Issue 47
(OBP-263)

Monday 22nd September 2003

next update week ending 4th October 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

This weekend saw the annual Wycombe Arriva Bus Running Day at Newlands Bus Station. Three routes were operated with Routemasters operating a service to Penn on the 363 and also the 305 to Beaconsfield. Arriva also provided Lynxs to run a historic route, the 37 to Henley via Lane End and Fingest. I was in time to see the first departure on the 37 operated by Lynx 3070. A number of photos were taken including it passing through Lane End and Fingest. It must be many years since a large bus went through that village.


Here we see 3070 approaching the Chequers pub from the direction of Lane End.
It had traversed some very narrow lanes and must have surprised the locals.

The run from High Wycombe included passing through the village of Wheeler End before turning down to Lane End, where it made a right turn towards Freith.


I have included offside and nearside shots of 3070 as I know many of you read the page and
you may be able to make your self out in the above pictures.

Leaving Fingest the Lynx headed towards Hambleden and Henley. To the left of my picture is the road towards Turville and just a few hundred yards along this road was the dormy shed built by Thames Valley. It is now gone and in its place stands a house.


The weather was kind to everyone and I am sure those onboard 3070 enjoyed the run to Henley and back.

The next journey was operated by a a coach seated Lynx seen below leaving Newlands Bus Station.

On the Routemaster front I managed a few shots myself and am very grateful to Brian Matthews for another shot of RM2407 operating the 305 at Beaconsfield seen below.

This bus had earlier operated a 363 service to Penn as seen below.

It is seen below returning to Wycombe during a cloudy moment in the day.

There was also another rally in our area when AECs gathered at The Chalfont Open Air Museum for their Southern Rally. Colin Cooke sent this delightful photo of two from London.

Arriva certainly made an excellent contribution to the rally scene on Sunday 21st September.

On sale at the Wycombe Running Day was the very latest book on operations by Thames Valley. This book, written and published by Paul Lacey covers the period from 1931-1945 during which time many smaller operators in the Chilterns area were absorbed. Names such as The Penn Bus Company and Thackray's Way feature in this excellent book by Paul. Of particular interest are the vehicle allocations for 1939 and 1945. Many dormy sheds such as Fingest, Stokenchurch, Princes Risboro' and Wantage are mentioned. The cover of the book is seen below and this can be obtained from your normal supplier or direct from Paul at the address below. Price is 25.00

17 Sparrow Close
Woosehill
Wokingham Berks RG41 3HT

Next Sunday sees the annual bash at Duxford when one may expect a fantastic display of buses and coaches, both modern and historical. You can check on the latest at http://www.showbus.com/subind1.htm . I'll be there with my camera to catch a local flavour for our area but if you get any useful photos please do send them to me.

One of my correspondents wrote with an interesting discovery. It concerns Swanbrook from Witney to Oxford. He says "When I was at Witney recently, a passenger waiting to go to Oxford said she used Swanbrook as it was cheaper than Stagecoach. As she was just boarding, I did not find out any more details.

I am surprised that Stagecoach have not provided a direct service as they cover both ends. I believe that about 10 years ago we just had the village bus to Swindon by Thamesdown (63/65) but Stagecoach introduced an hourly direct service to Swindon (Route 66) at a fare of 66 pence. It now carries good loadings.
"

Stephen Morris of Buses fame writes "Just picked up on the two/three-axle d-d debate on Crowe.com. Don't forget, the max GVW on two axles has gone up progressively from 16tonnes when Leyland was still building buses to 18tonnes, hence the ability to build  12m deckers on two axles now. Also the Hong Kong buses had all sorts of air con gubbins above the engine which would have added to the rear axle weight, regardless of GVW. HK don't always amend regs at the same time as us (eg Enviro 500s are on dispensation as they're to the latest Euro 2.55m wide, and HK regs are still at 2.5m) which might also have some bearing"  Does anyone have any further thoughts on this matter.

Ralph Adams wrote "On Thursday morning, a full size white coach with red lining and 001 Oxford on the rear was going down St Aldates. No pen with me at the time but it had a personalised registration number.  I presume that it is part of 001 cars but I not previously known them to operate anything larger than a 16 seat minibus. It certainly will not fit under the arch in St Aldates or in the front of the house in Cowley Road. I would be interested to know its operating centre "

Can anyone help Ralph on this one?

My same correspondent has been trawling the Traffic Commissioners web site and comes up with some interesting information. He says "Peter Blowfield T/A Walters Limousines have registered 2 new routes from 27th Oct.
159 Addenbury - Deddington
259 Deddington - Heyford
You may recall the County asked for quotes on 2 small buses for Cherwell area and they then purchased 2 Optare Aleros. Walters have won the operational contract to connect into the X59. They have also registered changes on the services to Bicester North station (are the train times changing?)

Red Rose have registered changes on the 275 Oxford - High Wycombe  from 27/10/03. I do not know details, but changes do not encourage regular travellers normally.

Stagecoach Swindon 63 Oxford - Faringdon will be withdrawn from 27th October. When talking to the County Transport Officer a few weeks ago, he said that the revised service to be introduced, Stagecoach was not going to tender for the type of operation that would be required in future. No new registration by any other operator made at present. I find it strange that no changes have been registered for the 65/66 either as these services interwork throughout the day.


I also received comment from an irregular visitor to Oxford regarding the confusion seemingly often caused by indiscriminate parking in St Aldates. The picture below sent in shows how buses backed up whilst he was there because a car had parked outside the Town Hall and a log jam had occurred.

Buses and Coaches I have driven


Sometime in 1962 I was offered a one week tour to Great Yarmouth by what was
then Shearings Holidays based in Salford. The livery was red and grey.
My steed was a Bedford SB3 with Plaxton C41F bodywork VBA683

More memories of buses that I have driven came looking at the picture above. This shows a group of tour passengers on the Shearings tour to Great Yarmouth. Tours started from a depot in Salford, close to the gasworks. I can remember how very pleased we all were to get away from the area and breath some fresh air. The coach above is mentioned in the history of Shearings book and was an early member of the old fleet before Jackson's of Altrincham took over and modern development began.

I remember we went through the Potteries and crossed towards Leicester where lunch was taken at The Odeon Cinema. In those days such places were favourite stops for coach operators. I think the 7 day tour cost about 8 and such tours were very popluar with senior citizens of those days.

The coach in question had a Bedford 330cu in diesel and that engine was beside the driver. It was a rather noisy little beast and I think one was better off nearer the back. One did however have a double seat by the driver and this was also popular with passengers. Cases were much smaller by today's standards and one never seemed pushed for space. Top speed was in the low 50s and climbing ability was limited. I do remember as an enthusiast driver how one always wished one could be driving a "proper coach" such as a Leyland or AEC. Such coaches were often beyond the means of the smaller operators and Bedfords or Fords were considered quite adequate. Today a comparison might be made between a Volvo and a Dennis Dart. Such vehicles always seem to be working so much harder than their larger brothers. It was ever so with the Bedford. A week away in Norfolk was quite pleasant and I suppose much as now drivers were expected to help with the passengers at the hotel, running the bar was a chore I seem to remember. We fuelled and parked at the local operator of those days, Caroline Seagull Coaches.

I now have some more details about the Amersham Running Day which this year will be on Sunday 5th October 2003.

Amersham & District Motor Bus Society 15th Running Day, in association with RT/RF Register. Amersham London Underground station car park starting at 10.00. Details: Brian Barlow, Orchard Hose, 20 Wheelwrights, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 5QS. Phone: 01296 613001 or Anthony Bassett, phone: 01494 522531. Info from - http://www.busweb.co.uk/aecbus/rallies.htm

Well, now on to the reports for our area. Your contributions continue and I am pleased to receive them each week.

Malcolm Crowe, September 22nd 2003.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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

News of the local companies 22nd September 2003


Dart MPD 3485 appeared this week on the same working shown on last week's page , when 3823 was in charge.

Surprisingly this week there are no reports on Arriva from all my usual correspondents.  However I notice that Woottens will be taking Olympian 5827 (ex 227) to Showbus. I also note from the latest issue of Buses that 5088 (F638LMJ) and 5083(F633LMJ) have been sold to Western Greyhound.

Carousel Buses, High Wycombe


Brian Matthews took this very nice picture of Carousel's L556, last Sunday, running into Newlands Bus Station.

 

  

   


Several people have asked about livery and destination displays on the Oxford Tridents.
Here 112 shows new livery and old display.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of news this week is the reinstatement of Volvo coaches 1-5 on the X90. These have returned to service to cover for further warranty work and the need to ensure service regularity in view of the ever increasing traffic pressure on services using the M40 and M25. There has also been an increase in services on the X90 at weekends when the need for additional coaches has been felt in recent months.

As ever Rob Williams sends his usual spottings and jottings.

Mon 15th 

101 on 4A    511 on 5A

Tue 16th

223 on 22A card     403 on 5

646 on X13 - it was unable to show the route number on the front

633 has circular tail lights fitted, similar to those one or two of the Tridents and 8xx Volvos.

104 on 4A     511 on 5A

Wed 17th

224 on 22A

14 branded 502 on 5A

The Olympians seem to have disappeared, the 22 has been wholly single deck operated for most of the week.

103 on 4A

Thu 18th

222 on 22A to start    502 on 5    104 on 4A

To clarify the double deck rosters, I am led to understand now that a red Trident is scheduled for a working on the 4 group of routes, two red Tridents on 5 road and the final red one on 2 road. Of course this cannot always happen and for operational or engineering requirements odd allocations can and do occur. For example 22 road is not scheduled for low floor buses but as can be seen from the picture below 803 was on 22 road last Saturday all day.


Last Saturday Volvo B10BLE 803 is seen coming down New Road on route 22.

Olympian 224 is expected to attend Showbus along with Citaro 822. Oxford Bus will also have a stand there.

The very avid VCS spotter, a gentleman pictured some weeks ago on these pages tells me that he has now seen both Airline Volvo B12Bs 29 and 30 on X90 workings into Victoria. This is in addition to 26-28 which now very often see service on the X90.

Neil Gow wrote saying "Here's a picture I took Saturday of 633 passing under the station bridge while a Turbo train of sister company Thames Trains goes over."

First Berkshire


Pictured leaving Newlands Bus Station, Wycombe, last Sunday is First Berks 234 on a 74 working.

 

David Whitley, Marketing Manager of the company has asked for the latest attached fleet list (period 6 - September 2003) to be published in this week's page. you will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file. Click here to view.

getacro.gif (712 bytes)


Dart Alexander Dash 32705, out of Banbury depot works an X59 in Oxford.


Vario 42381 out of Witney depot works an 18 service in Oxford.


Volvo coach 52373 out of Bedford depot, devoid of any branding, works the X5 in Oxford.

Rob Williams writes "Stagecoach sighting of the week in Coventry must go to Withdrawn 14935 working an X18 service in from Stratford ! ECW Olympians are incredibly rare on X16/X17/X18 workings and this is particularly rare as 14935 is a Rugby vehicle !

Tues 16th:

31331 on X4

32069 on 1

20417 now has Stagecoach in Oxford fleetnames, 20423 has just Stagecoach

31333 still has its microscopic numbers - ignore my comment on Monday about 31330, it always had normal numbers!

Wed 17th:

Work started on 16031 to allow ticket machines to be fitted. None actually fitted though.

Thur 18th:

X4 branded 20007 on X31

16031 went out on route learning / driver training for a spell today. Still no ticket machines or blinds are fitted to either, but at the same time there is no internal sign of either of their lives in Warwickshire. The cabs do still have the old London VN3x numbers painted onto one of the panels though!"

Ralph Adams writes "The 2 Leamington Olympians on loan are 16614 & 16615 (S914 / 915ANH). These are from the same batch as S920ANH which was here a couple of years ago when the service 20 went through to Stratford for one season.  

Stagecoach X4 has one journey from Abingdon (0735 I believe) that is operated by a Kilo duty. After arrival in Oxford it takes up 7A duties, so route marked 7As can be seen regularly in Abingdon. This is the first time I am aware of a City service operating any other route on a regular basis.

LOTS have quoted that Stagecoach have placed a large order of 261 buses for provincial fleets comprising of: 21 Trident/ALX400 (18000-18020), 40 Trident/President (18021-18060), 50 MAN/ALX300 (22011-22060) and 150 Dart/Pointer 10.7m (34401-34550).  I presume this is a new order and not a late report of the current order, from which the Brookesbus vehicles are taken from.

Re above comments.

Most of 18021-18060 have already been delivered to Manchester. All have been allocated and include the Oxford 8, probably ALX.
The Darts numbered above lead on from the last London Darts and the Darts have already been allocated (7 to Oxford)
In this weeks Coach & Bus it reports that Stagecoach has advanced an order by 6 months for a further 100 ALX Tridents and 50 10.7 Dart Pointers to fill a gap at the Falkirk factory. No doubt it has been at a very competitive rate if Falkirk wanted the capacity. No allocations yet announced for these yet.

Of relevance to Oxford is the first 7 Darts. These have been promised for X4 and 10, both needing all 7 buses. It does therefore appear that the latest order will posibly include some Darts for Oxford.

Note that all potential allocations can change if another operating company can make a better case for the new buses.
"

I am now advised that there is a three delay on the arrival of the new M A Ns.

Correspondents  advise that the branded BrookesBus fleet is as follows:

31330, 31333, 16072, 16076, 16078, 16079, 16614, 16615 

Spare vehicles that may be used on BrookesBus routes are:

16140, 16141, 16144

Spare, but not for use on BrookesBus routes is:

16524

Interesting because I photographed 16524 on the first day of the U1. Ed. 

Vehicles not be used on BrookesBus routes, (but I think may go to cover others coming from outstations) are:

16439, 16031, 16032

It is reported that a normal Olympian service bus operated at least one Megabus round trip to London. Sadly no one seems to be en able to report which one.

Changes to the fare structure is reported this week from a number of sources. One can quite easily see what is going on by visiting the web site.

Adrian Lancer notes "Megabus.com fares have been risen after the initial "all tickets for 1" start.  When trying to book a ticket today (19th) all tickets bought for journeys up to and on 22nd are priced at 2 each way and from 23rd are 1 as before.
It therefore seems that if you buy your ticket less than 3 days in advance you pay 2 (even for last minute journeys as i tried the fare for a departure in 70 minutes time), otherwise it's still 1 "


Ralph Adams says "Looked at the fares today (Sunday).

For a return today, it was 4 each way  (8 total) -  same prices for Monday & Tuesday - Wednesday onwards was 2 each way - Next Monday was 1

BUT, if you wanted a single today, it was only 2 - Monday single was 2.

So today, to make a return, you make 2 single bookings and pay 2  x 50 pence booking fees."

There are in fact two ways of looking at the way these fares are done. One is to perhaps wrongly assume that if the fares go up they are not making enough, rather perhaps the opposite that if you book late, load factors can decide upon the eventual fare. On most low fare airlines, if you book late you pay a very high price. I am flying on Ryanair to Malmo on Wednesday, back Thursday. I booked the ticket three weeks ago and paid 30. The same ticket today is over 150.

Swanbrook

Adrian Lancer notes
"
The Oxfordshire county council forthcoming service changes page at:http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/index/travel/publictransport/changes-2.htm
reports that the 53 will be reduced to three return journeys M-S and just one Sundays.  I have always been a little surprised that the route is not very busy outside of peak times, as Cheltenham and Oxford are both busy, tourist towns.  I  suppose part of the problem is that the route is unattractive as it is very infrequent.  When I travelled on the route last week, the 1145 departure from Oxford (Thursday 11th) only picked up 6 passengers at Oxford, however the 0710 from Cheltenham (Monday 15th) was very busy all the way.  I was surprised that there were 2/3 people on each trip who were prepared to pay 3.90 for a single trip between Oxford and Witney, especially when the 11 and 100 are cheaper (although slightly slower)"

Thames Travel

It is reported that new Solos are arriving within weeks for route 103.

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

Pictured in High Wycombe I came across this Plaxton owned by Sodexho which appears to be something to do with the MOD?


Plaxton OU52DPO provided transport for RAF personnel at a parade in Wycombe.


The legal ownership details.


Scania/Irizar visitor to Oxford, Battersby's W916BEC.

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

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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