Monday 23rd October 2006
next update week ending 4th November 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
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The rain has been coming down this weekend making photography difficult and it less than inviting to venture outside. I suppose the most interesting news in Oxford is the affect of the on-going roadworks which continue to cause delay to our bus and coach services.
The Green Road project is now scheduled to finish on November 9th according to BBC Radio Oxford, which I am sure will be most welcome news to all who use the roads around that area. We will await with interest to see how the new layout will affect traffic flows. It is also interesting to note that so far little or no work has taken place on the revised arrangements for a bus/coach facility at Thornhill Park & Ride. One wonders when work will start?
The centre of Oxford, especially over the Magdalen Bridge is still affected by works and as I mentioned in my week update, I am somewhat surprised that work is in progress on both sides of the road causing quite a lot of problems especially for cyclists who have little space to ride their bikes. One wonders if it might not have been better to complete one side before starting the other?
Indeed Noam Bleicher asks some interesting questions on matters of roadworks in the city. I hope Noam will not mind my quoting his letter as it raises some salient points.
"The problems caused by the roadworks on the High Street have made life in the city hell - as confirmed by someone trying to use the No 4 bus service, which passes through these works. The same disruption was caused by works at Green Road, and before that on the Cowley and Abingdon Roads, all for one simple reason - works are carried out like an office operation, 8am to 3pm, weekdays only.
Why in the world are they not done at the very least from 6pm until 6am? Or better still, 24 hours per day, seven days per week? By whom, or by what process, is the decision taken to disrupt the travel and the working lives of so many people? Other councils and other institutions have realised that such projects can be achieved by these means, more quickly, at least as efficiently and without the hidden costs of the present choices which appear in no budget sheet. Why can this not be done in Oxford? Instead of frustrated grumblings, why do Oxford's citizens not demand an explanation of the perceived merits of the schemes chosen and the contracts awarded? It is done with our money. Can we not have a debate on this subject in these columns?
Finally we would like to know if short-hours working, and the outrageous disruption this causes, will be repeated when the strategically vital Headington corridor is re-engineered?"
Indeed I can only agree with Noam on the point about the Headington corridor. It must be most frustrating for bus and coach passengers to find their journeys made unreliable by these current works and as such maybe creating an aversion to travel in and around Oxford. One must also feel sympathy for operators trying to provide services which meet the criteria laid down by Government regulations and reliability to passengers who often cannot understand why their service is affected and are also less than understanding to the crews trying to operate same.
Bus services in Oxfordshire
For those of you who wonder who operates what, where does it and how often the link below may prove very useful.
Oxfordshire Bus Services 2006
The Oxford Bus Museum - October bus rally - The Oxford Bus Museum Web Site
Mike Bennett writes " I went down to the Oxford Bus Museum's bus rally last Sunday and took some photos of the assembled buses at the museum, Oxford Airport, and Water Eaton P+R. Attached are a few of them, including some of the more unusual visitors to the Oxford area.
Most of them need no captions - but one or two deserve mention."
A49VDE - yellow single deck - is a Leyland Tiger / Marshall Campaigner B70F from The Schoolbus Company of Kingston Bagpuize.
KHA301 - Midland Red coach - BMMO C1 / Duple C30C.
(I remember these coaches in service coming through my home town of Altrincham, Cheshire, on their way from Manchester to London.
In the early 1950s they always had two crew both attired in white coats and hats with white tops.
The second man would step from the coach with a flourish as the vehicle stopped and it seemed very grand to my then young eyes. Ed.)
EHA 424D - BMMO D9 / BMMO frames finished by Willowbrook H40/32RD.
OVL473 - Lincolnshire Road Car - Bristol FS5G / ECW H33/27RD from 1960.
SLT 59 - London Transport Greenline - RMC4 prototype ECW bodied Routemaster coach.
The others pictures as said are more or less self explanatory and the event seemed a great success. (Thank goodness it was last Sunday and not this Ed.)
The above pictures give a good idea of what was on view during the day.
Mike also sent this picture taken inside the Museum which is growing in stature every year.
Mike says "I am still enjoying seeing the contents of your website - some very interesting items recently."
Mike Bennett was not the only contributor from this event and other pictures were received from Alan Gelson.
Alan's pictures show more of the vehicles attending and some different views.
My visit to Milton Keynes
Today I visited Milton Keynes for the first time, having only passed by on the outskirts previously. My wife and a friend had an appointment and I was free for a few hours to look around. I was struck by how deserted the place seemed when I first got there. My first view of the Central Bus Station was one of a people less place built in concrete although everywhere seemed full of parked cars. As I began to look around I found myself comparing MK with certain Dutch and German town built out of the ruins of the second world war when so much of Europe was obliterated by bombing. I suppose its very nice when you know where you are going and it is said to be very easy to navigate around as all roads are parallel.
Hardly a living soul in sight and its not a Sunday.
After looking around the central bus station, where I noted the cafe to be very busy but I think it was off duty bus crews, I wandered over the the Central Rail Station where things were a bit more lively. Buses and coaches were coming and going and there was an air of activity in the station hall. I was looking at the departure board and was surprised to see that the Oxford Bus was mentioned. However it actually referred to the Stagecoach X5 service. This company also operates the Virgin Trains service to Luton airport and there are specially liveried coaches to work this route. My pictures below show this in more detail.
I wasn't quite sure why the route details were not included on the X5 service departure on the train board?
The Arriva X15 service was to have been operated by three Tridents transferred from Luton off the 38. However the bridge at Linslade is seemingly too low, 13' 9", and so a variety of buses may now be found on the route as seen below.
The Olympian, 5832, once ran for COMS on the Reading and Aylesbury routes out of Oxford
before being transferred to Wycombe Bus where it was converted to single door.
It is now based at Aylesbury and can often be seen in Oxford as well as other areas served by that depot.
On our way to Mk we saw this Scania, 3151, in Wing on its way back to Aylesbury.
The local buses are almost exclusively MK Metro with a few Arriva, Stagecoach, Red Rose and Z&S workings. During my time I did see Grant & Palmer on a local working but mostly MK Metro. Although this company has been taken over by Arriva there is no outward indication of this fact at all. The buses still carry the livery, fleet numbers and legal lettering as before. The latest Arriva fleet book shows Arriva fleet numbers but so far nothing is shown the buses. My pictures below give a flavour of what is to be seen and I will publish more next week.
Route 5 has a variety of buses in use and one can travel quickly to the main shopping area on this service from the Rail Station.
Having spent some time in MK Central followed by an excellent Chinese Buffet - £5.50 for as much as one could eat I went out to MK Coachway near the M1 and saw how busy this small location is. Whilst I was there for about 15 minutes I saw seven express services pass through including the X5 on its way from Oxford to Cambridge. Indeed on a day explorer ticket one could do a great deal of the local area as the service is every 30 minutes.
Several services passed through MK Coachway including the 425 to Ashington and the 777 to Stansted Airport.
A local service for the Coachway and the adjacent Park & ride site is operated by MK Metro.
An altogether interesting day in what was not quite such a bad place as I had first thought but it is nevertheless very different to a normal UK city. Well worth visiting though. More pictures next week.
Gavin Francis visits Hemel Hempstead
Whilst I was heading north east to MK Gavin Francis was heading east to Hemel Hempstead today. A few samples of the picture she took are included below and more will follow next week.
It appears that this coach was filling in on a Park & ride service between London duties.
This Palatine II bodied Olympian is branded for route 5/6 in Hemel.
When first transferred to Aylesbury the Tridents were expected to work the X15 to MK.
However the bridge at Linslade is too low so they are now seen on the 280 and 500.
UNO services operate in the area operated by this decker amongst other buses.
When Gavin was en route to Hemel he called in at Binders Yard, Wycombe and caught a new arrival to the Magpie fleet.
The Volvo is ex Stagecoach.
Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new.
Malcolm Crowe - Monday 23rd October 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 23rd October 2006
Gavin Francis writes "Just got the latest LOTS magazine which has a picture of Arriva 5432 which is in Inter-urban livery with Line 500 branding. (This bus was on the 280 on Saturday morning. Ed.) They also report another Dart is due for the U9 as 3482 is not fully to TfL standards. (I had heard that it was to be a VDL200 with Wright's bodywork Ed.)"
Yet another bus for Staff Transport at High Wycombe is this Mercedes 2118 in use last Friday.
The 324 route has only a few days left as it will be withdrawn on 30th October. Here we see Scania 3157 in the latest livery on this route last Friday.
The bus is seen leaving High Wycombe's new bus station .
Another Scania, this time unrepainted 3144 on a schools duty last Friday. This bus later turned up in Radnage.
A view of the variety to be seen in High Wycombe.
Details of the affects of the withdrawal of the 324 routed Aylesbury - Little Kimble - High Wycombe via Stoke Mandeville, Princes Risborough and Naphill is that it is replaced by other journeys on the 323 and that Little Kimble will NO longer be served.
Carousel's DAF976 seen in High Wycombe and later still in Radnage.
Two of the Darts purchased from London carry green Countyrider livery and 423 now has branding.
It is seen above at Bledlow Ridge last Friday where it appeared to bring home only two school children
which must make it a very expensive service to provide.
Alistair Liddle asks "Can you tell me if any of the Lothian Atlanteans which were down on the Oxford Tour are still there or have they been sold on or scrapped?"
A first glimpse of the new livery as applied to the double deck fleet is provided this week by Alan Gelson. I must say that I think it looks very smart and I can't wait to see these buses in service.
Besides this bus one can see one of the two training buses, 963 which when in service as a bus carried the fleet number 646.
Alan Gelson writers to include two more pictures of this Trident saying "the only other photo's I have of it were taken on the 23rd July 06 at Abingdon airfield, when we used it for the finals of the local heat for the Bus Driver of the year competition."
Volvo 805 crosses Magdalen Bridge last week with the Magdalen Tower as a background.
An interesting comment from Paul Dudfield plus a picture of two models was received last week. Paul says "The new OBC livery obviously pays homage to the traditional COMS livery. However, recent pictures on OCBP suggest that it is rather dull when used without route branding. My experience of painting models in the traditional COMS livery has shown that the pale green bands were absolutely crucial. Perhaps a similar relief colour is needed for the new livery."
The enclosed photo shows the CMNL OBC red Citaro alongside and EFE Regent V which has been stretched to the correct length for COMS 965.
An interesting thought, Paul, but one which I am not sure if the powers that be at OBC would agree with. Ed.
David Harrison writes to say - The Oxford Bus Company are making the following changes starting on 10th December 2006.
The long awaited new double deck coaches for services run by Trathens have begun to arrive. They are Neoplans not unlike the Oxford Tube/Megabus ones but with several significant differences. I have covered the coaches in some detail as they do offer a comparison to the ones of the type used in Oxford.
First of all they do not have a nearside front door.
Secondly they have a drivers door on the offside.
The gearbox is of a different type and I must find out how they drive compared to the Stagecoach variety.
Seating capacity is similar to the Oxford Tube models but lacking in the two tip up seats where the wheelchair goes.
The fittings for the wheelchair are identical.
From the rear they are more or less identical to the Stagecoach models.
The batch is 12 coaches with all to receive LSK registrations with the exception of one which will be 290WE. LSK821, 824 and 827 were in service by last Thursday.
I will try to get a further view on these vehicles when the chance arises to see how they compare with the Stagecoach models. I understand this batch were also built in Poland and I also understand that they will be the last of the type as Neoplan seem not to intend to offer right hand drive models in the future.
The older and shorter coaches they replace are seemingly leaving the Trathens fleet.
These Neoplans work very tight schedules as reported by Stephen Le Bras who says "For the record, on Saturday LSK821 arrived off service 540 around 11.45 and left to go on stand around 12.10 for service 504."
R H Transport
RH MX55 WCY works a local service in Kidlington, the 223, in this picture taken by Vikki Lee..
I asked and my wish was granted. Vicki sent a picture of 42624 on service 7E in Kidlington.
Interestingly this bus was caught on a 2A stop at High Street in this nice picture from Vikki Lee.
M A N 22209 has received branding for a Lottery draw. It is seen last Saturday at Horspath depot.
M A N 22947 is seen crossing the Magdalen Bridge last week on route 1.
David Harrison writes "I have noticed that two Mercedes minibuses have moved from Stagecoach in Oxford to Tanat Valley Coaches, a family-run operator based near the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Powys (http://www.tanat.co.uk). They run a variety of local bus and school work in the Oswestry and Llanfyllin areas on the English/Welsh border, and have a depot miles from anywhere down narrow country lanes - when I went there about 18 months ago we met a double decker on a single track road.
This is what their enthusiast site (http://www.tanatvalleycoaches.50megs.com) has to say about their new arrivals: They are both manual and from Stagecoach Oxford regs N657/658 VSS. 157 (N657 VSS) arrived in white and has had swoops added to it, and 158 (N658 VSS) is currently being painted. There is also a picture of N658 VSS at: http://michellespiccis.fotopic.net/p33136490.html
David adds regarding service revisions
The rear branding first seen on 50108 has now been applied to 50113 and is slightly different when compared to those early pictures of 50108.
It seems as every one is different in the case of the upper deck window branding.
Keep your eyes open for the different messages, often different on each side of the coach.
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
HISTORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS
Referring to the item above on the new Neoplan coaches for National Express, Paul Dudfield writes "Oxford, of course, has long been a magnet for foreign tourists so Neoplan Skyliners are not exactly a new phenomenon there. Enclosed is picture taken in Oxford in 1977. It is interesting that although Neoplan have skilfully updated the design over the years, the basic shape remains the same. This must surely count as a classic bus design?"
For comparison I include a picture taken by Gavin Francis last week in Oxpens which shows the very latest Skyliner offering from Neoplan.
Hugh Ferris writes "Your web site was mentioned to me by someone at Thames Travel. I wonder if you can assist.
I am trying to find out what happened to a coach operator by the name of Marchants Coaches Ltd who were based in Wallingford.
By way of further explanation, the reason I am seeking information is that fitted to the dashboard of my 1964 Austin Healey 3000 is a small plastic label stating 'supplied by Marchants of Wallingford'.
My guess is that there is a link between the two companies, i.e., Marchants Coaches and Marchants the Austin dealers/suppliers (or BMC dealers as they were in those days), and therefore I would like to know anything about either company.
By the way, lots of enthusiasts refer to the Big Healey engine as a lorry engine which is appropriate because originally it was used (in an undeveloped form) to power both lorries and buses.Any information would be appreciated."
Chris Stanley writes "Hello....we thought you may be interested to know that we have just introduced a new chapter on our website of Reading vehicles taken in the late 60's.
The website is http://www.theredlondonbus.com/ -- click on GLORY DAYS".
I found an interesting link for pictures of City of Oxford-South Midland at http://nationalbusco.fotopic.net/c386070.html
If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at email@example.com
Coming events & models
DVD s by Robin Clare
The full details of DVDs available from Robin Clare may be found at his web site :- http://www.robinclare.co.uk/
Latest Citaro models revealed
Dave Rogers sent the following press release.
CREATIVE MASTER NORTHCORD - PRESS RELEASE
Mercedes-Benz Citaro - ukbus 5004 Arriva Manchester - ukbus 5007 Oxford Bus
Creative Master Northcord Limited is proud to release two brand new liveries on its well known Mercedes-Benz Citaro casting. Both models have received significant, yet different, modifications to the tooling in order to represent, as close to 100% accuracy as possible, the real buses on the roads.
ukbus 5004 represents fleet number Arriva North West’s 2851 (CX55 EAA). This Mercedes Citaro is one of three such vehicles with dedicated route branding for service 700 and with the destination set to Manchester. The model features a redesigned interior layout that includes the reduced seating capacity and luggage racks.
Starting on 29th October 2005, Arriva North West’s service 700 runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly Railway Station to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. For the service, 3 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased and numbered 2851-3. They were painted in the same style and colours as the Scania OmniCity buses that already operated between John Lennon and Liverpool city centre.
ukbus 5007 represents fleet number 830 (X13 OXF) of Oxford Bus Company. 830 entered service in December 2003, to upgrade the X3 & X13 Oxford – Abingdon services. The bus was painted in a new and distinctive livery designed by Best Impressions.
ukbus 5007 features the smooth, curved windscreen with the destination display set behind the windscreen glass rather than the protruding destination found on the Park & Ride Citaros in the fleet. This feature is one of the standard specifications on other Citaros that the Go-Ahead Group has purchased.
Mercedes-Benz Citaro ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are each a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the square-mounted, double-glazed windows and the livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. Another main feature on both models is the extensive portrayal of handrails. The headlight / indicator units at the front and indicator / tail light units at the rear are made of individual components to look more realistic.
The brand new single-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus models will be distributed by John Ayrey Die-Casts Limited (UK), Porte Publishing Company (Japan) and Concorde Hobby Shop (HK) respectively. The ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are limited to 1700 pieces worldwide respectively.
Model Buses for Sale
prices revised with immediate effect
I have a revised deal on Models for your readers...
Each of the following models are available for the following price :
Each Model = £10.00
Postage is £4.00 regardless of the number of models.
UKBUS 1014 - CREATIVE MASTER OXFORD P&R TRIDENT
UKBUS 5002 - CREATIVE MASTER OXFORD P&R CITARO
UKBUS 2012 - CREATIVE MASTER BROOKES BUS TRIDENT
CORGI ORIGINAL OMNIBUS OXFORD ESPRESS EXCALIBUR
Once again this offer is only available by emailing me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
More models are for sale on my eBay store, http://www.modelsmk.co.uk/shop
Would readers who respond to the above please quote my site when doing so.
If you wish to be included on a mailing list where
I will advise of any mid week news & when
each News Page is posted
please let me know on email@example.com
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
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
A web site which has paintings of buses.
The latest handbook from BBF was
on sale at Cobham and was the ever popular Stagecoach edition now in its 13th
As in earlier editions it includes the 2006 new bus orders.
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002