Editorial & Features
published Sunday 9th November 2008
Monday 3rd November 2008
(next update week ending 16th November 2008)
Now ten years old
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THE show in Birmingham, Euro Bus Expo 2008 - at the NEC - report of vehicles from our area on show
Your Editor went to the show on the third day, Thursday and very much enjoyed what was on offer in this year's show. A nice surprise were TWO coaches for Green Line, one of which was a bonus as it had not been intended to display this particular vehicle.
First to report is the Van Hool Acron for Green Line which certainly was a very fine coach indeed. Finish on this coach was superb and the only surprise was the display on the destination, why CHALFONT?
The spec on this coach was to the highest order and seating is provided for 63 or 59 + 1 wheelchair. Of course, in view of the shortish journey no washroom facilities are provided.
I understand that ten will delivered before the end of the year and a further three in the early days of 2009.
A surprise was this further Citaro fo0r the 724 which is to receive some timetable enhancements.
I was told that all of the present Citaros for the Arriva 300 and 321 were now in delivery and should be in service before the end of November.
Another Arriva owned bus at the show was this VDL/Wrights Pulsar destined for service with Arriva in the North West.
The new Plaxton coach announced some weeks ago was revealed at the show, where several examples were on display, as the Elite. The name was a closely guarded secret until 08:30 on the opening morning.
The coach is a very smart development for a UK coach builder and seems sure to have a growing following for those companies which wish to have a vehicle with the "wow" factor. Initially built on the Volvo B12BT chassis it is expected to be available on M A N or Irisbus chassis in the not too distant future. You can read so much more about this coach at a special web site :- http://www.plaxtonelite.co.uk/elite.html
I wonder who the first operator will be?
Another local operator to have a new vehicle on show was Cliff's coaches of high Wycombe. Their new mini coach conversion was by Tawe Coachbuilders and they also had a Limo conversion on display as well. You can see more of their products on their we site :- http://www.tawecoachbuilders.com/
Well Guys, I'm game, where are the girls?
On the M A N Neoplan stand there was the 1000th M A N for Stagecoach, a brand new Enviro 300 bodied M A N 18-240 which was destined to serve the inhabitants of Chesterfield for the foreseeable future.
These M A N /ADL Enviro 300s are becoming very much the norm for new deliveries within the SC group.
It was interesting to see a new single deck for Lothian which had a most interesting interior light installation, which was complimented by a floor covering which looked distinctly Stagecoachish.
Optare had a most interesting display which included a redesigned Solo and their latest offering, the long awaited double deck design, the Rapta. Not sure about the name Rapta, seemingly rather close to the Raptor which was I thought a pre historic reptile with a not very nice reputation. The bus was in early form and judging by the darkened windows had not interior as such.
First sight of new contender to the double deck market.
You can read all about this bus and other products at the company web site :- Optare.com
Comments suggest that some people don't like this redesign but personally I liked it.
Another interesting was a Scania Concept city bus which puts the wheels at the four corners.
This was an interesting concept and I wonder what the future holds for such designs?
A nice innovation was the appearance of a number of older buses including this one from Wolverhampton. It is a Daimler Roadliner and I remember these in service when I lived in the Midlands.
However the "Pièce de résistance" had to be the display of buses owned and restored by Mike Sutcliffe who was on hand to answer questions.
These were the ultimate in restoration projects and we owe a debt of gratitude to Mike for preserving much of the early days of the bus industry.
Well, I hope the foregoing gives a flavour of this year's show. It was packed with interest and seemed to have more vehicles than ever before.
It was nice to meet many acquaintances and colleagues from the industry and I enjoyed my day very much indeed.
TfL pilots live CCTV
Delivering one of Mayor Boris Johnson’s manifesto commitments, Transport for London (TfL) has started a six-month £31,500 trial of an innovative new CCTV system, developed by 21st Century, that enables it to view live images from buses.
Linked with TfL’s radio system, which instantly connects every London bus driver to TfL’s central bus control room (CentreComm) staffed by TfL and the police, LIVEview streams images directly into CentreComm.
All 21 double-deckers in the trial, operated by Arriva on one undisclosed North London route, are fitted with digital CCTV and a built-in internet server. LIVEview works alongside the existing digital CCTV system, which records digital footage from up to 12 on-board cameras inside and outside the vehicle.
Bedfordshire with John Hammond
John wrote to me following a visit he made to the Bedfordshire area. He says "I am sending you a selection of pictures taken over the weekend in my home region of Bedfordshire reflecting the many changes and operators in existence."
MX54KXN - Optare Solo which originated in Sheffield but is now with Cedar Coaches of Bedford seen here in Bedford.
It is operating one of Cedar's network routes in the North East of Bedfordshire that they have operated since the mid 1980s.
YN08NLE - Plaxton Primo with Grant Palmer of Dunstable. Route branded for Leighton Buzzard town service.
It is seen in Bedford working on 44 route, which replaced services withdrawn by Stagecoach East.
N813DNE - Volvo B10M 20813. Stagecoach East never had any B10M's delivered new, preferring regular intakes of double 'deckers.
Network changes have since introduced these B10M's to routes.
I regularly drove this example when it was based at Stagecoach in Warwickshire's Rugby depot.
(This bus was new to SC Manchester and operated for a number of years out of Princess Road depot. Ed.)
H654VVV - One of many the Stagecoach standard Leyland Olympians with Alexander R type bodywork delivered to Stagecoach United Counties.
This one was originally UC654. Many of these buses managed nearly 20 years front line service but have since been withdrawn and disposed of.
654 is working a Bedford town service, helpfully showing "Bedford" as the end destination.
YJ05JXV - MK Metro come to Bedford on two contracted services filling gaps left by Stagecoach route withdrawals. Route 24 runs between Bedford and Milton Keynes via Bromham and Newport Pagnell.
N375AGS - Grant Palmer use this ex Arriva The Shires Mercedes on services into Bedford.
YJ05WDD - Chiltern Travel ran the "East Beds Dart" network until 2007 when many of the services were cut back and made into more conventional services. The buses still carry East Beds Dart livery however.
This bus has come into Bedford from the Cambridgeshire village of Gamlingay, although it fails to show a destination or route number. The contract for these services is due to change in November
YJ56AOS - Stagecoach operate some town services in Bedford using Solo's funded by Beds County Council to replace step entrance 709D minibuses.
These are marketed as "BlueSolos" and feature an attractive variation to the current Stagecoach livery.
MX53FEG - Centrebus stepped in to fill the gap left when Stagecoach pulled the Mars branded service between Biggleswade and Hitchin.
This Solo is seen in Henlow on route for Biggleswade.
FJ56YBW - Centrebus run all services to the Bedfordshire village of Meppershall, seen here on Herts CC funded service 89 to Hitchin is this Plaxton Centro.
J125DUV - Centrebus also run the Beds CC funded service 79 to Luton from Meppershall, run in this case by ex London Dennis Dart J125DUV
YN08NLE - Seen again at the terminus of the 44 route at Clophill is the Primo of Grant Palmer.
V398SVV - Service 200 runs across Mid Bedfordshire and was originally operated by Stagecoach from Biggleswade outstation.
The contract was lost by Stagecoach during the major service withdrawals of February 2007
and given to Grant Palmer who regularly run it with a Mercedes Vario shown here at Clophill Green.
YJ05WDC - Another former East Beds Dart Solo of Chiltern Travel seen splashing through the ford in the picturesque village of Sutton near Biggleswade.
Again users are left clueless to its route or destination which in this case was an E1 to Sandy.
This is a most pleasing article, for which I thank John Hammond. Maybe other readers will be inspired to write of their area in our region and take some photographs?
More on MacBraynes
Following a readers request Pete has sent the following "I meant to add that Malcolm (and others) can log onto www.roycraig.net/macbraynes to find out about the MacBraynes Circle Preservation Group. Another site worth a visit is the Western Isles Preservation Group; they can be found at www.WITPG.org.uk
Congratulations on your exceptionally thorough site...it brings back many happy memories of years spent in and around Oxford."
Gary Seamarks and others add some comments on Stagecoach and Virgin Trains VT99 and other matters
From Gary Seamarks
RUMOUR HAS IT NEW COACHES FOR VT99 AND X5,delivered in November for February but Virgin Trains have a new timetable launch in Dec so may be...................
and some other corrections to issue 275.
Volvo 53274 has now appeared in Stagecoach livery on the VT99, seen at Luton Airport, Saturday 8th November and there are indeed to be new coaches for the X5, probably in February. Ed.
16675 at Bedford went to swoops in June 2002, now nothing at Bedford/Biggleswade in old livery.
N334HGK is not at Bedford but actually at Ely, the yellow containers give the site away (as they do in real life).
The Alder Valley Olympian is this Eccleston Bridge Victoria heading towards the old stops on the bridge.
From John Lincoln
Browsing the latest news page I can qualify exactly where Mr Percy took the photograph in 1977. It is on the approach to Eccleston Bridge, London Victoria. The building behind was the repository of Bishops Move, an old established removals and storage organisation.
May I congratulate you on a splendid site, updated each time with many topical features. Well done!
Some OCBP 10th birthday congrats.
From Geoff Cunliffe
My hearty congratulations on celebrating a double anniversary for your web page. To my eternal shame, I never saw it coming and consequently did not send my good wishes in advance.
Thank you also for mentioning me as a valued contributor. I feel somewhat humbled to be mentioned in the same paragraph as so many people who do really make significant, regular and substantial contributions.
May the Page go from strength to strength, and many thanks for all of your efforts.
From Julian Walker
I just wanted to say congratulations for the OCBP reaching five years old! I found it about a year ago and have enjoyed it ever since.
I have no problem with the frequency of updates; once a fortnight is fine and it does have to fit round your other commitments. I too maintain a website (not transport-related) and it simply isn't possible- - or realistic - to update it every week.
Now, I have some "Buses in the Landscape" photos that I would like to send in. They are approx. 600kb. Is it Ok to send them as attachments - say four per e-mail - or do you need them reduced first? I have about a dozen I would like to send in.
Congratulations on reaching the anniversary !! A BIG THANKS for all YOUR HARD WORK .
From Andrew Harvey-Adams
The pages are well received and a pleasure to read.
THANKS and WELL DONE
From John Marsh
Congratulations on the 5th and 10th Birthdays of "the Page" and many thanks for the mention.
To celebrate here are a few more pictures from London.
Best Wishes for the next 10 years.
From Phil Gates
I always enjoy the 'bus page', and look forward to every new issue, it must be a lot of work for you.
From another Malcolm (Malcolm Parsons).
Malcolm here, although you don't know me.
Congratulations on the Page's 10th Birthday.
I've been an avid reader for 2 or 3 years my interest is in the Uxbridge area and you must be congratulated on a fine effort (and for putting in the time involved).
Having retired and with a little (!) more time myself, I wondered if the attached pictures may be of interest, especially if you are short of material now the running day season is nearly over and I don't think you have featured this one.. Five of the pictures were taken at the Amberley Working Museum bus rally in mid-September (the museum is probably better known by its old name of Amberley Chalk Pits Museum). No doubt many of your readers will know that this museum, in West Sussex, features two rebuilt Southdown bus garages and a fine fleet of early Southdown vehicles.
I gather that nowadays a slightly more modern (1960s) vehicle is used on everyday tours of the museum but on the rally day most of the old fleet was in use including and of course of local interest to the Chiltern area a Thames Valley Thorneycroft, fleet number 152, dating from 1927 although I gather the body a replica built by the museum's resident boat builder. Of note is the picture taken at a road junction the museum does have a road system where the vehicles (and passengers) can have a reasonable trip.
What a wonderfully nostalgic picture.
The final picture (if you'll allow it on a Bus Page) was taken in mid October during the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway's diesel gala. Apart from the location the other factors which may make the picture suitable is that these single-car units (known as Class 121 and used on Western Region branches, indeed one survives on Chiltern Railways' Aylesbury to Princes Risborough link) were built in the early 1960s with AEC engines which were brothers rather than distant cousins of many bus engines. I'm afraid I don't know what engine it has now. The final bit of local-ish interest is that the vehicles themselves were built by Pressed Steel Company, although I gather these were built at their plant in Scotland rather than at Oxford or Swindon.
Hope you like the pictures even if you can't use them? Best wishes for the future of the Page, Yours, Malcolm Parsons.
Views on Oxford’s transport plans by Stephen Le Bras
Sad to see that Oxford wants to rid its streets of buses. I have not read the report in detail but it does seem that the council is overlooking the fact that people need to be able to reach the shops and offices where they shop/work.
The concept of super buses carrying 100 people is not practical. Keep car numbers down by all means but if there a lot of buses it means that the city is popular.. Get rid of them and people will go elsewhere where the council is not so brutal.
Here in Windsor, we are still awaiting our first Park and Ride after years of negotiations. We don't have enough car parks but the council does not plan to ban buses or cars.
Thank you for another informative issue of your web page.
Am I just old and cynical or is this another instance where Town Planners are being called upon to plan a town! That will be as disastrous as getting an architect to design a house for you - and I speak as someone who had two cousins who were both architects!
It is hard for me to comment in detail about the proposals because I do not know Oxford well enough, but I can certainly comment in principle:
The further you move bus stops from the centre of town, which means Queen Street and its immediate vicinity, the more inconvenient it is to travellers which may well adversely affect visitor numbers. For example, the northbound 300 is far less convenient than when it ran down Cornmarket Street. Where, for instance, are stops in Queen Street to be moved to for the summer of 2009?
The concept of interchanges and Super Buses carrying four times the number of passengers that a normal bus does, fills one with dread. Perhaps they will weld three ex. Hong Kong Dennis Dragons together! I wonder what their turning circler would be. Perhaps they envisage buses without seats because it will only be a short journey - oh dear, another planning error!!! Of course if you want to be really trendy, you could run trams from St. Clements to Carfax with a split then serving St. Aldates and Cornmarket Street.
Your point about delivery vehicles around the High Street is very valid. From my periodic observations, the High Street is congested by, amongst others, white van man, who will stop wherever he wants to with no regard for the inconvenience he causes to others; by “lost” motorists who are clearly totally befuddled as to where to go; and car drivers who feel the restrictions apply to others but not them. Where is the enforcement of the existing regulations? An Enforcement Officer stood at Carfax would earn his week’s salary quite easily. Are there loading restrictions on the High Street? There certainly should be - with appropriate enforcement.
Over-dramatic solutions are not necessarily required. Smoothly running buses, unimpeded by other illegal traffic and parking, need not be banished to the suburbs.
New service for Dunstable
Glenn Knight writes to advise that "....from February 2009 a new service will commence in Dunstable service DB3 from Dunstable to Langdale Road back to Dunstable. Service DB2 will still operate just between Dunstable and Downside only. This has be confirmed my South Bedfordshire District council and Arriva. There will be route and time alterations on DB2."
Gavin Francis caught up with this
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