titles
"Gloria Glide - Park & Ride" and a rear view (not often seen of these buses) is shown here of 2086 (L946EOD)
Picture taken 010697.
Eventually Thames Transit withdrew from this service and the dedicated buses saw service on other routes before being transferred to Exeter, Devon.
Here 2087 (L947EOD) and 2085 (L945EOD) have gained a more normal Thames Transit livery when this picture was taken on 1st June 1997
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Oxford Tube this Volvo B10M-62 with Berkhof Excellence 1000 bodywork,
delivered in 1996 was given this very smart red and gold livery in 1997.
The Tube had started on 7th March 1987 when the first service left Oxford at 0635 and the last one of the day
left at 1045. Running time was 1hr 20 min at peak times and 1hr 15 min during the day and evening.
The day return was £2.97 , the single £2.90 and a period return £4.95.
One looks forward to the 20th anniversary in March 2007, now less than 2 years away.
June 2nd 1991 saw this ex Harwell Olympian emerge from the Cowley Road paintshop freshly prepared for service
in Oxford. The batch of four 236-239 (FWL778-781Y) arrived with Oxford in 1991 and were at first used
on services in Oxford. Then in October 1995 they were transferred to High Wycombe with the Wycombe Bus Co.
They were at first numbered 1778-1781 at WBC but soon reverted to their original numbers, 236-239.
In 2000 they were sold and this one plus 239 went to Weavaway in Newbury and 237 and 238 went to
Hedingham & District Omnibuses to be joined in 2001 by the two Weavaway ones.
They may be still in service with Hedingham with 236 based at Tollesbury with 237 and 238.
239 is based at Clacton. I intend visiting Hedingham this summer.
Another bus now with Hedingham which originated with Mayne of Manchester was this Bristol VR
acquired by OBC/WBC in 1991 and numbered 1509 whilst with WBC. The picture above was taken on 9th November 1993
It was sold to Hedingham in October 1996 where it was based at Tollesbury.
Historical reference in our area
House of Watlington
Ed Maun takes up the pen on matters pertaining to house and other local matters. Ed writes "I’ve just been reading issue 128. Those pictures of House’s vehicles certainly bring back memories. As a young boy in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s I used to go on family seaside trips to places like Bognor, Littlehampton, Bournemouth etc by coach from Stokenchurch. The coach was often provided by House’s and my favourites were the Bedford OBs, as the front pair of seats were ahead of the front entrance door and hence you could sit alongside the driver. House’s also had a Commer Avenger at this time which was often driven by a driver who lived in Stokenchurch (Can’t remember his name now – might have been Malcolm Bird – he also drove for COMS for a time as well). The pictures taken in Reading are particularly memorable as they show numerous “real Thames Valley” buses in the background. The photo of TDF834 shows the garage of Vincents of Reading in the background – now long since gone. This was where the coach bodies on Thames Valley Bristol L6B 461 and 464 (DMO665/668) were constructed."
Operator looking for buses.
Ken Gladstone of the PSV Circle writes "An Oxfordshire operator is looking for two coach/buses with around 45-55 seats for school runs of up to 10 miles a day. If anyone know of any surplus vehicles which could fit this bill, could they please e-mail me. Budget is 10 to 15k for the two". firstname.lastname@example.org
A few snippets from Vikki Lee.
may already know this, but it appears that Birmingham Coach company have bought
10 Lances - one of which is confirmed as N 901 PFC - the history of which you
are well acquainted with.
Too, is there any interest in the Luxicars fleet on your group??? A neighbour drives for them and often brings his work home with him. Reason I mention this is that currently there is a Merc mini outside (which I have photographed) which appears to in a modified all-over silver livery with the usual two-tone blue stripes and Luxicars fleetlines and legals. It is K 323 YKG. Don't know if this has always been theirs since new and is re-painted, or recently bought in (I first saw it here a month or so ago). Happy to send a photo for the group when the film is used up."
Is the News page the right size.
Last week I raised the question regarding the content and size of this page each week. Several comments were received, some saying it was too large whereas others said it was just right and they enjoyed breaking the monotony of Monday with a good read. I conclude that if you don't want to read everything then just select what you do and if you enjoy the page, then it makes my efforts worthwhile each week.
Last week's "competition".
Last week I posted a picture under the Stagecoach heading asking you "to spot the deliberate mistake". well, the winner was Neil Gow who was back on Sunday evening with the answer and then early on Monday young Mr Whitley wrote. Several others came back but congratulations to Neil Gow, have a coffee on me, I'll send you a postal order. Will 2/6d do?
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 22nd May 2005
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News of the local companies – 22nd May 2005
Last week I featured the fact that every two hours there is competition on the 74 with buses from both Arriva and First. Neil Gow writes "There's a history to the "competition" on the 74. You will recall it was a joint hourly service from Wycombe to Slough. Well, First wanted to extend the route to Heathrow Airport but Arriva didn't. Somehow or other they got into a situation where First registered their journeys to Heathrow, but still with only one vehicle. If Arriva continued to provide the one vehicle there would have been some gaps in the hourly frequency between Wycombe and Slough, so Arriva registered the hourly frequency over that section. This led to the duplication of some journeys. Now First have withdrawn their Heathrow extension but still run a two hourly service over duplicate times. You would think they would have sorted it by now, especially as they still accept each other's Explorer tickets.
Thanks for showing the picture of the First Dart. My son Stephen refuses to believe First don't run their 74 entirely with Citaros, basically because he only sees it on a Saturday when they seem to have an extra one spare for the service."
I was in the bus station at Wycombe last weekand one of the engineers told me that a lot had been spent on fitting electronic displays to the fleet. The latest bus I saw so fitted was Scania 3144 but missed a picture by seconds.
Vario 2171 now also has an electronic display and is seen here on Thursday waiting to depart for Bourne End.
New Volvo 3863 caught this week on the 326 last Monday.
New Volvo 3864 shows the benefit of the new bus wash at Wycombe last Monday.
Problems with parking in Downley in the evening and at weekends have meant that the new Volvos
cannot be used and here Dart 3827 is on Sunday working of the 31 - 220505
A major investment in modern destination equipment has been taking place over recent weeks as reported on this page and on Monday I noticed that a Scania has also received new equipment, the bus in question being 3144. It was working a 329 service to Reading and escaped my lens by seconds.
I loved the posters on display in the window of the Arriva travel office at Wycombe Bus Station last week.
I noticed that Charlton Services had a recent arrival in service on Tuesday, being an ex Shearings Volvo with Jonckheere bodywork - R943YNF.
No reports for this week except to note that the coach fleet is looking much better these days.
Coach 5 heads down the Stokenchurch cutting towards Oxford last Wednesday.
I notice from this angle that the radio aerial resides on a blue patch suggesting transfer from another coach?
Coach 54 heads up the M40 cutting towards Gatwick last Wednesday. It looks very shiny and clean and hardly three years old.
I understand that this operator has purchased six Volvo Interurbans from Stagecoach and another one now repainted and based at High Wycombe is L585JSA. If anyone gets pictures of these in service please do let me have copies for the page.
Magpie Travel, High Wycombe
Ash of Wooburn Moor trade as Magpie Coaches and operate a dozen or so coaches and minibuses on school services around High Wycombe.
A Mercedes mini coach, M634UCT, with a body I do not recognise near Newlands Bus Station last Monday.
James Smith sent this picture of MK Metro's nr 55.
The 757 calls at Wycombe Bus Station and here D307 leaves the town centre to make the long climb back to the M40 at Handy Cross. 220505
Chris Maxfield caught 22207 last Friday evening on a 20 service to Chipping Norton.
Some readers may be unaware that the X4 has three journeys in the evening and all day Sunday
when the X4 is extended to Wantage. Here 34467 loads for the 1930 departure last Friday.
Changes in Banbury
Rob Williams writes "Details of service changes in the Banbury area from 5th June were published on the Stagecoach website last week.
The highlights are two new kick start schemes that see the doubling of the frequencies on routes B1/B2 and 488, and four new Optare Solos on order. The B1 and B2 become separate routes in their own right, each running every 30 minutes. The B2 is also extended to Bodicote to remove the diversion from the X59, whilst also tripling the frequency! The 488 will increase from every two hours to every hour with some peak and school journeys operating express as 489s.
The X59 is renumbered 59, and a new variation - the 59A - via Duns Tew and Middle Barton is introduced. The existing 59 in the mornings via Kirtlington is renumbered 59B.
The Solos won't arrive for a month or two, so in the meantime there will be a temporary fleet reshuffle to cover the extra commitments:
Once the Solos arrive everything should go back home, except 16525 which is to remain at Oxford. The result in Banbury will be an entirely low floor operation apart from the B7 and 59.
There will be a major rebranding exercise taking place at roughly the same time, and new bus stop flags along the main "B" routes. Watch this space.
Ralph Adams adds "The Banbury changes will involve new low floor buses on certain services and 1 or 2 Varios will probably be surplus when the new buses arrive. (42586/88/624). 42624 is the unique (to Stagecoach) of the UVG CitiStar bus. I do not know which ones will go or where.
In addition to the Stagecoach town services, Hartwool (Bicester) operate one local service. I gather this receives a subsidy from the new estate developers as well as the County. It certainly needs it as on the trip I made on the service recently, only one other passenger was carried at an income of 60 pence. Frequently no passengers are on a round trip. The driver quoted typical total day on-bus income which is minimal.
Midland Red South tried to expand the rural network with 2 hour frequencies on most services some years ago. These have virtually all gone now although Thursday market services seem to have good loadings, mainly from independents using coaches (from school duties). This is not the way to expand public transport with large steps to enter with heavy shopping.
There certainly appears good public parking facility.
This contrasts with Oxford where a full day parking is a minimum of £15 and application for a rise of 10-15% in prices is being considered."
Andy Gilmour adds "Banbury is one of those towns which always seems an enigma to me.
It is fairly large but only supports a Stagecoach allocation of less than 20 buses, with a town network which seems to struggle and only 3 basic country corridors (Chipping Norton, Brackley and Oxford).
Is it the presence of several sizeable independents in the market (Chenery, Amos) which causes this, or are taxis very popular, or is it too easy to drive to town and park?
Newbury is another town of similar size which seems to share the phenomenon."
Rob adds news re the Mercedes minibuses saying "40659 was withdrawn following the loss of the X8 contract from 12th December."
Ralph notes "Following the loss of the X8 contract at Chipping Norton, the dedicated bus was surplus, which I believe was 40657. On the April fleet list, 40659 was sold to unknown operator".
Chris Maxfield visited Harwell IBC out station site today and sent the following two pictures. Amongst the buses pictured is 16521. normal allocation for this unit are the Volvo B10Ms with Alexander PS bodies plus the Paladins.
The first two Megabus M A N coaches entered service last Tuesday, 17th May, with 50046 working the 1100hrs to London followed by 50058 on the 1145 shortly thereafter. Martyn Banham was on hand to record 50046 leaving Gypsy Lane London bound the next day.
I was waiting to operate the 1115 departure and so followed 50046 to London where I was able to get a picture of it leaving on its first return journey to Oxford.
My departure from London was with the 1415 and I had a nice surprise when I found 50058 was rostered for this working. Apart from the fact that an explanation was required for intending passengers all went well and I found the coach very responsive and rattle free.
Several other correspondents noted the introduction of the old Tubes and sent pictures which I have included.
50047 is still under preparation prior to entry into service.
Chris Maxfield took this picture of 50058 at Lewknor last Friday.
Chris Maxfield took this picture of 50058 at Marble Arch last Friday.
The last of the 25 Neoplan coaches, 50125 T60UBE, for The Oxford Tube heads up the M40 cutting last Wednesday.
Neoplans 50110 and 50117 are presently away, being the first tow for post-delivery modifications. Hence the entry into service of 50046 and 50058.
Neoplan to record is 50145 YN05WEC and Stephen Le Bras also reports "You
may have noted 50150 (YN05WEK) parked up in the Greenline bus station
from S/C Chesterfield. It left with no blind display at around 12.30. A similar
thing happened with the 8am departure but I was the other side of Park Lane so
could not identify it."
There are seemingly a number of changes to Megabus operations and the new Neoplans. The only ones I have not seen in London are the three for Manchester 50147-9 which may well have been delivered by now?
Steve wrote to advise on two matters. The first relates to the old school bus Mega deckers and their names
The names are
MSC Ark ade
B10 MSE Joan of ark
B10 MDC Ark Royal
B10 MKC Ark e type
B10 MWA Ark Angel
B10 MWC Ark lightning
B10 MKF Ark the 'erald angel
B10 MBD Ark d'triumph
B10 MFC Ark wright
The second relates to the full delivery of the new Volvo 6 wheel deckers and their registrations,
Now a picture of all those lined up would really be something. Any offers?
Z & S of Aylesbury
A Volvo/Van Hool J454HDS of Z&S waits time at High Wycombe last Monday.
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I had never heard of ATG but Gavin Francis found this Mercedes mini coach whilst on holiday in Oia-Santorini
your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me
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
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
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