Spottings & Jottings
Issue nr. 34 - September 28th 2010
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002
If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will
advise of any mid-week news please let me know
A great deal has been happening during the past few weeks and contributions for the OCBP having been flooding in. Whilst I have, of course, covered our local operators there have also been several items of interest which I am including in this issue and I hope readers will find this enlightening.
I was fascinated by the reports on the occasional opening of the village of Imber on Salisbury Plain by the MOD.
Showbus is upon us once again and the next issue will contain a report and pictures of the annual event.
Contributions have been really good once again and I hope everyone will enjoy this latest issue.
Additionally here's a web site to blow your mind!! Its not buses but maybe I should set up my video camera on the M40?
Showbus 2010 at Duxford - September 26th
Well, what can I say. What a day! After a reasonably dry morning, the rain started and it rained and rained. so many people looked like drowned rats as the saying goes. By 4pm many of us decided to call it a day and started for home. What a change from last year.
Gavin Francis braved the rains and returned with a good stock of pictures some of which are shown below.
We are seen preparing to set off from Oxford at a max speed of 43 mph and then arriving at the show.
On our way we passed this RTW which was slower than we were.
A rainbow of colours from the Stagecoach entries.
OCBP area vehicles.
Some of the interesting entries at this year's show.
Buses like this were common place in Lisbon when I worked for TAP Portuguese Airlines in the mid '60s.
The shape of things to come.
Pictures above from Gavin Francis.
Now a couple that I took.
To my mind this picture says it all. It was still early in the day but the clouds are looming. M Crowe.
I was delighted to meet John Marsh, a regular contributor to these pages, who has also sent some "alternative" pictures for readers to enjoy.
Aylesbury Bus Station update
Colin Richardson writes to advise"From 20th September further bus bays alterations took place, with route 7 to Buckingham Park now departing from Great Western Street due to capacity issues.
Amersham Running Day
Don't forget this Sunday, October 3rd, is Amersham. I will be unable to attend and so hope some readers will cover the event for me?
Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society
John Hammond writes that The Folly Bridge Inn is the location for the remaining meetings of 2010 and the dates are confirmed as:
Bus Enthusiasts Society
The Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society was formed in June 2010 and aims to provide an informal
monthly social meeting in Oxford for those with an interest in buses. Meetings are normally held
on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and normally take the form of a picture show with local and guest
speakers. A small charge is made to cover the cost of hiring the function room and this is usually
around £1 per person per meeting depending on numbers.
Next meeting: 19th October 2010.
19.00 - 21.30pm
Meetings are held at:
Upstairs Function Room
The Folly Bridge Inn
38 Abingdon Road
A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following look and we hope more of you will attend future meetings.
Finally and as always, my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.
Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - September 28th 2010.
A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Somebus drivers do object to their pictures being taken, even though the photographer is taking the bus and not the driver.
Readers varied contributions
Mike Bennett writes on issues past
An item on your Bus Page a while ago mentioned that Stagecoach Oxford Trident 18398 was seen in Banbury in August. The attached photos show why the bus was in the town, at least on Saturday August 14th, when I photographed it on the service connecting Banbury bus station with the Fairport Convention music festival, near the village of Cropredy, just a few miles north. The timetable showed an hourly service, which could be covered by one bus. It left the bus station at 14:00 with only a few people aboard.
Whilst in St Giles on Tuesday 7th I saw several buses from a surprising new fleet of half-cab double-deckers. They are probably second hand from various fleets from around the country, but they were all very well presented with nice smart liveries. I managed to photograph at least two Routemasters, and two AEC Regents, with a couple of American Ford bonneted single deck buses, but there were others. I was there again on Thursday and Saturday, but none of them appeared again. They were all moving at the time so I was unable to get any chassis or body numbers. If anyone can throw any further light on these sightings I would be most obliged.
Every year the traffic in St Giles comes to a halt when one of the oldest street fairs in the country arrives in town. This takes place on the Monday and Tuesday following the first Saturday in September. This year it was on the 6th and 7th, but the street is also closed on the Sunday for setting up. All of the bus services that use St Giles are diverted from Banbury Rd and Woodstock Rd via Parks Rd into Broad St. Those that would normally turn at Magdalen Church make a U-turn in Broad St, ready to start their next journey north. Others due to go along George St go straight through. Two or more inspectors are present to sort out any possible problems, but everything was running fairly smoothly whilst I was there watching on the Tuesday. I took many photos during the hour I was there - a selection of these is attached. It made a nice change to have a very different backdrop to the buses I would normally photograph in St Giles.
From Glenn Knight who visited Manchester
Seen in Piccadilly
S209 JUA 4019 with Arriva Manchester ex-Arriva London DLA9
Stagecoach Hybrids at Hyde Road Depot:
Fire Damaged: MX55 KPZ 18373
Preserved: AFM 106G Bristol CRG owned by Classic Coaches, Runcorn.
From Nick Eustace on the local scene
Nick Eustace writes "I have attached a collection of pictures from around Oxford & Bicester as well as the A34, you will also note the damaged Oxford Tube heading away from the VOSA station in Bicester showing how well it stood up to the roll over recently. An interesting spot was OU10GFZ which was parked in the yard of a company in Bicester." (This is the location of Bicester outstation. Ed.)
Gavin on Footy in Wycombe
Went to football today on this coach from Cape Coaches. You will remember a few weeks ago it was dark blue and looked a bit weary. It's had a repaint and branding added and now looks fine. Has a very clean interior and for a coach of its age has very few rattles.
The Macclesfield team coach was supplied by Anthony's. Any driver who puts a scratch on this will not be very popular with the paint shop!
London, Stokenchurch & Binders Yard Interlude by Gavin Francis
Pictures all from Gavin Francis.
And so on to fleet news with individual company happenings.
Chris Farmer writes "The Harlowride site has a picture of the latest service to get branding in Harlow. Blue route 2.
I am over that way next in a couple of weeks, so will try and get pics then
Just a few photos from Keith Valla in Harlow. They show the newly branded Network Harlow Route 2,
Added to these are some indys, with a couple of shots of the ever changing Road Runner fleet, along with a single shot of a Regal Busways single decker.
James Allum writes "3235 on 4 & 5 today (16/09/10)"
Andrew Morgan writes ".....pictures taken today (08/09/10) in Welwyn Garden City bus station of VOLVO B7RLE WRIGHT ECLIPSE 2 DEMONSTRATOR (BG59 FWP) on loan to Arriva for trial on routes 300/301 said to be due to unreliability of the ENVIRO 300s. Its temporary fleet no. on the ticket I got, is shown it as 15.
It was a nice bus to go on and I will be keeping an eye out to see if Arriva try any other demonstrators on the 300/301. I am hopping they may try out a Mercedes-Benz Citaro and Scania OMNILINK as I prefer this type of bus to travel on
Uno already have them and to me they are the best two full size buses on the market (I further think the Citaro is the best out of the two aforementioned).
Pictures taken today (22/09/10) in Stevenage . one picture is of COZYS ex-FIRST HAMPSHIRE OPTARE SOLO X733 FPO.
Ex-STEPHENSON'S OF ESSEX 449 (P749 HND) now with CENTREBUS it is still carrying its Stephenson's fleet number.
However Centrebus already have a 449 (MERCEDES-BENZ PLAXTON BEAVER 2 YN54 WCZ at its Hinckley depot) so not sure of if it has or will be renumbered."
Martin Isles writes "Can't imagine that's Arriva's excuse for the casual use of Rainbow route branded buses. I came home from Marlow yesterday on the 800 on an orange Versa, a blue line Scania is a regular on the 800 and was seen yesterday and today. A 33 Dart would have done the 1645 from Wycombe to Reading this evening had the ticket machine not failed and an Olympian was substituted. That at least avoided a standing load, though presumably the Olympian could have been used in preference to the red Dart. Maybe the red Dart could have been used on the 33 instead of the London red Dart. At least the Olympian was in the new unbranded Arriva livery, even if eventually running 15 minutes late after all the faffing around in the bus station. Again had the driver turned up to load the bus more than one minute before the scheduled departure time.....
At least the Olympian wasn't route branded for Watford (picture of bus 5148 in Reading back in June). It's an 800 regular."
Adam Green writes "4362-4368 were on 500 going to Watford yesterday"
Paul also adds "May interest a few readers, but caught Arriva coach 4363 below operating the ex 0732 Aylesbury line 500 on 7th September in Tring. Believe it was previously in EasyBus livery at Luton, but it has been turned out from Aylesbury with the usual high standard of this garage - newly silvered wheels and a full dot matrix blind. How come the condition of Aylesbury's and Wycombe's buses seem to be like chalk and cheese?"
Today (27th September) Gavin Francis was surprised to see one of these yellow coaches on the 280. Hope they didn't have any elderly people or wheel chairs to carry!!
A few more pictures taken by various people of Arriva buses in our area.
This Dart transferred from South is now on the 321 on a regular basis.
What has happened to the Citaros? Gavin Francis.
Much to my surprise MKs 3003 turned up at Cressex depot in Wycombe recently, I suppose for overhaul or work? M Crowe.
In the last issue it was mentioned that VDL 3702 was back from repair following the fatal accident many months ago which wrecked the front of this bus.
It is seen in Wycombe bus station last week with somewhat less branding than when new! M Crowe.
At least two Enviro 400s have been transferred from Hemel to Aylesbury, they are 5452 and 5453, originally on the 6 but latterly on the 320. They have been branded for the 280.
Speaking of Aylesbury, at weekends when rail replacement is in full swing requiring deckers the 280 sees Citaros.
Richard Sharman sent these pictures of 300 branded 3924 working the 280 in Oxford on September 20th. 3923 was also on the same route that day.
The Volvo Ailsa ex London V2 from black Prince is now in the Carousel yard as seen in the picture above. M Crowe.
A general view of the yard at Wycombe showing the variety of buses operated by Carousel. M Crowe.
Glenn Knight writes "Seen in Toddington around 14:00 on Tue 21-09 ex- Lothian Olympian OFS 677Y on service 77 Hitchin - Toddington (Tue Only) Service."
Glenn Knight © 2010
Graham Low writes"Here is Heyfordian PJ02 PZX on the 116, turning from Between Towns Road into Henley Avenue today - 10.9.10.. I have only seen a double decker on this route once before."
Mike Bennett writes "another item recently on your page showed Heyfordian Dennis MPD - SL52 CPX on route 81 from Bicester to Banbury. I rode on this bus on this service on August 14th, as seen in the photos attached. Soon after leaving Bicester we came upon an obstruction in the village of Bucknell in the form of a badly parked car (the one on the right). It looks as though there is room to get through, but there was not; we were delayed for about ten minutes while a neighbour found the offending owner to move the car. We eventually got going, and made our way on towards Banbury - a very pleasant journey going through lots of small villages with several detours to get to the village centres."
Various photos are to hand for this operator or its contractors. More of the Levantes ex Oxford and other group operators within Stagecoach now that these coaches are transferred to East Kent mainly based at Dover.
59206 from Chesterfield and 59212 and 59214 from Oxford all work the 007 from Victoria. Pictures by Gavin Francis.
59207 also from Chesterfield is now based at Thanet for the 022 service and is seen in VCS. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Some problems with Gloucester's 59305 resulted in its visiting Oxford's Horspath depot for attention on September 20th.
This is the first time that one of the tri-axles has been seen at the depot. Picture by Gavin Francis.
The A40, just off junction 5 of the M40 played host to a poorly Levante tri-axles from Gloucester the other week, when 59302 failed on the 444 service on its way to London.
Some hours later it was recovered to Gloucester on a low loader. Pictures by Gavin Francis.
Stagecoach in Cambridgeshire runs the 484 Walton-on-the-Naze service and has recently received a batch of Plaxton Elites which appear on this service.
It is seen loading for departure in VCS on September 16th. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Stagecoach Chesterfield has the last five of the present batch of Elites and these can be seen far and wide.
The one above is seen in VCS on a 560 working to Barnsley on September 21st. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Stagecoach Yorkshire Elite in Swindon bus station on the morning of September 18th on service 335 to Halifax at 09-50 hrs.
It is 53714, YN60ACJ. Picture by Tim Hall.
Sometimes Gloucester Green gets very full, as happened on the occasion above when an incoming 737 service used a Tube bay to unload. M Crowe.
I wonder what will happen regarding the coaches used by SC on this service?
Stephen Le Bras writes
Stephen adds "...my Saturday trip to London was rather different as I headed for High Wycombe on First X74- a blue Citaro - and then a red Carousel A40 back to Heathrow. More red buses took me to Victoria coach station. Bad timing left me missing getting a good photo of either Stagecoach Elites (53712 and 53716) on the 560,564. In the case of 53716, I was on board a number 11 to Victoria and returned on foot just too late to catch it before it departed for its long time rest elsewhere."
Adam Green sent this picture of one of the coaches transferred to MK Metro from Leicester and which are now included in the AtS fleet.
4072 is on a 707 working and seen in Hemel recently. I think the large numbers were to aid recognition for drivers on the M1??
On A Mission
A correspondent writes with the latest news on this company.
Update on On a Mission Coaches.
Visited the yard last week (Thursday) and all the coaches had indeed gone. The 4 ex Lothian Olympians (P417/21/3/7 KSX), the ex Cedar Bus Olympian F440 AKB and Metrobus B898 UAS had also departed. In addition, of the runners prior to the collapse in August, I couldn't see any of the ex Deckerbus Metrobuses B153 WUL, A707 THV, BYX 274V, C365 BUV or KYV 635X (although A707 THV seems to have been the only active one in the preceding 6 weeks or so). Ex Go Ahead Metrobus A647 BCN and Ex Stagecoach Olympians C635/44 LFT were, I believe, removed just after the company ceased trading - all were being/had been cannibalised, so assume scrapped. However, some 6 weeks after the Company ceased trading, all remaining 'runners' appeared still to be there, as can be seen from the attached photos.
The 3 ex Hams Titans (CUL162V, WYV 64T and NHM 564X), the other ex
Magicbus Olympian F300 DRJ, ex London Metrobus GYE 534W,
an unidentified Olympian (possibly LWS 33Y) and what appears to be an ex Stagecoach Dart all parked adjacent to the main entrance.
Another view looking through the fencing at ex Reading Titan 72, with Metrobus GYE 534W in the foreground.
Ben Stoves writes "I have attached is a picture of 5160 T810CBW repainted white this will be the spare bus. Seen operating away from the Blaydon Racers on the 10 to Hexham. I have also attached one of 5160 operating Blaydon Racers service 49. I will attach one of an existing spare Volvo B10BLE 4922 X922WRG this shows how smart the ex Oxford motors really are. The yellow ones are still to receive there branding. There are talks of more coming up at the end of the month. Not sure what ones as of yet."
Mike Bennett writes "Another query on your last Bus Page - "where is OBC Park & Ride 113 ?" Well, 113 has been painted in the BrookesBus blue livery and I was able to photograph it in the OBC depot on Saturday 11th, during a tour on the open day. Number 111 was also at the depot, also in blue."
Thursday 23rd saw a slight contretemps between a Brookes Scania and a taxi in Park End Street, resulting in my following red 224 out of Oxford on my way to London. The Scania had been hurriedly substituted on the U1 service to Wheatley. Maybe because of a shortage of Brookes buses the following evening 227 was working the U5!!
Gavin Francis saw this Brookes Bus, 116, on the 400, a most unusual working I believe.
He also notes that 110 has received a new super rear.
Scania 217 looks very good in the afternoon sunshine when pictured by Gavin Francis recently.
The company has made some changes to services for the new Semester including a new variation on the U5, the U5X. Full details can be found on this page of the company web site.
There is also the opportunity to buy a model of the Brookes Bus Scania at the following link.
The company has a recent arrival in the shape of ex Stagecoach Devon Dart 32444 (N744XDV) with Plaxton Pointer BC39F bodywork. It has air conditioning with a large pod on the roof.
The bus, when only four years old , was acquired for service in UK in 1999 from Hong Kong Citybus where it was registered GM5868.
It is still in full SC livery with boards in the front window for route 275.
It was passing through Stokenchurch around 09.55 heading for Oxford on the morning of September 15th.
One might imagine that confusion could be caused in Oxford where people are very used to SC livery!!!!
Ken Baker writes from the south west "One in Exeter and one when in N. Devon"
Ray Ramsey writes "here at Rugby all the air conditioning is switched off as the mpg is horrendous if it is left on and lets face it how often would it actually be used in earnest? I am not even sure that it will actually work even if switched on in reality."
Rob McCaffery writes "Here’s a couple Malcolm, both on the 85 in The Strand in Torquay and in the two Stagecoach standard liveries. If they’re good enough please feel free to use them in your next edition."
The first photo was taken in 2000 and the second in April 2006.
Martin Isles reports "A mobile phone picture of Red Rose's Hong Kong Dart at Marlow this afternoon on school contract 906 to Maidenhead, which often works on and off the 275. Behind is a Motts Tiger on Red Rose contract 941 to Wycombe. The morning run on the 941 is usually worked by the Irish Olympian (T309ORP) but Motts are doing the afternoon run this term whilst the Olympian is used on a new (ex On A Mission) contract in MK.
The Dart is unlikely to be seen on the 275 again following a complaint from Stagecoach - though I suspect there may be the odd occasion when it's the Dart or nothing."
My thanks to the various correspondents who contributed information and pictures regarding this bus. Indeed it has not reappeared on the 275 and last Sunday, when passing the Red rose yard near Thame, there was no sign of this bus.
We also saw ex London General LDP46, R446LGH in all blue livery in the yard.
This Scania has recently been refurbished and is seen in Gloucester after completion.
The R H contribution to Showbus this year was this well turned out Olympian ex East Yorkshire.
ADL had an open day recently and a Manchester Hybrid was in attendance, 12042. Picture by Dave Rogers.
The bridge over the Thames near Eynsham was closed recently and so a shuttle was run for S1 passengers requiring service to points
on the Oxford side of the river. The Shuttle bus is seen above at 0030 on September 16th with an NS1 service alongside. M Crowe.
A picture taken from the front passenger seat of an Oxford tube of buses in St Aldates on September 9th. M Crowe.
The Enviro 300s in Oxford now appear on the 3 and Wantage routes giving passengers much improved comfort. Gavin Francis.
The recent visit of The Pope to London resulted in additional capacity being required on the Oxford tube service to London.
Above is 15610 in London and its place being taken on September 18th by 18398 on an S2 service.
I was operating a line service to London on the evening of September 18th and was able to record five extra coaches and buses waiting for returning crowds to Oxford.
They are seen waiting in Buckingham Palace Road which was almost deserted as many road closures in the area seemed to keep traffic away. M Crowe.
In recent weeks the Oxford tube stop at Buckingham Palace Road has been closed due crane work at that point at weekends.
Services have therefore terminated at Vauxhall Bridge Road making their way round to pick up by the X90 stop on BPR instead.
One of the coaches, 50217 is seen above in VBR on September 25th. Gavin Francis.
Gavin Francis has come up with the goods again having taken several pictures of one of the Skyliner coaches now in service with Omega. It is seen in Oxford on September 16th fully branded.
Ex 50105 seen in Park End Street.
For info Ex-tube listed for sale - http://www.usedcoachsales.co.uk/picture.ihtml?pic=picture 430&coach=768
I received a picture of this coach from Nick Eustace. It is ex SC 50056, T56BBW.
Other Stagecoach news.
Fanofmetro writes from Yorkshire regarding the ex Oxford M A N/ALX300s that "Reported here now are,
However, only four are in service. I understand more have left Oxford, but not sure on further fleet additions."
Marcus Lapthorn writes "M A N/Enviro 300 availability continues to be poor for the 66 route and on Friday 17 Sept double decker 18192 was on the route along with at least one Dart."
Steve Gee writes "A quick look at the Stagecoach website shows a couple of new services from Leamington Spa, the first, numbered 65 to Daventry, and the second numbered 66 to Banbury. Both run via Southam, and cover villages already served by services 63 & 64 which runs between Leamington & Rugby, The new services started on 6th Sept.
So far these new services seem to be in the hands of the ex Stagecoach London LCY class Dennis Dart Alexander saloons 33351- 33356 which I think have been transferred across from Rugby.
Also seen last week on the 63 was one of Leamington's Countylink liveried 09 plate Optare saloons, covering I think for one of Rugby's Enviro 300's which normally work the route. I'm not sure of the model type for these critters, they're numbered in the 252xx range, help would be appreciated, thanks. (They're normally found on town route 66/67)
Finally, noted new Scania E400 15678,KX 10 KTJ shown as stored in your last S&J, in service on the X15 in Leamington, whilst Volvo 16209, R34 TAC was seen on a Bedford bound local service later in the day. I think it's an ex Oxford bus isn't it?, but now Bedford based.
Hope this is of interest, will try to obtain pictures of the Banbury/ Daventry services time permitting & am happy to forward them if you like. Have some pictures from Leamington about a week back too."
Seems the new Hybrid double deck is imminent. It is an Enviro 400H by ADL. Yet another ENVIRO to join its brothers in Oxford which must have one of the largest ENVIRO fleets for a city of its size?
A recent addition to the fleet is this little coach from Tellings Golden Miller. It was seen on the X88 in Oxford on September 27th by Gavin Francis.
Surprised not see any Woottens vehicles at this year's Showbus!
Stagecoach has achieved the highest number of shortlisted nominations at the UK Bus Awards for the fourth consecutive year.
After winning more awards than any other bus operator at the previous three ceremonies, the Perth-based transport group has 15 shortlisted entries in the competition's 21 categories this year, with three Stagecoach companies in line to be named Britain's best bus operator at the November awards ceremony.
Stagecoach East is shortlisted for the Shire Operator of the Year award while Stagecoach Manchester and Stagecoach Yorkshire are finalists in the City Operator of the Year category. All three companies are also in the running for the prestigious UK Bus Operator of the Year award.
In addition, three Stagecoach services – Stagecoach East's popular Route X5, Stagecoach Oxfordshire's Oxford Tube service and Stagecoach East Scotland's Fife Express – have been shortlisted for the Express Operation of the Year award.
In the Best Bus in the Countryside category, Stagecoach North West is nominated for its Lake District operations and Stagecoach South West is shortlisted for its Go 2 service which is operated in partnership with Devon County Council.
Stagecoach Manchester Engineering Director Darren Roe is in the running for the Engineering Manager of the Year award while Stagecoach South West Operations Manager Mark Whitelocks and Stagecoach West Engineering Manager Mike Butt are both shortlisted for the Young Manager of the Year award.
In the Winning New Customers category, Stagecoach Manchester is shortlisted for Unirider. Also in this category, Kent County Council is nominated for its partnership with Stagecoach East Kent and Hastings in the provision of bus services in Ashford.
Stagecoach East Kent and Hastings is also a finalist in the Marketing Campaign of the Year category for its Breeze service between Thanet and Canterbury while Stagecoach Merseyside's Paypass project – the UK's first use of contactless bankcard payments on buses – is shortlisted for the Innovation award.
Stagecoach Manchester's Hyde Road depot has also been shortlisted in the Bus Garage of the Year category.
Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, Les Warneford said: "To have so many of our companies and our people nominated for these awards is testament to the hard work and commitment of our staff across the UK to providing high-quality, good value, reliable bus services for our customers.
"We are continuing to invest in state-of-the-art vehicles as well as embracing new technology and new ideas to ensure we can attract even more people on to our greener, smarter bus services."
John Owen, Chairman of UK Bus Awards said: "We've been absolutely delighted with both the quantity and quality of entries for the 2010 UK Bus Awards. We are now seeing the results of many years of commitment to innovation by the bus industry, and competition for awards has never been greater."
The 15th annual UK Bus Awards will be held on 16 November at the Hilton Hotel, London.
The full list of shortlisted Stagecoach entries are:
Stagecoach has won a clutch of awards within the past year. At last year's UK Bus Awards, the company led the way, winning three awards and claiming two runners-up spots. Stagecoach Group was also named Best Green Transport Provider at the 2009 Scottish Green Awards and most recently, Stagecoach Manchester was announced as Public Transport (Bus) Operator of the Year at the 2010 National Transport Awards.
Moir Lockhead to leave First
After 21 years as its Chief Executive, Sir Moir Lockhead, 65, is standing down from his post on 1 November and retires on 31 March 2011.
The FirstGroup Board will implement its succession plan, with Tim O'Toole succeeding Sir Moir Lockhead as Chief Executive from 1 November 2010.
Mr O’Toole joined the Board in May 2009 as a Non-Executive Director and was appointed Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive three months ago.
He was most recently Managing Director of London Underground.
Commenting, Sir Moir Lockhead said: “I firmly believe that timing is everything and with FirstGroup in a strong position to continue its successful development the time is right for me to hand over to an outstanding team led by Tim O'Toole.”
TfL confirms LEZ deferral
With two weeks to go before minibuses under 5T GVW with more than eight passenger seats were due to be brought into the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ), Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) have announced that operators will have another 15 months before having to comply.
Although the deferral was expected it was not a foregone conclusion, especially given heavy pressure from the UK government, which is anxious to avoid EU fines.
Postponing this phase of the LEZ, which mainly affects ‘white van man’, was a key election pledge by the Mayor. However, he was forced to carry out a statutory public consultation; this closed on 4 July.
In recent weeks, Transport for London (TfL), responsible for implementing the LEZ, has faced criticism from operators, anxious for confirmation that the start date would be amended.
The news – which affects operators of around 70,000 minibuses and larger vans –means that they will now have to meet Euro 3 on particulates from 3 January 2012, the same day that the LEZ standards for larger vehicles changes to Euro 4 on particulates.
Megabus accident in the US
John Hodgkins, Island Transport Solutions, Aylesbury, UK and Gabriola Island, BC writes "After the lucky outcome of the recent Oxford Tube accident on the M40, this incident in the US reinforces how quickly things can turn very bad."
People smuggled into UK via Victoria coach station
Drugs, weapons and people are being smuggled into Britain by crime gangs using Victoria Coach Station, police revealed recently. Random checks on coaches arriving in London have revealed an extraordinary hotbed of crime ranging from people trafficking to drug running.
A Scotland Yard operation has led to 72 arrests — including wanted people-traffickers and paedophiles — in the past six months. The checks have also revealed a worrying number of defects and safety problems on coaches arriving from the Continent.
Police in Westminster are using tactics normally employed by border officials to screen passengers arriving in London. Coaches are picked at random and their passengers and luggage are searched and screened for drugs and weapons. Sniffer dogs are also used to check for contraband and specialist officers employed to scour coaches for hidden caches of drugs.
Police have arrested people who had earlier been denied entry at Heathrow Airport but had then re-entered Britain by coach.
The initiative, codenamed Operation Sharvor, has uncovered a vast array of crime since being launched in March. This includes:
A haul of £25,000 worth of cigarettes hidden in tables sent from Lithuania.
A man with two bags of £60,000 worth of coins and cash who had travelled by coach to London after flying in to Frankfurt from the Philippines.
One coach with four wanted people traffickers, all of whom were travelling separately.
Inspector John Fleming, leading the operation, said: “It was launched after concerns by the Mayor's Safer Transport Scheme about the scale of low-level crime and disorder in the area.
“We have been surprised at what we have found and have uncovered virtually every type of criminality including organised crime networks using coaches to traffic people.”
Speaking at the Superintendents' Association annual conference in Cheshire he said there was also evidence of sex offenders using coaches to enter and leave the UK to avoid airport checks.
Illegal meat goods were also being smuggled into Britain and criminals were using coaches to commit benefit fraud. He also revealed that 87 per cent of foreign coaches were found to have safety defects, as opposed to two per cent of British coaches.
Superintendent Joe Royle said: “We have been trying to establish what level of criminality there is around Victoria Coach Station. Some of the results are worrying. There is evidence of people using coaches to bypass border checks to get into the UK.”
Police said the majority of the 72 arrests were for drugs. So far officers have searched 11 coaches arriving in Victoria from Europe. The coach station is one of the country's biggest transport hubs with 12 million passengers a year.
Police have also found that coaches are being used as a cheap parcel delivery service with packages being sent on coaches unaccompanied and then collected. Police said usually none of these packages were checked.
Cambridge Guided BuswayMarcus Lapthorn writes "According to the latest 'Rail' magazine, some 80% of the Cambridge Guided Busway route is complete but there are problems in the Trumpington area and with a new bridge over the London main line near Addenbrooke's Hospital. Contractor BAM Nuttall has already paid £6m in damages for late delivery, with a further £14,000 a day due until it finishes the job."
Stagecoach Manchester Hybrid Launch by Chris Lowe
The Official Launch of Stagecoach Manchester's Enviro 400 Hybrids took place on Friday10th September on Princess Street next to Manchester Town Hall. Unfortunately it was a dull and at times very wet day as can be seen in the following set of 12 images taken at the launch.
Two vehicles were present with 12042 (MX60 BVJ) being used to collect Stagecoach Manchester's management before proceeding to the Town Hall. It was exchanged whilst there for 12039 (MX60 BVF) which was used to take the management as well as leader of Greater Manchester PTE and other local dignitaries for a demonstration drive around Manchester City Council.
I was unable to go along on the drive around the Town Centre as I was due to be at work about an hour or so later, so I took the couple of shots of it going in the rain, before I proceeded to make my way to work to sign on. Whilst at work on Friday and Saturday I noted Hybrids 12027-40/2 all at PS ready for the start on Sunday.
Over the remainder of Friday and Saturday the buses were receiving their final checks and preparations for them to enter service today (12th September) on Services 42 (Manchester - East Didsbury/Stockport) and 43 (Manchester - Manchester Airport), these services share a common section of route between Manchester City Centre and Withington Village along Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road which will see a bus every five minutes on a combined frequency between those points, from Withington a bus will proceed every 10 mins on service 43 to Manchester Airport via Northenden and Wythenshawe, whilst service 42 will proceed every 10 minutes as far as East Didsbury (Parrs Wood), with every other bus continuing to Stockport Bus Station providing a bus every 20 mins along that section of the route.
All 30 of the Manchester Enviro Hybrids are allocated to Manchester's Princess Road Garage and to facilitate this, service 42 was moved from Hyde Road Garage to operation by Princess Road garage on September 5th. Whilst to balance workings out, Services 15 (Manchester - Flixton, via Moss Side, Streford and Urmston) and Service 256 (Manchester - Flixton, via Old Trafford, Stretford and Davyhulme) both moved to operation by Hyde Road Garage from the same date.
I am hoping to possibly get a couple of photos of them in service today, although not sure whether I will get the chance too. My first chance to drive them "might" be tomorrow when I drive the 43 to the Airport, but with only half of them here at the moment and 27 possible vehicle workings this might still have a standard Enviro on it. Although I am on 42/43's about three or four times this week so shouldn't take too long.
Blackpool gets a new Bonny coach facility
Geoff Cunliffe writes "A new Blackpool Coach facility has emerged in the town. It is located at the north (town centre) end of the Central Car Park, on part of the site occupied by Blackpool Central station until Dr. Beeching decided otherwise. It has six loading bays (2 x 3 bays) in a drive-through pattern with a welcome toilet block at the end. This is operated (as are many around here) by Danfo which demonstrates that spending a penny will cost you somewhat more! (Trade Descriptions Act?)
Blackpool Tower in the background is undergoing extensive repairs hence the scaffolding gallery around it, and the white building with many windows and a square tower at its left hand end is the iconic former Woolworth's building, a landmark on the Promenade for many a year.
I could find no signage within this new facility and, indeed, Talbot Road Bus Station still carries a somewhat tatty National Express sign - which is rather in keeping with the somewhat tatty building which is set to be redeveloped as the new Talbot Gateway, incorporating Blackpool North Station just across the road and which should be linked to the Promenade Tramway system by the reinstatement of the tram line up Talbot Road from Talbot Square removed before WWII. However, the whole Talbot Gateway project is currently on hold pending a spending review."
Trips and events
Torquay by Mike Penn
I too was in Torquay last weekend for the rally/running day. I won't duplicate the photos you have already published but you might be interested in these ones which weren't connected with the rally.
GJZ 9571 (ex BFS 14L), which of course spent many years in Oxford, is now employed on a sightseeing route in the Paignton area
and is painted in the former Devon General open top livery.
MSJ 499 (ex 925 GTA) also appeared on the sightseeing route and has recently been repainted into the same livery,
which of course it carried when new in 1961.
Former Bournemouth Corporation Leyland PD3 8159 EL also worked at least one journey on the same route.
This Barnaby bodied Leyland Tiger PS1 (AHL 694) was new to Bullocks and later worked for West Riding.
It is currently employed on a special service from Torquay to Agatha Christie's former home, Greenway House, on the banks of the River Dart.
It is seen leaving the Brixham park and ride site.
This Northern Counties bodied Daimler Fleetline (JTD 395P) was new to Southend Transport and later worked for Crosville Wales in Llandudno and Rhyl.
It is currently employed on a tour in Torquay.
Geoff Cunliffe visited Oxford again
Herewith a short report about our visit to Oxford last week:-
Margaret and I visited Oxford last week on Monday 6th September. We arrived at Pear Tree to find an unusually long queue of intending passengers. After a few minutes, Citaro 829 came in. It looked unusually tatty for a COMS bus, with half removed vinyls, and I wondered if it had been pressed into service as a Q-Buster. Unfortunately it was insufficient to bust that queue and it departed leaving several of us to await Plaxton President 903 a few minutes later.
Our visit coincided with the annual St. Giles Fair so our inbound journey took the usual diversion from Woodstock Road via St. Margaret's Road to Banbury Road then Parks Road to Broad Street before regaining the usual route at George Street. Besides the main area of the fair, both parts of Magdalen Street were obstructed.
The Broad Street diversion affected all routes approaching the city from that side which gave the opportunity for some unusual photographs as Broad Street is not normally used for service buses. The first photograph shows a couple of Stagecoach vehicles, an S1 and an S5 near to Boswell's shop.
Shown in the main body of Broad Street are a couple of local Stagecoach Gold ALX400s sandwiching an outbound X5 en route to Cambridge.
Positioning myself at Carfax, I realised that by 12.30, the 300 was still running far from correctly as another Plaxton President and a Trident came out of Queen Street together, followed a couple of minutes later by another Trident.
Although the Presidents are badged as Plaxtons, were they not constructed by Northern Counties at Wigan?
At the other end of Queen Street, I saw the first of the Plaxton Elite-bodied Volvos, 53701 OU10 GYH, heading into the city, presumably to commence its journey to Stansted.
Eventually the rains came and we made our way back to Pear Tree on 903 which had brought us in earlier. Our outward link between Banbury Road and Woodstock Road was Canterbury Road, the trees providing plenty of work for the deflector fitted on the front corner of the top deck. Coming into the city, we rode downstairs; we rode on the top deck going out and were somewhat surprised at the large number of rattles, creaks and groans.
Incidentally, although out of our usual area, if anyone is intending to visit the new bus station at Bath, sandwiched between the River Avon and Dorchester Street, one of the best views of the business side is from the end of the elevated car park alongside the adjacent Bath Spa railway station.
The approach to this vantage point also gives the chance to take nicely framed shots of the junction of Manvers Street and Dorchester Street, outside the main entrance to the railway station, where I found orange Volvo bendy on the University run linking it to the city centre.
Another interesting trip south!
Glasgow visit by Gez from Lancaster.
Thought you may like a few shots from Glasgow. in connection with the recent Papal visit to the U.K.
We left from Morecambe at around 0830 with Scanias 18379 and 18381, both double manning. We had an 11am pickup at Our Lady and St Josephs church in Carlisle, called at Willowholme to top the tanks up to be on the safe side, as it turned out we didn't need to having half a tank left in when we got back. We met up with one of the Lillyhall Scanias at the church and got away around 1120. A call at Hamilton services for a while as we were told we would be "stacking" before being allowed onto the northbound M77, which was closed junction 2 to 1 for parking and we didn't know how long people would be sitting A pile of Stuarts of Carluke went by on Shuttles as well as several Go Northern ex Nat Ex coaches
I expected being held up as we passed Blochairn - a stack or Irvine's of Law deckers went by and another fleet of deckers in a orangey / creamy colour the defied indent though - but we sailed straight through to the M77 coming off at Junction 2 down Barrhead Rd, there were already many coaches parked on the Motorway. Anyhow we arrived at stacking around 1420 and edged up back towards the every ten minutes or so as they were feeding coaches down around ten at a time. Then around 2.45 there was a long wait. It appeared they had run out of room on the Motorway. we eventually got going again, my bus got through, but anything behind did not, which included the other two buses from the church we picked up at. We were the last onto the Motorway at 1515 , number 301. The driver of the other bus rang to say they were moving onto Dumbreck Rd to park along with around twenty other coaches / buses. This turned out to be a good move for them as their load of pilgrims only had around 1/ mile to walk. The poor souls on our bus had 2 miles. It took me a good while to get to the other end.
Local wise they were running two bus stations one across the road from Ibrox where the Fitzcharles are with the other on Dumbreck Rd where the Caledonian Travel is shown. I had a wander along here and down Haggs Rd as buses were stacking before being called on the stances. There were whole fleets here and many more went missed as I had to start making my way back to the bus, against the flow of people, which I only just managed with about 5 minutes to spare before we got the off at 2117. which was a good hour before we were expecting. A steady 55mph run back down to Carlisle to drop off then home for 0200 after a coffee stop at Southwaite.
I was fascinated to hear from two readers about an interesting days outing at a place called Imber. I found the whole concept of this place appealing and hope readers will enjoy the reports and pictures herein.
Imber is an uninhabited village in part of the British Army's training grounds on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. The entire civilian population was evicted in 1943 to provide an exercise area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe during the Second World War. After the war villagers were not allowed to return their homes. The village, which is still classed as an urban entity, remains under the control of the Ministry of Defence despite several attempts by former residents to return. Non-military access is limited to several open days a year.
Further information can be found at these links.
You wait a whole year for a bus – then 5 turn up at the same time by Mike Bennett
A very pleasant Saturday trip to Imber was on my agenda on a recent Saturday.
Of course Imber, the village on Salisbury Plain that was evacuated for training purposes in 1943 for “the duration of WWII”, does not need a regular bus service because no-one lives there. The MoD owns all of the land around the village, and it is in the Danger Area for the Warminster ranges. Consequently access is limited to only a few days each year.
However, Saturday September 18th was one of those days, and the opportunity was taken to run buses from Warminster to Imber, and further east to the A360 at Gore Cross and via Tilshead to The Bustard Inn, up on the Plain near to the Larkhill artillery Danger Area - a total distance of around 25 kilometres.
A comprehensive timetable was in place, and the first bus was away from Warminster Railway Station at 0940. I was able to catch the 1040 departure on Routemaster RMC1510, (510 CLT), and we soon left Warminster for the long drag up Sack Hill.
Once at the top there are marvellous views in all directions, enhanced by the fact that this bus has an open top. The weather was beautifully sunny almost all day so the ride was really very pleasant.
Bob Eade, the main organiser behind the Warminster Bus Running Days, was issuing tickets with the maximum fare being £5 for a Day Rover, and £4 for the return ticket to the Bustard Inn.
We dropped down into a valley and within 15 minutes of leaving Warminster we entered Imber. There are several modern buildings, just shells with roofs, erected by the MoD in the 1970s for urban combat training, plus a few of the original buildings.
The main point of interest to those who were not bus enthusiasts was the church, which is slightly up a hill from the main road. The bus stopped alongside a car parking area and some of us alighted to take photos, with others going up to the church. The bells were ringing, as indeed they were when we came back later in the day.
Within minutes another Routemaster, RML2344, (CUV 344C), came into Imber from the east, swiftly followed by RML2735, (SMK 735F). More photos of course!
Our bus left after 10 minutes, climbing over the next hill and joining the A360 before dropping down into the village of Tilshead, where we stopped outside the Rose and Crown to await the Service 2 bus from Salisbury to Devizes – a Wilts & Dorset Solo. One person got off this bus and joined the tour. Within 5 minutes RM613, (WLT 613), drew up alongside us but going in the other direction.
We left Tilshead at 1151 and headed east up another long hill. Staying at around the same height, within another 15 minutes we reached The Bustard Inn, our destination.
After our ten minute photo stop we all climbed aboard RMC1510 to start the journey back to Warminster. However, with some people having been at The Bustard from the earlier bus, and our bus being full when we arrived, we had more than enough passengers for the return run. Another bus that was not scheduled in the timetable was summoned to arrive in about 30 minutes. I volunteered to wait for the later bus, along with several others, and we enjoyed a very welcome drink at the Bustard Inn.
We were waiting for the bus to arrive along the road from the west when we heard the familiar sound of a Routemaster coming from the wrong direction, and RML2344 arrived from the south. Apparently it had taken a wrong turning. Everyone soon piled onto the bus and we started on the way back to Imber, which we reached in 25 minutes, with more magnificent views across the Plain.
Here we had a pleasant 30 minute break, during which time the other three buses I had seen earlier were present – and then RM1005, (5 CLT), arrived, hitherto not seen by me, so there were 5 Routemasters parked in the village, hence the title of this article. Obviously a lot more photos were taken, in order to prove that last statement.
I then took the opportunity to wander up towards the church. Quite a number of people were enjoying the autumn sunshine in the field below it and listening to the bells being rung.
The time to leave came all too quickly, and we reboarded RMC1510 for the 20 minute run back to Warminster Railway Station. Descending Sack Hill into the town was taken quite slowly as it is very steep, with superb views over to the west.
We reached the station at 1355, and within ten minutes there were four of the Routemasters in that cramped space.
I waited in Station Road to photograph them as they left on their next journeys towards Imber, before driving over to Salisbury for a lovely visit with friends.
Many thanks are due to the organisers for the professional way in which this event was run. Most of the buses ran fairly full, with the open topper taking the maximum load much of the time. I certainly had a very good day, and I look forward to the next time.
Imber by Andrew Webb
Somewhat out of the OCBP area, but 18 September saw the second operation of
route 23A linking Warminster, the village of Imber and The Bustard. 5
Routemasters operated: RMC1510, RM613, RM1005, RML2344 and RML2735, although
RM1005 appeared to be having some difficulties and didn't do as much as the
Imber is a village on the Salisbury Plain that was commandeered by the MOD for training in 1943 and has yet to be returned. 18 September was the first day in 2010 it had been open to the public. The Bustard is a remote pub on the Salisbury Plain between Tilshead and Shrewton.
I have attached some pictures.
The Tilshead picture shows RMC1510 working 10:40 Warminster - The Bustard and RM613 working 11:13 The Bustard - Warminster both preparing to depart after Wilts and Dorset Solo 2707 has passed working 10:55 2 Salisbury - Devizes. The timetable for the 23A allows up to 10 minutes delay in Tilshead to await the arrival of the service 2.
Oxford Bus Museum helps open doors at Oxford Bus
Mike Bennett writes " On Saturday September 11th the Oxford Bus Museum put 3 of its old COMS double deck buses on the road for journeys around Oxford city. One route followed closely that of the open-top tour buses, leaving the railway station, picking up along High St, down to The Plain, returning up the High to turn into Longwall St and Parks Rd South. Emerging into Banbury Rd the route was north to St Margaret's Rd before heading for the railway station again down Woodstock Rd, St Giles and Beaumont St. I rode on the newly restored AEC Renown 371, which after completing this journey, ran on the next service to the OBC depot on Garsington Rd. A walking tour of the depot followed a ride through the bus wash in Citaro 870, surely the cleanest bus in the fleet by the end of the day. AEC Regent 956 had arrived with the next load of passengers and this bus was to be our ride back into the city. Lowbridge Regent 166 was the third bus and took its turn on the services."
Buses in the Landscape
John Marsh writes saying is this the ultimate "Bus in the Landscape"
A First Leeds (I guess) Wright Gemini taken from a Jet2.com Boeing coming in to land at Leeds-Bradford Airport.
John adds "I wonder if any of your readers can identify the exact location?"