Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 20 - 16th February 2010

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002

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A pleasant long weekend gives me the opportunity to prepare this issue which has a large number of interesting items. The weather continues cold and somewhat miserable and many people are by now feeling very fed up. Oh for the warmer days of spring which still seem a long way off.

Last week we mentioned that a large number (14) of the ex dot2dot mini buses had arrived for store in Hemel Hempstead at a site near the M1. My correspondent Ian Brown now advises that there are around FIFTY of these vehicles stored at the location in Maylands!

This gave a further thought. Thinking about Google Earth and what one can currently see on this site, just imagine the future when one can view this in real time and thus check out what is where. One imagines that quality can only improve and, even allowing for the weather, someone making a web page in the future could have access to some incredible information.

We haven't had any Buses in the Landscape contributions recently but I am pleased that Richard Sharman has sent a rather nice picture taken in Oxford.

One of the Levantes used on 737 is caught crossing the Oxford Canal as the coach heads up Park End Street on February 6th.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

An interesting sighting on the A40

As I was coming out of Oxford with my wife recently we came across a low loader carrying a Bristol LS looking somewhat the worse for wear. I wonder where it was going?

XHW426 is a long way from Shepton Mallet! Picture by
Elizabeth Crowe.


Chris Farmer (Banbury) writes "Saw this on the BBC website and thought it might be a newsworthy item for your next excellent page."

A GWR Thornycroft is made ready to take to the road again

Terry Partridge writes "Work continues on Colin Billington’s Guy FBB. This was new to the Great Western Railway in 1927 with a Vickers B32R body as their 1268. It retained that number when in 1929 it was transferred to the Western National Omnibus Co. Ltd.

2010 marks the 175th anniversary of the creation of the Great Western Railway. A series of special events will take place across the region to celebrate this milestone in railway history.

1268 is expected to make her debut at Didcot. She will then be coming west to join in the 2010 KVBRD."

More at:

I hope some readers may be on hand at Didcot to see the bus, I will certainly try to attend. 

Picture by Terry Partridge.

Football and Rugby supporters coaches.

Two pictures are shown below with a local interest.

Harris provided transport for some of the Wycombe fans at the Brentford game a few weeks ago.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Last Sunday Wasps game at Adams Park attracted a lot of supports many of whom came by a fleet of Epsom Coaches Setra tri-axles.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

As always my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - 16th February 2010.


James Allum writes about a few items from Hemel Hempstead.

10/02/10 -  3836 has been repainted into Arriva's Inter urban livery but still retains its original destination blind.

He suggests that there is a shortage of buses in Hemel at the moment as 4523 (normally on the 52) was spotted on route 4 and 5 today (10/02/10)

11/02/10 3173 was noted on route 52 to High Wycombe Bus Station, this is the 2nd day in a row that 3173 was on this route.

12/02/10 5149 was working the routes 4 and 5 in Hemel.

Does anyone know why there is a shortage of buses based at Hemel on weekdays? We are all aware that on Saturdays and Sundays many deckers are required for Rail Replacement services and therefore we see unusual workings such as Citaros on the 280 and coaches on the 500.

Andrew Morgan reports that on 5th February he saw coach 4067 on the A1 near Stevenage heading to London and in service on 797 carrying full route branding like the rest .

Pete Cabin reports that on Saturday, February 13th the dreaded red paint lines (denoting sold buses) was observed at Arriva's High Wycombe depot with Volvo B6 buses L315HPP, L922LJO, M234TBV, and M728OMJ having all been treated to the dreaded red lines.

The remaining Volvo B6's have not yet been given the same treatment but on the double decker side 291UMJ and H202GRO are the only two older buses in use. Olympian G129YEV is parked up at Cressex and there is no sign of G130YEV or G131YWC. The Park & Ride bus involved in the recent fatal accident (3702) is next door to Arriva's garage parked in a recovery companies depot.

On Monday 15th February Pete reports that an unusual bus was allocated to the 33 Castlefield & Totteridge being 3204 R204RBM. Sister Scania 3162 N712EUR, route branded for blue route 32, was back on the road today and was working the 37s to Bourne End and 74s to Slough.

Finally Pete reports that Scania 3152 N702EUR was working service 300 to Aylesbury at 14.15pm. This bus has allover  branding for the Gazette.   

As if to highlight some of these events and also for further unusual workings we have an excellent selection of pictures from a number of readers shown below. 

Another view of the Dart once in the Oxford bus fleet and then transferred to Wycombe Bus and acquired by Arriva, now in Harlow but said to be on loan to Ware.
It is seen above working route 396 from Hertford on February 12th by Andrew Morgan.

These two Tridents, 5429 and 5442, are in service at Hertford and show the now regular Interurban livery as seen on the right hand one of the two.
Picture by Andrew Morgan.

Typifying the recent weather patterns Gavin Francis caught up with the Dart MPD, 3226, on Line 40 from Thame to High Wycombe on Tuesday 9th February.
It is seen picking up at The Kings Arms stop in Stokenchurch.

Another picture from the camera of Gavin Francis who whilst working a 737 to Stansted found this ex Yorkshire Dart, 3435,
working the 510 from Harlow via Bishops Stortford. The date Monday 15th February.

Gavin Francis has provided us with a "history" of Volvo B10BLE 3850 which is a recent transfer to the High Wycombe fleet.
New to Harrogate & District as 370 in June 1998 it moved to Sovereign in Hertfordshire shortly before the takeover by Arriva
then spending the next part of its working life on the 300/301 Centraline service between Stevenage and Hemel.
In the first two pictures above it is seen in July 2005 and then August 2006 on Centraline duties.
With the arrival of new buses for that service it and some of its sister buses transferred into Wycombe where it is now on local services.
It is seen on service 32 last week on Thursday 11th February.

Another very recent transfer to Wycombe is Volvo 3454, new in 2000 and originally based at Hitchin,
where it and sister buses worked the 100/101 services to Luton Airport.
It is seen in a picture by Gavin Francis working "blue route" 32 to Micklefield on February 11th 2009.

In the last issue we mentioned that one of last year's delivery of Van Hool tri-axles from the 757 Luton Airport-London Victoria service
had been repainted into full easyBus livery. This was coach 4376 and Gavin Francis caught up with this coach in London on Thursday 11th February.
I think it rather unusual for such a new coach to gain another livery!

Terry Wong Min provided these three pictures of Green Line coaches on local services in Watford on 6th February.
This happens when double deckers are taken for rail replacement services.

Once familiar to the 757 route but replaced by the new tri-axles, 4067 now works out of Stevenage on the 797 to Victoria.
It is seen entering Stevenage Bus Station on its way to London. Picture by Andrew Morgan.

New to High Wycombe Volvo 3861 is seen in The Eden Bus Station on Wednesday, 10th February working its planned service 31, the green route.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Arriva High Wycombe provide Park & Ride services for Rugby matches at Adams Park which is London Wasps home ground.
Last Sunday Olympian 5141 was used on this service. Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Mark Turner sent in some interesting pictures taken in Hemel and Watford on February 6th.
He also records the use of a coach on a Saturday on service 500 with the other on its more regular 758 working.

A new contributor to these pages is Sean Weston who took some nice pictures in Milton Keynes on 23rd January.
The use of elderly Scanias on route 70 is noteworthy.

With the news under Jottings of the demise of the Metrobus in the West Midlands it is all the more interesting to note the acquisition of these type of buses by Carousel. Obviously there is good life left in these older buses.

The latest new buses for Carousel are the M A N/Evolutions which seem to be mainly used on the A40. They have yet to gain branding
which will doubtless look very smart indeed. Picture by Graham Anderson.

Carousel works head to head with Arriva in high Wycombe and has gained a very respectable fleet in recent years.
The acquisition of buses able to be used in the London LEZ, for example on rail replacement services,
 has seen late model Volvo B7TLs with East Lancs Vyking bodies such as EVL26 now with Carousel.
The bus in the pictures was once based at Sutton depot and worked the 93.
Picture taken on February 10th by Malcolm Crowe.

Centrebus are a strongly emerging player in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire area and whilst acquiring second hand buses are now getting new buses. Following the takeover of the Trustline service 700 which runs from Stansted Airport to Little Hadham, Puckeridge, Letchworth, Hitchin and Stevenage, the company has introduced new buses on this route as seen in the pictures from Gavin Francis below.

One of two brand new Scania
K230UB/ Wright Solar's 749 (YR59NNT) and 750 (YR59NNU) - 750 seen above - unusually working the 700.
This was caused by the fact that one of the regular Dart low floors had a bad accident a Stansted and a low floor bus was required
for the 700 so a Scania was substituted. There are two more of these buses due which work the C3 from Harlow to Waltham Cross.
Pictures by
Gavin Francis.

This is a former Scania demonstrator. It is a very early K series and was formerly with Coach Services at Thetford.
Now working with Centrebus it is seen on service 700 on 19th January 2009 by Gavin Francis.

For those interested in Trustline and recent events following the takeover by Centrebus you may like to follow this link:

CENTREBUS ex-Newport Transport Scanias 710 (ex-NEWPORT 70, L170 EKG) and 754 (ex-NEWPORT 4, TI 4051 ex-K104YTX)
seen in Welwyn Garden City Bus Station on 9th February by Andrew Morgan.
The newer livery on nr 754 looks much improved over that on 710.


Excel, loosely related to Arriva has acquired a number of ex Arriva buses for use at Stansted and some of these are seen in pictured captured by Gavin Francis below.

The Olympian above, once Arriva The Shires 5089, was based at Luton for many years and I believe once worked the X15 from Milton Keynes to Reading?
The Scania saloon came from Arriva Midlands, new to Fox County based at Derby and latterly Midlands at Coalville.
Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Tellings Golden Miller is within the Arriva camp and provides coaches for the Excel operation at Stansted.
Above are two coaches in use on Airport by Coach services to Stansted Airport.
Pictures by Gavin Francis taken on 6th February.

Originally purchased for work in North East Manchester this Volvo has recently been transferred to Colchester
and is seen on a 33 service at Stansted Airport on February 6th. Picture by Gavin Francis.

The recent acquisition of a Citaro caused much interest and two pictures of this bus are shown above.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

The tendered services gained by Heyfordian have resulted in a significant number of new Solos.
seen above is YJ59NNO normally used on the 25 group of services.

The second picture shows a very recent arrival, as yet unbranded, YJ59NMX. Note the new Solo badge on the rear panel.
Pictures by Richard Sharman.

Some weeks ago I ran a piece on the new 09 plate coach to be used in the latest Channel four show "Coach Trip". Yesterday afternoon the first episode was screened showing the new coach MT09MTT. I must say it looked sparkling and new.

We have mentioned the arrival of some second hand coaches with this operator and a week ago one was used on a Wycombe away fixture at Brentford.
As yet CT07MTT has not gained fleet livery. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Stephen Le Bras reports that route 203 is a new service from London Heathrow to Southampton and Portsmouth. This is seemingly the reason for the four extra 59-reg Levantes - two at Bournemouth 328,329 and the two at Lucketts X4965/66.

He says "As I came through the LHR central bus station this morning, I noted the Lucketts coach on the 203 to Portsmouth and so I picked up the timetable as I ran to catch the 105 to Southall. (Sat 13/2/10). 

At VCS, Bournemouth 328 left at 2pm on the 032 as 329 arrived but missed passing each other by seconds!"

Gavin has provided a number of pictures of the recently transferred Kings Ferry coaches now in use with NEx at Crawley.
Here one is seen from the rear, unusual in the fact that it has a rear window not seen on any other Van Hool coaches in NEx service.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Veolia seem to have on going problems with the provision of rostered Levante coaches on the 767 service from Nottingham to Stansted.
On 15th February they provided this once NEx coach for the 767 service and it is seen at Stansted. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Andrew Morgan
also caught two
Sunsundegui Sideral coaches on the 767 and shown passing through Hertford on 12th February.
In the large picture the pigeons on the roof above seem to look down with surprise at two non liveried coaches on this service!

Richard Sharman
took this picture of Bruce coaches Levante tri-axle on the 539 service passing through Oxford, this being the one with the Scottish flag on the rear.

For those of you who are looking for more pictures of National Express coaches, you may be interested in the web site mentioned below which includes one of the tri-axle Scanias (SC29) which once operated out of Stansted and is now with Bruce Coaches. My spologies to those who already know of this web site.


Terry Wong Min writes "I am sure you are wandering how the Oxford Tridents are doing in the West Country?  I caught up with one of them on the 583 in Truro. The route is run by Western Greyhound on weekdays rather than just Saturday. 440 and 441 are branded for the route."

Taken at Victoria Place in Truro on 2nd February. Picture by Terry Wong Min.

For the record I note the following changes in registration for the batch of ex North East buses now in Cornwall with Western Greyhound.

440 WK51CAB ex 904 R4OXF (NK51UCL)
441 WK51CAF ex 905 R5OXF (NK51UCM)
442 WK51CAL ex 906 R6OXF (NK51UCV)
443 WK51CAP ex 907 R7OXF (NK51UCW)

901 and 902 are still with Oxford in a pseudo Park & Ride livery and are normally seen on the 500 to Water Eaton.

908 and 909 are still with Oxford and in red livery. 908 has been seen regularly on the 300 but 909 has not been seen for several days now.

Simon Ingham writes "I am a frequent visitor to this marvellous website as I am very interested in buses in and around Oxford. I always enjoy visiting Oxford from my home in South Wales, not just to visit family, but to visit the buses too! The OCBP website keeps me well informed!

I have also spotted a member of my family on one of the buses, in a picture some years ago...!

On a visit to Merthyr last Friday, this collection of buses greeted me. I think this will be of interest as I can remember travelling on M509VJO in Oxford in my younger days!"

Picture by Simon Ingham.

Whilst taking a Tube into Oxford last Friday afternoon (12th February) I noted one of the ex Brighton Volvos, to be 790 and 791, heading up the eastern by-pass towards Cowley, repainted in Park & ride livery but lacking any branding at all.

Volvo 815 is seen on a 400 working on 12th February indicating the lack of green Tridents for these services.
The photo taken by Gavin Francis.

Citaro 828 is also seen on 400 road on the same day heading towards Thornhill.
Picture taken by Gavin Francis.

Trident 120 is seen turning at Carfax on a U5 working to Marston on 8th February.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

At a minute to ten on Saturday 6th February Citaro 850 heads down Park End Street which is almost deserted.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

On what looks like a cold and chilly day T416AGP loads on a nr 6 at Milton Keynes - the date 23rd January. Picture by Sean Weston.

Red Rose 

Glenn Knight advises that "Latest Vehicle to be added to the Red Rose Fleet is a 1993 Volvo B10M-55 Alexander PS  DP48F K791 DAO Ex-Stagecoach Northwest 20661

Currently being stored at Redline's Gatehouse Way Depot awaiting a new engine. The new engine to be fitted is from accident damaged H534RKG."

R H Buses

A number of nice pictures are to hand of buses in the fleet and showing some the new routes or recent routes.

A fine shot of a once Oxford Tube, nr 47(50047) now 803 with R H Coaches and seen in Hook Norton on 5th February.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Quite a lot of news this month but headed by the details for the next batch of new buses, Stagecoach Gold Enviro 400s. Details of these are given below with my thanks to Robert Williams of Bus Zone fame.

Fleet nr   Registration Date in service Type Seating Depot Comments
15609 - OU10 BHA TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, to receive route S1/S2 branding and enter service 28-03-2010
15610 - OU10 BHD TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15611 - OU10 BHE TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15612 - OU10 BFZ TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15613 - OU10 BGE TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15614 - OU10 BGF TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15615 - OU10 BGK TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15616 - OU10 BGO TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15617 - OU10 BGV TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15618 - OU10 BGX TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15619 - OU10 BGY TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010
15620 - OU10 BGZ TBA Scania N230UD / ADL Enviro 400 H45/28F WY Stagecoach Gold, on order for 03-2010

Next on the agenda is the arrival of a training bus for Ticket Training purposes which is of interest as it is a type not seen before in Oxford. Gavin Francis has kindly provided a picture of this bus when in service in London. Stagecoach in Oxfordshire is introducing new ticket machines in the next two months and these are ERG TP5000 machines and replace the current Wayfarer III machines and magnetic card readers.

Optare 26035 as is and as was - pictures by Malcolm Crowe & through Gavin Francis.

Also of interest is the arrival of Volvo B6/Alexander ALX200 new in March 1997 to Viscount Cambridge (Stagecoach) as their 320. It is from the Oxfordshire reserve fleet based at Banbury and is for use on the 12 and 16 routes where greater capacity is needed. Gavin Francis has provided pictures of this bus whilst in service at Banbury and now. It went into service on Monday 15th February on route 12.

31320 when in use at Banbury and on its arrival at Oxford for use route 12 or 16. - picture by Gavin Francis.

Chris Maxfield notes "Just spotted this comment with the photo of 22052 on the 14 at the JR. - "Very often the 14 has larger buses on and 22052 is seen at the JR on a City bound service" 

The booked buses for the 14 are 22052/3/4. The contract specifies buses no older than 53 reg and as all the 53 plate Darts are now at Banbury these "larger" buses are the norm not the unexpected. Older buses do appear from time to time, I passed 22937 on the 14 on Monday."

Gez from Lancaster writes to note that the first Stagecoach Gold Scania/Enviro 400 for Witney has been built at ADL Falkirk OU10BAJ no fleet number, a further three are in build this week. However as we now have the registration details, shown above, I think there maybe some mistake by ADL. 

Witney Tridents debranded from S1 livery – 18132, 18133, 18136, 18137 and 18397. 18135 is presently being debranded.

The Witney Tridents are losing their branding prior to their departure when replaced by the new Gold Enviros.
Above we see 18137 now devoid of any branding - pictures by
Gavin Francis.

18136 has also lost its S series branding - picture by Richard Sharman.

Recent weather conditions have not helped with keeping the buses clean as seen with 15537 pictured above by Gavin Francis.

Sometimes SCO branded buses do get way of route and here a Blackbird Leys (Bravo) is on an X30 working on 6th February.
 Picture by
Richard Sharman.

A change in the way destinations are shown on SC buses has occurred an the Not in Service is now shown in a static form and no long scrolls.
Picture by
Richard Sharman.

New publicity van for Stagecoach in Oxfordshire in service 150210 – Ford Transit YB59PUX.

Gavin had a trip up to the Midlands recently and on the way back called in at Watford Gap services where he snapped two coaches on Megabus duties.

Here the newest of the rugby allocation of Panthers is seen taking a break at Watford Gap service on February 5th.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Service requirements result in hiring in for some Megabus duties and Tetley's were also seen at Watford Gap services on February 5th.
note the excellent use of labels to indicate Megabus duty. - Picture by Gavin Francis.

Ralph Adams writes "Your report of the failure of the night service to Scotland has given me many questions. 

The normal arrangement is the coach goes with one driver who changes at various places on route. Not sure but I believe it is Watford gap (Rugby), Preston and Glasgow. There is one driver ready at the relevant points. 

When the inbound coach had a problem, 2 coaches came in from Uxbridge, with drivers. These would have then taken the 2 coaches to Watford Gap, but only one driver would be on standby for the next stage. Would that driver take one of the coaches and then the 2 Hamilton drivers take responsibility for the other coach all the way to Glasgow, exchanging seats to keep within time limits. I presume the Glasgow - Aberdeen section would use a spare Stagecoach Glasgow coach. 

This then leads into an easier problem. Sometimes Megabus put on relief coaches which require crew changes. Normal arrangements mean that a driver returns to his home on a different bus as part of the complicated schedules. On this occasion, plans can be made several days in advance, not at 01.00 in the morning for immediate action. However if there is just one extra trip (e.g. Newcastle - London), do they have 2 drivers all the way. The bus obviously needs to also return home with a driver."

Andrew Morgan writesUNO have lost Hertfordshire County Council's 200/201/203/205/206/215/312 series of routes which run different days of week (Mon-Fri) to SULLIVAN BUSES from Monday 29th March.

This will mean that MERCEDES-BENZ PLAXTON BEAVER 2 429 (Y129TBF) which is the bus allocated to these routes may be leaving the fleet at some point before or after. When it has left the entire fleet should then be in pink and purple livery.

There are five pictures of buses used on this routes, all taken in Welwyn Garden City bus station."

Pictures below by Andrew Morgan.


(Now left the fleet) DENNIS DART WRIGHT HANDYBUS 148 (M148VVS) 18/12/08

(Now left the fleet) DENNIS DART PLAXTON POINTER 144 (K434OKH) 15/04/09

OPTARE SOLO 401 (YJ05XNB) 18/08/09


Walters have taken in another bus for use on the X88 service from Oxford to Silverstone.

This one is ex London Central and has limited branding on the rear of the bus. It is seen in Gloucester Green on 12th February.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

I think the Excel may still be in use and this is seen in the picture above on 6th February.
Picture by
Richard Sharman.


Top accolade for Supertram

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Stagecoach Group’s Sheffield Supertram operation has been awarded a top honour to recognise management development and organisational excellence.

The tram company has been awarded the Achievement Marque of Excellence by North of England Excellence which recognises businesses that successfully implement sustainable improvements to their management processes.

To achieve the award, Supertram management successfully demonstrated their commitment to organisational excellence through the development and continued implementation of two management improvements plans.

The accolade is the second that Supertram has received within the past two years from North of England Excellence after picking up the Commitment Marque of Excellence – the precursor to the Achievement Marque – in 2008.

Managing Director of Stagecoach Light Rail, Andy Morris said: "This award recognises the commitment shown by the Supertram management team to ensuring we run our business as efficiently and professionally as possible.

"The North of England Excellence scheme involves a rigorous assessment process and has been extremely beneficial in helping us to review and improve our management procedures."

The North of England Marques of Excellence Scheme was developed to inspire and encourage organisations in the north of England to drive towards excellence through self assessment and the implementation of sustainable improvements.

Dave Rusk, NoEE Education & Training Director said: "Supertram have conducted two rigorous self assessments against the European Excellence Model, using the beta plus method. This involved a series of workshops and, in successive years, the Supertram team identified their strengths, areas for improvement and developed action plans to achieve continuous improvement.

"The action plans were then implemented and cascaded down through all levels of the business, while regular review meetings were held to ensure targets were being achieved. Following a final assessment, we were delighted to accredit Supertram with the Achievement Marque of Excellence."

Later this year Supertram will also submit an entry to the prestigious North of England Excellence Awards.

Stagecoach starts tests of amphibious bus

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Pictures courtesy Stagecoach Group Communications

Transport group Stagecoach today (8 February 2010) started tests of an amphibious bus on the River Clyde in Scotland.

Officials from the Perth-based bus and rail group were on board the state-of-the-art vehicle at Renfrew Ferry for the start of the two-day technical trial.

The company believes there is potential for the UK's first "amfibus" service linking communities on the Clyde.

It would make use of existing slipways at Renfrew and Yoker, which would require to be modified with an extension beyond the sill at end of the ramps to enable the "amfibus" to operate during all tide levels.

The "amfibus" would follow a route by road from Braehead to the Renfrew ferry slipway, crossing the Clyde to Yoker and then travelling on by road to Clydebank.

Based on a Volvo bus chassis, the 12.8metre "amfibus" incorporates a hull to allow the vehicle to float. It is fully safety certified for operation on road and water by European transport regulatory authorities.

On the road, the vehicle operates like a standard coach with an accelerator and brake. In the water, the "amfibus" is driven by twin water jets controlled by a console on the armrest of the driver's chair.

The £700,000 "amfibus" can carry 50 passengers and is built in Holland by Dutch Amphibious Transport Vehicles BV (DATV) of Nijmegen. Fitted with a Euro 5 engine, it can travel at 8 knots in the water and has a maximum road speed of 60mph.

Stagecoach has already carried out tests of the "amfibus" in Rotterdam harbour in the Netherlands where the vehicle coped well from the wash from heavily laden barges and provided a smooth travel experience.

Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: "We are excited by the potential of this technology and we will be investigating how the vehicle performs in water conditions on the Clyde.

"A new 'amfibus' service would be a Scottish and UK first, providing a seamless bus connection between two important local communities. It is a great example of the potential for new transport links using the country's rivers and estuaries."

Plans for an "amfibus" service would be a boost for local people facing the loss of the existing ferry service between Renfrew and Yoker from the end of March.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) announced the decision last month as part of a series of cost saving measures, while the current vessels - the Renfrew Rose and the Yoker Swan - are reaching the end of their working lives.

The "amfibus" on test in the Clyde is due to be used by Rotterdam Splash Tours for excursions around the harbour in the Netherlands from next month.

For those interested in some descriptive pictures of the "amphibus" please refer to the link below:

First lined up for Olympic win

FirstGroup has been announced as preferred bidder for the provision of direct coaches, park-and-ride services and venue shuttle services for spectators to the London 2012 Olympic games.

It follows a competitive tender process by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

First will provide:

  • Around 500 coaches and buses for venue shuttle services and venue park-and-ride;
  • Around 90 buses and coaches for park-and-ride services, aimed to connect parking sites on the periphery of the M25 with the Olympic Park and Ebbsfleet;
  • Around 300 coaches (sub-contracted from fleets up and down the country) to operate a network of express coach services to the Olympic Park and Weymouth and Portland;
  • Management of the Direct Coach operations;  
  • A coach and bus reservations and ticketing system;
  • Operational support staff at all coach and bus locations to manage the fleet.

On the matter of cyclists

Paul who lives around Oxford has written with some more views on cycling in Oxford. He has some comments which are worthy of airing on this page which has recorded varying views on this matter. 

As someone who commutes through Headington daily on my bike, I thought I might take the opportunity to try to answer the question you pose on  your web page:

?? Can our cyclist friends therefore please tell us why, when beautiful new surfaces have been provided, STILL cyclists use the road going to and from Headington near Oxford?

The short answer is safety and convenience.

I assume you're referring to the cycle path between Headley Way and Osler Road (by the Shell Garage), but this applies to most on-pavement cycle paths.

If I use the on-pavement cycle path, I am at risk from vehicles emerging from side roads, who typically do not stop at the give way line short of the cycle lane, but instead stop blocking the cycle lane.  Further, I am required to give way at the pedestrian crossing (where the cycle path stops and continues 100m later) and I am required to give way again when the cycle path rejoins the main road.

Although the pavement has been resurfaced, it rises and falls with every side road and entrance, and is like riding over some of the worst speed bumps you have ever encountered.  Where the path crosses side roads, the lane is reduced to half width because the council didn't drop the kerb properly.

Another risk is posed by pedestrians, who rarely notice the marked cycle path. Next time you drive a long this stretch of road, see if it remains unobstructed for its entire length.  I bet you it won't.

Contrast this with staying on the road and using the lane that is clearly signed and marked as being both a bus and cycle lane.  I may have to stop at the pedestrian crossing, but other than that, I do not have to give way at all, and can cycle in a lane that is flat, and unobstructed by pedestrians, parked cars or turning traffic.

??  With a 20mph speed limit now in force these cyclists now overtake those road users who obey the law.

Very few cyclists will exceed 20mph on the flat.  Most will travel at 10-15mph.

??  Is this also another law which cyclists are not obliged to abide by?

Actually, yes it is.  Speed limits do not apply to cyclists, but that's beside the point.

?? Certainly for a vast majority they do not "see" red traffic lights, ride on pavements when it suits and generally behave as though they own the roads they neither pay for or contribute to.

Please do not tar us all with the same brush.

I stop at red lights.  I do not cycle on pavements.  I pay Vehicle Excise Duty on three vehicles.

Please try to see this from my perspective:

If I cycle on the road (as I am legally allowed to do) I am harassed by motorists who can't understand why I wouldn't use an on-pavement cycle path.

If I cycle on the pavement, it's more dangerous (to both me and pedestrians), it's less comfortable, and it's slower.

What would you do?

Cyclists who don't follow the rules make me angry too, because of the damage that they do to the reputation of all cyclists.

Unfortunately, it's a vicious circle: for as long as the provisions that are made for cyclists remain substandard and in many cases don't follow the rules laid down for road design, it's easy to understand why so many cyclists don't take the rules seriously.

"Speeding" is an offence that applies only to motor vehicles. Cyclists can be done for cycling "furiously", "dangerously" or "carelessly and inconsiderately".  I'd be only too happy to see more cyclists done for the latter two.


I am pleased to publish Paul's views as they reveal something of the views of many cyclists in our city. No doubt there will be those who do not agree with all of what Paul says but it might be worth the authorities looking at the cycle lanes provided which do not seem to offer what cyclists need. Until this is resolved we will have cyclists mixing with buses in Headington which cannot be totally safe.