A busman’s holiday with Gavin Francis & Malcolm Crowe
Friday 29th May 2009
To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail
Part two - after lunch
(Part one - before lunch)
Ready for the next stage of our journey we pay the bill and head back to the bus stop for the Aylesbury service. We are nearly caught out by a swiftly arriving 61 service from Luton but just in time we make the stop and the driver swings in to pick us up. He tells us that he has had overheating problems and never made it to Luton Airport, turning in Dunstable and taking up his return service to Aylesbury. We settle down for a quick run into town noting that we are now on a 1995 Scania with East Lancs European bodywork seating 49. It is nr 3159 and seems in good order for a bus now some thirteen and half years old.
Having passed through Aston Clinton we are soon on to the main Aylesbury road and as we come into the town I notice that Nestle’s premises are now gone and some rather attractive apartment buildings have taken their place.
Nestle’s premises are now gone and some rather attractive apartment buildings have taken their place.
On our way into Aylesbury we found ourselves following one of Arriva's trainers, this being a Van Hool coach, 4352, which has had a rear window fitted.
Approaching the centre of Aylesbury, we now make what seems a rather roundabout route to access the bus station, passing along New Street, with Fleet Street on the right where my wife lived as a small girl, to turn down Oxford Road passing quite close to the old terminus of years ago, Kingsbury Square, before turning back on ourselves towards the bus station at Friars Square.
Our steed from the lunch stop, Scania 3159 seen on arrival in the bus station at Friars Square.
Aylesbury bus services prove very interesting as much work has gone into improving and extending local bus services as well as improving out of town services. In 2006, work commenced on the Public Transport Hub, a scheme comprising a one-way loop of bus lanes around the town's inner ring road, which includes improvements to the connectivity between bus and rail services. The first two phases of this scheme were completed in 2007, providing new bus lanes on Exchange Street, New Street, Friarage Road and White Hill, and also opened up the High Street to buses. The final two phases will be completed in Spring 2009.
Aylesbury is served by Buckinghamshire's first 'Rainbow Routes' network of bus services. The colour-coded routes were set up by Buckinghamshire County Council, and bus operators Arriva, Redline Buses, Star Travel and Z&S, in order to further promote bus travel within the town.
The Rainbow Routes were overhauled in February 2009, with several route and frequency changes. As of Monday 23 February, 2009, this network is composed of:
Red Route 9 - Arriva, every 15 minutes to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Hawkslade Farm, Walton Court and Southcourt. Red Route 9 was extended to service Bedgrove from February 2009.
The bus station has been much improved and in spite of being in an “underground” location appears quite light and airy. It is well lit and appeared very clean and usable by passengers. There are screens giving departures and service details and a helpful enquiry office run by Arriva. There is some limited layover space and one can easily see all the buses coming and going. Some local rainbow routes stop outside the bus station but I think the pictures below give some idea of the set up and opportunities for visiting enthusiasts.
The bright an airy Aylesbury bus station recently refurbished.
Outside the complex there is a cross roads where buses coming from the rail station can access the bus station and we found this a really good location for photography as the sun was into the western sky and just right. We enjoyed a pleasant half hour, only spoilt by a most annoyed Arriva driver who seemed to take exception to any pictures being taken of his bus, albeit on the dual carriageway. Having gone round the block via the rail station, he stopped at the traffic lights and opened his doors, got out of his driving cab and started shouting at us. Gavin suggested he come over to explain his problem, however he had a last shout and he got back in his cab and disappeared into the bus station. Personally this is one of the very few times I have had such a problem and we did find all the other drivers we met, all on Arriva buses helpful, friendly and in most cases interested in our day out.
The latest issue of Buses magazine covers this matter in some detail and if I read correctly there is nothing that can be done to stop people taking pictures in public areas and indeed one company has advised its drivers on this matter. Thankfully such occurrences are rare and one can enjoy our hobby with reasonable freedom. Of course taking pictures on private property are liable to problems but if the public have right of way I'm not sure if a prosecution would be successful.
Photo interlude in Aylesbury - pictures taken by Gavin and Malcolm.
The photos below will give some idea of the colourful bus scene in this county town in the summer of 2009
Silver Rider 1 - Z&S International, every 15 minutes to Fairford Leys
Orange Route 3 - Star Travel, every 20 minutes to Elmhurst, Haydon Hill and Quarrendon
Green Route 4 - Arriva, every 15 minutes to The Coppice, Hawkslade Farm, Walton Court and Southcourt
Water Rider 6 - Redline Buses, every 20 minutes to Elmhurst and Watermead
Purple route 7 which replaces part of route 4 and is operated by Z&S.
Red Route 9 - Arriva, every 15 minutes to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Hawkslade Farm, Walton Court and Southcourt.
Red Route 9 was extended to service Bedgrove from February 2009.
Z&S seem to have another local service to Stoke Mandeville on the 165 from the Leighton buzzard villages which this DAF was operating
Tiger Line reaches Aylesbury on their regular interval T1 service from Hemel Hempstead
Line 280 goes to Oxford via Thame and Wheatley and is operated by Arriva with new leather seated Enviro 400s.
Line 300, as we shall see, goes to Wycombe and is operated with new Citaros by Arriva.
Line 500 is operated by Arriva using a variety of buses including Tridents and serves Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead and Watford.
The Palatine II bodied Olympians once used on the 280 are now de-branded and see service on carious routes including the 261 and 280.
Older Olympians from Luton are now being cascaded to other depots and 5144 looks very smart seen in Aylesbury.
As mentioned above this bus was operating route 4 and has now been withdrawn.
Training was in progress and it was nice to see the Green line colours in Aylesbury, albeit not in service as such.
The coach, 4064, was a one off DAF once used on the 757 from Luton Airport to London.
One most interesting bus was on the staff shuttle, this being the Bus of the Future, 3890. In the second picture the unusual door arrangements can be seen.
Both Gavin and I felt that our time in Aylesbury had been fruitful and the weather was certainly kind to us, I did need my hat to protect my bald pate as seen in the picture below.
After some discussion we both acknowledged that we were somewhat tired and ready for our homeward journey. Earlier we had discussed the merits of using the Arriva 280 to Thame followed by Line 40 to Stokenchurch or the Arriva Line 300 to High Wycombe and then the Line 40 to Stokenchurch. We had both agreed that the new Citaros were a draw on line 300 and so decided upon the 1537 to High Wycombe which was on that day operated by 3919. Neither of us had been on this route before and were interested to see which was it went.
The service runs via Stoke Mandeville Hospital where we pass sister 3921 heading for Aylesbury.
The service runs via Stoke Mandeville Hospital and then via Risboro Road towards Butlers Cross. Here it turns right towards Ellesborough and the main road into Princes Risborough.
After turning into Church Hill from Ellesborough and the main road into Princes Risborough, we pass 3920 on an Aylesbury bound working.
Custom on this section was good, especially since the schools were off and a goodly number of customers alighted and boarded in the centre of Risboro'. Spot on time we were on way once again heading towards High Wycombe but shortly after leaving the outskirts of Risboro' we turned off the main road and headed towards Loosley Row and Walters Ash. The roads in this section are very narrow and it was a good job we did not meet an Aylesbury bound bus as we would have significant difficulties to pass.
A goodly number of customers alighted and boarded in the centre of Risboro'.
The roads in this section are very narrow and it was a good job we did not meet an Aylesbury bound bus as we would have significant difficulties to pass.
I seem to remember there was some delay in introducing the Citaros as there were difficulties at points on the route. I must say the driver and bus performed well and there was no sense of difficulties apart from the narrow roads. Approaching Naphill we pass the Royal Air Force station at Walters Ash, its gates graced by two static aircraft which includes a very nice Spitfire. There are married quarters for service personnel along this section of the route which doubtless bring custom to the service.
The Royal Air Force station at Walters Ash, its gates graced by two static aircraft which includes a very nice Spitfire.
We were now heading along Main road towards Coombe Lane and the drop to the Hughenden Valley, where Hughenden Manor once home of the Victorian statesman Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria's trusted prime minister. This took us through Naphill and glimpses of the wooded slopes of the upcoming valley. We still had a respectable load on board and all too soon we were running down White Hill into Hughenden Road and the centre of High Wycombe. The local services take a deviation from the main road, actually maintaining the old main road to enter Frogmoor under the arches carrying the Chiltern Line from London to Banbury. On our right, as we come out from under the bridges, is the site of the original bus station in High Wycombe, now mostly covered by the dual carriageway taking traffic away from the old road in Frogmoor, also once a major bus terminus. We turn right out of Frogmoor and after setting down some passengers, enter the roundabout under the shadow of the new Eden Centre and at last turn into the Eden Bus Station, the terminus of this service. We are a few minutes early and a quick walk down the stands takes us to our connecting Line 40 service towards Thame via Stokenchurch our ultimate destination.
We enter Frogmoor under the arches carrying the Chiltern Line from London to Banbury.
The Solo, 2497, is well loaded on this 1635 departure and we ease our way out of the bus station, into heavy traffic and await our turn on to the A40 towards Oxford. Our progress along the West Wycombe road is steady and we can now see the church atop the hill in West Wycombe, its golden ball glinting in the late afternoon sunshine. We drop a few people along the road and enter the old village of West Wycombe which must have changed little in the last 100 years. Here most of the houses are owned by the Dashwood family, famous for the Hell Fire caves located under the hill to our right. We leave West Wycombe and the six cylinders of our Solo's engine speed us westwards along the A40 and our homes in the village on the hill.
The Solo sets me down near the end of my road and a pleasant day out.
It has been a very nice day, lots to see and do, good drivers and clean buses, an excellent lunch and only one minor skirmish with an irritable Arriva driver to make comment on. I hope the article shows people how interesting even a local bus journey can be and I look forward to readers accounts of their days out.
Malcolm Crowe with Gavin Francis - 25th June 2009.
Note:: Readers comments on this type of article are invited.