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The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

Issue 164

Sunday 5th February 2006
next update week ending 17th February 2006

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know

Changes to local fleets feature this week with a fleet list for Carousel and pictures of their new Renault Agoro buses which have just entered service.

Stagecoach announce changes to their South Oxfordshire and Bicester networks and new Tridents are expected any day now.

Oxford Bus have repainted some Tridents back to red again and this has resulted in the appearance of 6xx Volvos on Park & Ride services. For the company's Airline service they have now introduced "ON Line" booking facilities. The company is also promoting its concern about Air Quality and you are directed to a link on their web site which makes interesting reading - http://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/air/index.html

Arriva has launched a new concept in "the wycombe connxion" which is featured under the operators heading.

I received a number of replies to the two articles in last week's editorial concerning cyclists and DDA compliant vehicles.

Derek Doling has been busy with his scanner and provided more photos from the '60s of Thames Valley and South Midland and this weekly diet has prompted some of you to submit your own pictures from earlier days.

DDA compliant coaches - (Disability Discrimination Act)

I had interesting responses to last week's piece about DDA, one correspondent writing "Interesting piece on DDA accessibility rules which will lead to a 100% accessible coach fleet for all operators by 2020 (five years later than the cut off date for the conversion of buses) to DDA specification.

Clearly this has a cost implication which will be passed onto passengers and many operators I fear have already realised that operating DDA compliant buses on some routes will not be economic even with second hand vehicles and are more likely to withdraw from operating such services. This will force local authorities to offer tendered services and the cost of providing these services with DDA buses will then fall onto the tax payer so bus operators will not suffer. However unless the Government considers making a DDA grant available to convert or purchase a new DDA coach, the cost will fall onto the operators and many I fear will have to reduce their size or cease trading.

I am for the accessibility of all "turn up and go" services like local bus routes and express coach services which allow people the freedom to make a journey on the spur of the moment like an able bodied passenger can do. Local bus journeys after all are often made frequently by people with little forward planning, and DDA accessibility means that disabled people will be able to access the service in the same manner without having to pre-book or take a limited selection of services. However some coach service routes like the less frequent National Express services or perhaps the Stagecoach X5 would still need to be book ahead only because coaches like the Green Line Van Hool you have featured on your page will only accommodate one wheelchair user at a time, and it could be possible that disabled passengers would be left behind at stops if a wheelchair user was already on board the vehicle.

I have to wonder if this required level of service extends to private hire coaches too? People rarely decide on the spur of the moment to take an excursion or holiday, you have to book in advance and a niche of specialist operators with accessible coaches exist to cater for this market, often with vehicles which can adapt to carry more than the one wheelchair place offered by the current coaches being introduced in the UK.

I certainly do not think it is fair to impose such regulations on a industry without making some form of grant scheme possible to adapt. The DDA will have shot itself in the foot if it forces coach and bus operators to close or massively increase their prices to cover the cost of DDA vehicles."

Do readers have any further thoughts?

For reference more can read at this link : - http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2005/ria/dda-2005-final.pdf

Cyclists and safety

Following last week's item Richard Griffin writes regarding cycling - he is a regular rider, often for long distances - and he says "First of all, congratulations on another splendid issue of the OCBP News page.

Now, we all agree that many bicycle-users, particularly in Oxford, behave in a fashion which does the image of cycling no good at all.

However, in my capacity as a car-driver, lifelong cyclist and former bus/coach driver, I claim to have a response to your question, "Why when a cycle lane is provided do cyclists still use the road?".

The answer is in the question;  the cycle lane is not a valid alternative to the road.

Cycle lanes and paths are almost always more dangerous than the roads they replace.  The creation of a cycle lane/path makes the situation *worse* for most cyclists most of the time, whether or not they use it.

In a bid to promote cycling, to meet government targets, and to be seen to be "doing something good for cyclists", local councils squander inordinate sums of money creating so-called cycle facilities.

These appear to be designed by people who have never ridden a bicycle in their adult lives, and to have been created purely as a means to fob cyclists off with a "safe" option.  They generally consist of some white lines and bike symbols painted on an existing pavement, maybe some green surfacing laid, and occasionally the installation of some concrete "rumble-strip"  paving stones (what ARE those supposed to be for?).

The result is a bumpy, inferior surface, frequently strewn with broken glass (puncture-fodder), dustbins, lamp-posts and other hazards.  Severe ramps or bumps in a bike path can -- and do -- get a bike two-wheels airborne when riding at *normal* speeds.  And such is the woeful design that it can be physically impossible to get a bike through the obstacle course as painted, or even to work out how the designer (!) intended the facility to be used.

The cycle-path rider has often to travel no faster than walking-pace because of pedestrians who understandably don't read signage when walking on `their' pavement.  At every side-road the cyclist has to stop and give way to turning traffic; or, worse, the road markings say the turning traffic must give way to the bike: Cyclists, assume this right of way at your peril!  And best of all, paths frequently stop altogether as in Headington (with a pathetic sign saying "Cyclists Dismount" -- to which I think "Motorists Get Out And Push"!) whenever a big junction appears, where real benefit might come from a well-designed cycle path.

To sum up:  I, as a cyclist, am expected to use a bumpy, puncture-causing obstacle course on which I have to give way every few seconds, can only travel slowly, and risk being hit by turning traffic that doesn't expect to see you there.  And if should I exercise my understandable right NOT to use this hazardous facility, i.e. to ride on the road as normal, I get abused by people who think it's OK to endanger my life because I'm "wrong" for not using the cycle path.

So to all you fellow drivers out there, next time you see a cyclist not using a cycle path -- it probably isn't ignorance nor bloody-mindedness, it's probably that they want just the same as you:  to get from A to B as quickly and as safely as possible.  And that almost certainly means riding on the road.

Richard does have valid points and as someone has worked in Holland and seen the Dutch approach to cycling and the tracks provided I must say we do have a long way to go in the U.K.

Driving on the Motorway

Following on from last week's item on rile 198 of the Highway Code, I would like to air another thought.

Why do motorists using the motorways seem to have a belief that they cannot use the inside lane. They often join the motorway and get into the middle lane which is where they stay come hell or highwater!

I do feel that this style of driving adds to the congestion on motorways and often seems to make the widening to four lanes a fruitless exercise.

When one used to drive on two or three carriageway roads before the age of the motorway signs indicated KEEP TO THE NEARSIDE LANE EXCEPT WHEN OVERTAKING.

Maybe our government should look at using such signs now.

High Wycombe's new bus station

Work is in process on the new bus station which is scheduled to open in July. The area around Newlands Bus Station is presently full of road works and a revised layout is being prepared.

This view was taken from Newlands Car Park, 2nd floor and the bus station will be to front of the steel work I believe.

The present bus station seems to have less activity but that maybe an illusion. Here we see things last Saturday.

I intend to take regular pictures of the work on the new bus station which will make an interesting comparison in the years to come.

An interesting opportunity to ride on a Routemaster - 19th February

Peter Cartwright has written to advise of a "running day" in High Wycombe saying "Please see the attached timetable for 19 February. We are hoping to produce a commemorative leaflet/booklet at no more than £2 which will help towards the cost of the day. It is hoped that both RML2440 and RML2412 will be in operation together with any other vehicles that might turn up."

A foretaste of things to come, RML2440 in Newlands last Saturday

Special Service to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Routemasters
introduced onto route 363 on 21 February 1966 from High Wycombe Garage (HE)

363 to Totteridge    

Sunday 19 February 2006 ONLY





HOLTSPUR North Drive







Beaconsfield Saracen's Head






Beaconsfield Station








Knotty Green Red Lion







Penn Post Office








Hazlemere Cross Roads







Terriers Cross Roads








High Wycombe Easton Street







Cricket Ground








Bowerdean Cross Roads














A - Departs High Wycombe Bus Station at 11.37       B - Arrives High Wycombe Bus Station at 15.00

363 to Holtspur

Sunday 19 February 2006 ONLY








Bowerdean Cross Roads







Cricket Ground








High Wycombe Crendon St







Terriers Cross Roads








Hazlemere Cross Roads







Penn Post Office








Knotty Green Red Lion







Beaconsfield Station








Beaconsfield Saracen's Head







HOLTSPUR North Drive







305 to West Wycombe

Sunday 19 February 2006 ONLY
































Please note this service will not operate in the event of adverse weather - e.g. snow & ice due to the VERY steep hills on this route.

Some other events in 2006: 

Special trip over route 347 from Hemel Hempstead to Uxbridge on 19 March marking the 40th anniversary of RML type vehicles starting on that route from Garston & Hemel Hempstead garages.

Bus Running Days as follows:

Sunday 14 May - Slough/Windsor

Sunday 25 June - Hemel Hempstead

Sunday 1 October – Amersham organised by Amersham & District Motorbus Society

Quarterly Video Newsletter

I am in the process of working on a quarterly video newsletter which will be available on DVD, probably in the middle of March. Please let me know those of you are interested in receiving a copy. There will be a charge of £10 plus postage and packing, about £2. The content will reflect what is going on in the area covered by this page with the chance to really get the feel of how the area is developing. I would also appreciate receiving your thoughts on what you would like to be included? E-mail me at malcolmhc@aol.com

Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new. Keep the historical info and  older pictures coming but don't forget the modern stuff.

Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 5th February 2006

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date

News of the local companies – 5th February 2006

Much has been going at Arriva with the introduction of the revised timetables on 30th January 2006. One of the main features is that the "wycombe connxion" has been born. A number of services indicated in the brochure below will operate on a half hourly basis during the main part of the day giving a variety of connections in Wycombe bus station.

A special livery has been introduced and so far a Volvo B6 - 3127 - has been given this branding.

The four faces of 3127 showing the branding applied. One feels that something more could have been done with the rear of the bus.

Nigel Peach writes "I was interested to read on your midweek update that Arriva 3127 now sports a new livery. I caught sight of it this afternoon (Sat 4th). It looks smart - it looks as though it is route branded, but as I was driving, it was difficult to see it close enough! This bus has been in Wycombe since new, and, in recent years has sported an all over ad for a garage in Little Chalfont. It has also spent quite a lot of time out of service! If it is branded for route 74, then it replaces its twin, 3126 which previously had branding for this route, and is now in a cannibalised state at the depot following a severe fire."

Within the changes made on the 30th, a revised route pattern saw the elimination of the 339 to Lane End and the 301 to Flackwell Heath, these routes being replaced by a new through route numbered 30.

The linking of routes is interesting since over the years the popularity of such linkings has become less due to traffic congestion and subsequent poor performance. The developments shown in High Wycombe seem to buck that trend whereas in Oxford the Oxford Bus Company has split the Kidlington-Barton route due to reliability of a cross town route.

Robert Searby writes "Arriva has changed the times of lots of routes around High Wycombe. As noted by your page on 23 January there is a deliberate attempt to have the main routes leaving HW at 15 and 45, including the 74, 317, 323/324, 328/329 and 362.

The timetable for the 328/329 is much simpler than it used to be with a regular service from early until early evening. I do mean early, as the first bus is now 05.15 from High Wycombe to Reading (M-F), this previously ran empty and there is an extra early evening 328 from Reading to HW which was also previously empty. Some of the longer gaps, eg Henley to Marlow 08.35 to 09.26 and 15.53 to 16.40, have been plugged by this regular timetable. The variant via Lancaster Road in Wycombe has gone. I think there is one later journey to and from Reading on a Sunday.

I am sure there will be downsides with reliability as peak hour extra running and recovery time has been lost. Under the old timetable the 07.00 from High Wycombe arrived at Reading at 08.33 with 34 minutes allowed from Sonning, now it leaves HW at 07.15 and arrives at Reading at 08.35 with just 17 minutes allowed from Sonning. The departure (before and after) is at 08.45. Then there was an 08.45 arrival in Reading on the 329, convenient for commuters, which didn't leave Reading until 09.17. Now it arrives at 09.00 (in theory) with less turnround time. Maybe the bus lanes have made Reading traffic better but I doubt that this is achievable.

Last night the 17.15 from Wycombe was at least 20 minutes late between Marlow & Henley while this morning the 07.45 from Reading was also 20 minutes late leaving Henley, with the next 329 less than 5 minutes behind. I am sure timekeeping will suffer. It would appear that the service is now run with 6 buses straight through, although of course it may not be that simple.

There have been more Olympians recently, particularly on the 328. Yesterday I saw two different ones on 328 workings and this morning there was one on the 06.45 from Reading to Wycombe. Interesting because this appears to arrive at Reading as a 329 and I have not seen a double decker on the 329 route into Reading for some years. The local press some months back said a particular schools journey couldn't have a double decker due to low trees, presumably on the southern end of the 329. So maybe this has changed. But still a majority of the B10Bs on the route. Incidentally these seem to be found dead at the roadside or on the back of a tow truck more than any other buses I have ever seen, I can recall at least 4 between Marlow and Henley in my daily travels over the last 2-3 years, including 2 this winter."

Well this is a factual report from Robert and raises some interesting points.

30 minutes in pictures at Newlands Bus Station last Saturday

Olympian 5144 and Trident 5432 work the new service 30 last Saturday

Last Saturday saw buses on wrong routes compared to their branding.
Above we have 3865 working the 31 for which it is branded, however 3821 was off the 33 and working the 31.

Volvo 3854 was working the 326 instead of the 328/329 for which it is branded.

The Aylesbury route had two ex Wycombe Bus vehicles, being 3834, ex OBC dual door Dart and SLF 3823, unbranded.

Sunday morning saw red route branded Dart SLF 3825 on the 342 to Stokenchurch.

The 33 route had a variety of buses rostered on Saturday including some double decks.
Trident 5422 was one such bus completely devoid of any destination or route number except the nearside 38 carried since before it arrived at High Wycombe.

The 326 also had a variety of buses in use as did the 345.

The 32 to Thame usually has a Solo in use, this being the case on Saturday.
U9 London spare Dart MPD 3482 was working the 317.

Unusually a Vario worked the 340 to Radnage last Saturday.

Glenn Knight was at Luton Airport on Monday the 30th January and took pictures of two Volvo Olympians Northern Counties
5151 S151 KNK & 5150 S150 KNK from Watford on the 321.

Vikki Lee writes from Kidlington to say that she saw an Arriva Trident working the 280 in Oxford last week. This is an elusive working as so far no one has come up with a picture of a Trident on the 280.

Mark Lyons sent a few pictures including the one below of a new decker working TfL routes.

Martin Oxenham, the Operations Manager has provided some interesting information on this company including a fleet list. They also have new timetables for Line 4 and these and the new livery are the work of Best Impressions and Ray Stenning.

Pictureview of Carousel - February 2006

The new Renault Agoro now working on Line 4. Pictures by Gavin Francis, Nigel Peach and Malcolm Crowe

A selection of the double deckers now working for Carousel, note the application of camera equipment on the Olmypians.

The single deck fleet in action, many of which now carry the new livery/

The latest repaint is D480 seen here being prepared for service in the workshops last week.

If you need a Routemaster for that wedding Carousel can oblige.

A demonstrator joins the fleet for one month

An Enviro 300 has joined the fleet for one month and heralds the arrival of a number of demonstrators over the coming months.
An Enviro 400 decker is expected in a few weeks time. It would appear that the days of the Metrobus are now numbered.

Current fleet list

To the surprise of many three Tridents are once again being repainted red. The first two 103 and 105 took to the road last week.

Of interest is the retention of the super rear which due to the lack of rear destination equipment could cause some confusion in town
and the use of revised fleet name styles. Pictures by Gavin Francis

The foregoing loss of three Tridents for Park & ride has seen Volvo B10Bs working the 300 and 400 routes.

636 is seen working a 400 service - picture by Gavin Francis.

First in Berkshire

I am advised that First are retaliating to Arriva on the Wycombe-Slough route from 1 April with an enhanced hourly service on route 74 - 5 minutes in front of Arriva leaving Wycombe at 10 mins past each hour. That means 3 buses per hour between High Wycombe & Slough Mon - Sat daytime!!

Motts of Aylesbury 

Seen in Wrexham last Saturday on an away Wycombe Wanders fixture - picture by Gavin Francis

A Scania Irizar works a 737 Stansted Airport service through High Wycombe last Saturday.

R H Transport

Some further SOLOs have arrived and a loan bus from Mistral.

I think this Vario once worked for British Airways at Heathrow. It was on 25 working last Thursday evening.

One of the latest Solo deliveries is this seemingly smaller and narrower version than MX55WCZ.

This week sees the announcement of some significant route changes which will come into effect at the end of March.

South Oxfordshire Service Changes from 26th March 2006

Important changes are being made to Stagecoach services in South Oxfordshire from 26th March 2006 affecting routes X4/N4, 31/X31/N31, 32 and 34.

Route X4

As part of a package of bus service changes Stagecoach in Oxfordshire is saying a fond farewell to its X4 service between Abingdon and Oxford. In its place there will be a half hourly daytime service provided by routes 32 and 33 an hourly evening and Sunday service provided by route 31, and a 20 minute frequency on Friday and Saturday nights.

Route X30

A new express service between Oxford, Grove and Wantage every 30 minutes Monday - Saturday daytimes and approx every 90 minutes on Sundays. The route will operate direct from Wantage and Grove via A338, A420, Cumnor Hill, Botley Road and Oxford Rail Station to Oxford City Centre.

Modern, low floor, easy access buses with wheelchair and buggy access will operate every journey (These are the Darts now in use on the X4). One morning peak journey will continue to be operated by an Oxford Tube coach offering low floor access, more comfort and more seats.

Route 31 will offer an improved hourly frequency via Abingdon evenings and Sundays, whilst routes 32/33 will offer an hourly service via Abingdon Monday - Saturday daytimes.

Route 31/X31

New express route X30 will replace the current X31 semi-express service with a doubled frequency on a faster route via Cumnor Hill.

Routes 32/33 will replace route 31 via Abingdon during the daytime.

The frequency through East Hanney and Marcham villages is reduced to hourly, but route X30 will serve the main road past East Hanney every 30 minutes.

The evening frequency is increased to hourly, and the Sunday service will operate for a larger proportion of the day. New express journeys on route X30 are also added during Sunday daytime.

Route 32 and new Route 33

Route 32 is extended to/from Oxford to form a clockwise circular 32 and anticlockwise circular 33 along the following route:

33: As reverse

Both routes will operate hourly Monday - Saturday, combining to give a 30 minute frequency between Oxford and Abingdon.

Route 31 will provide an hourly frequency between Oxford, Abingdon, Marcham, East Hanney, Grove and Wantage evenings and Sundays.

Bicester Service Changes from 26th March 2006 

Improvements are being made to Stagecoach routes 27, 28 and 29 from 26th March 2006.

The routes within Bicester will be simplified and renumbered to follow three main variations for the whole day:

27A Oxford – Bicester – Glory Farm – Launton (currently route 28/28A)

27B Oxford – Bicester – Glory Farm – Langford (currently route 27/27A)

27C Oxford – Bicester – Ambrosden – HMP Bullingdon – Arncott (currently route 29/29A)

Certain peak journeys will continue to operate via Bowmont Square. Buses will operate via Bucknell Road, Blenheim Drive, Shakespeare Drive and Middleton Stoney Road in both directions and will no longer serve Wansbeck Drive and Kingsclere Road in the mornings. Instead a temporary bus stop will be located on Middleton Stoney Road near the junction with Chalvey Road pending a review of the bus stops in the area later in the year.

Morning peak journeys will continue to be numbered X27 and will not pick up passengers after Five Mile Drive. The peak frequency is revised to operate every 15 minutes to improve reliability, but no changes are made to the overall daytime timetable.

A new hourly evening and Sunday service is introduced to Glory Farm, whilst Launton and Langford will have earlier buses in the morning peak and later journeys in the evening peak to help make it easier to travel between these areas and Oxford.

Morning peak journeys from Arncott will also benefit from the changes with a faster journey time to Oxford.

The evening frequency from Oxford will be increased to hourly and more night buses will run on Friday and Saturday nights. The Sunday evening service is however withdrawn in the light of the recent improvements to the X5.

New double deck vehicles will operate on 90% of journeys between Oxford and Bicester to offer more space for passengers to sit back and relax. Every departure will be operated by modern low floor buses to provide easy access for all.

These changes follow the recent improvements to the X5 which provides a 30 minute frequency between Oxford and Bicester every day of the week. The service also provides links for Bicester residents to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.

Tickets are interchangeable between routes 27 and X5. Explorer tickets are also available on the first bus which allow give unlimited one day Stagecoach travel across Southern England outside of London.

Timetables will be available on the Stagecoach Oxfordshire web site by Friday 10th February 2006. 

Vario 42383 works an X4 service from St Aldates - photo by Gavin Francis

31353 works the 59 from Oxford to Banbury last week. - picture by Gavin Francis

Volvo 20689 works a 66 service last Thursday - this is one of the most recent to be refurbished at Swindon.

An event of some interest took place last week when Brookes required some extra services on the U1 between Harcourt Hill and Wheatley. As we had proved that Tubes could run under the station bridge I was able to use a Tube last Tuesday on the U1 reliefs. First used was 50105 and then in the afternoon 50122. These working were repeated during most of last week using Tube coaches.

Coach 50105 is seen first at Harcourt Hill and later in Queen Street on a U1 working.

One interesting point was that the Neoplans on the Tube and those on Megabus were built in Stuttgart. That factory is now closing and production has been transferred to Bavaria.

A shortage of coaches for Megabus services saw Cardiff roster this Volvo/Plaxton last week.
The coach, 52404, more at home between Cardiff and Hereford is seen at Green Line in London last Thursday.

Star Travel, Aylesbury

John Wood sent this report on Star Travel, Aylesbury who work a local town service 36 from the Bus Station to Haydon Hill. He says "On 3rd Jan I saw a Mercedes 709 / Alexander bodied minibus in service reg. M248 UTM in full Stagecoach national livery (but with no fleet numbers). By Monday 9th Jan 2006 it had been repainted into Star Travel livery of white with yellow/blue flashes along the side around  the fleet names.

This batch of bodies for Stagecoach are unusual in that they were built with a rear route number box that protrudes slightly into the roof line. Normally they are just big enough to display the route number but the Star Travel bus has a much bigger box - large enough to show a destination. I wonder if it originates from somewhere special - Exeter perhaps? 

Just to illustrate what I mean I have also enclosed a further couple of views from the New Zealand holiday. Identical buses (but with standard rear no.box) taken at the Upper Hutt depot of Stagecoach Cityline Wellington on Saturday 12 November 2005. By then Stagecoach was just about to sell its New Zealand interests to a local finance group.


I can only presume that they were exported from the UK as they are exactly the same as the Stagecoach Oxford staff shuttle vehicle albeit in the old colours!"

John then wrote "I bit more info on the above. It is indeed ex Stagecoach South West group (Devon General etc) fleet No. 40248 and was shown in the 2005 Stagecoach handbook as "withdrawn". New in 1995 it actually has a Marshall body rather than an Alexander - I will try an get a photo of it"


Changes to services 30 January 2006 

Revised timetable from 30 January 2006 for X39 Premium Route Wallingford - Oxford - Watlington: includes journeys every half hour during the day between Wallingford & Oxford (Monday - Saturday) and extra late night journeys Friday and Saturday nights. 

101 service will become part of the new X39 Premium Route, operating hourly between Oxford and Watlington

X40 additional evening journeys

Revised timetable 105/106 service revised timetable 107 service

Pictures by Gavin Francis and myself.

If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at 

Binders Yard on Saturday 4th February 2006

Steve Bunce sent this picture of this little Bristol upon which renovation is under way.

Two pictures of vehicles at Ward Jones and on which work is taking place.

Magpie have taken another yard at Cryers Hill. Part of their fleet can be seen above.

Cliffs Coaches also reside at Binders Yard.

Harris Coaches is another occupant.


Gavin Francis took this picture of GHA Coaches who have this ex Stagecoach Volvo, which I think was a Carlisle flood victim.

One of the ex Stagecoach Oxford Dennis Lances now in Birmingham. Picture by Ben Morroll.

If you have any pcitures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at 

More on the past in High Wycombe

Deregulation and Competition

Ed Maun wrote

As you are no doubt aware, 2006 marks 20 years since the introduction of local bus service deregulation. By way of a change, I have penned a few comments on how relatively little competition has occurred in the Wycombe area during those 20 years. You may like to consider including it on the web site. As it is more recent history, it may provoke a whole new area of comment.   

Bus Service Competition

It is a sobering thought to realise that 2006 marks the 20th anniversary of bus deregulation which paved the way for competition on bus routes. Looking back over those 20 years, it interesting to note how relatively little competition has occurred in the High Wycombe area during this time. 

Looking back through press cuttings I am reminded of the dire warnings being forecast of the decimation of bus services as the bill that became the 1985 Transport Act wended its way through Parliament.     This didn’t come to be as noted in the Bucks Free Press (BFP) dated 1st August 1986 which carried the headline “All local bus routes are safe”.   In fact in the High Wycombe area there was relatively little change as Alder Valley North and London Country North West continued to operate on their traditional routes including securing County Council contracts for most of their services not registered commercially.   This even included AVN and LCNW still sharing the cross town 326 service.  Inevitably there were a few changes.    For example, Crooks Coaches took over operation of service 348 between Turville and High Wycombe and Heyfordian picked up the Marlow Bottom to High Wycombe service. 

Operators were not allowed to submit changes for three months from the start of deregulation on 26th October 1986 to allow the new regime to settle down, but apart for some fine tuning in January 1987, operations were quite stable for some time. 

However in 1988 Harris Coaches started to compete with Bee Line as successors to AV North on the High Wycombe to Desborough Castle leg of service 303.    The response of the Bee Line was to register extra services which soon lead to Harris withdrawing (September 1988) which was quickly followed by Bee Line withdrawing its extra journeys. 

In 1990 the Bee Line got fed up with London Country North West’s seemingly poor reliability on the shared cross town 326 service so they registered extra journeys themselves to compete, which lead to an all out bus war which the Traffic Commissioner was called in to sort out.    One comment in the BFP dated 4th May 1990 read “This has meant that sometimes the residents of Micklefield Estate have had six buses an hour waiting for their custom , three from each company.   Naturally, of course, when it has been raining cats and dogs and the shopping bags are especially heavy there isn’t a bus in sight.”   At the Commissioner’s Public Enquiry on 29th May 1990 he ended the 1986 sharing agreement and ruled that the two companies should work separately.    This led both companies vowing to fight to the bitter end. 

A major competitor surfaced in 1991 in the guise of Motts Travel Yellow Buses operation. This included competing on the trunk High Wycombe to Aylesbury route with the Wycombe Bus Company which had recently taken over the Bee Line in the High Wycombe area.   Wycombe Bus responded by increasing the frequency of the 323/324 service to every 20 minutes from half hourly. There were all sorts of comments in the press about bus wars.    One comment from the BFP dated 11th October 1991 read “It is like Silverstone in Princes Risborough when the buses head for one solitary passenger”. There were numerous accusations of each company blocking the other’s buses at stops and covering up each other’s timetables at stops!   Is it co-incidence or otherwise that Motts chose a yellow livery scheme to merge in with Bee Line yellow buses and hence confuse the passengers?    The affect was short lived as Wycombe Bus soon chose a red and white livery similar to the parent Oxford company. 

This competition gave rise to various short workings by Wycombe Bus between High Wycombe and Lacey Green and between High Wycombe and Princes Risborough.   Motts eventually sold (July 1995) most of its Yellow Bus network to The Shires (successor to Luton & District) which also owned the Chiltern Rover operation based in High Wycombe.   This meant that Wycombe Bus and Chiltern Rover were now in direct competition.     All out competition between these two companies was unsustainable as there were just not enough passengers available.    The issue was resolved by an agreement to share the High Wycombe routes with surprisingly Wycombe Bus securing the town routes and Chiltern Rover appearing on some unfamiliar rural routes.   I have always had the opinion that Wycombe Bus had the best deal!  (All purely academic now of course, as Arriva has the lot – and that’s another story!)   This recasting of the area’s bus services commenced operation from Sunday 23rd July 1995.    This meant that Chiltern Rover became the sole operator on the High Wycombe to Aylesbury service, a route that Thames Valley and its successors had operated since 1926. 

Operations settled down once again until the birth of Carousel Buses in 2000.     This company grew on the back of County Council contracts which by then were being given up or lost by the bigger companies, leading to numerous smaller operators appearing on local bus services.   Eventually Carousel started to compete commercially on Arriva (as successor to both Chiltern Rover and Wycombe Bus) services which currently include the 339 to Lane End (started June 2004) and the 4 to Chesham (started October 2004).    There is also competition along the London Road to Bourne End. 

Bearing in mind the still large number of bus services available in the High Wycombe area, there is still relatively little competition.    What I wonder will happen over the next 20 years?   Only a very brave person would dare to guess! 

Thames Valley Historical from Ed Maun

Thanks for another varied set of old pictures in issue 163.    Just a few comments that you may find interesting.      Referring to the pictures of Bristol K double deckers, the picture of FBL 32 is in Maidenhead depot, I think DMO 673 is in the yard of Maidenhead depot but I am not sure! – I think the white building in the background behind the bus was used for offices and was once a house known as The Cedars.    The rest are taken in the Reading, Lower Thorn Street depot.    The Maidenhead depot was in Bridge Street and both these depots have long since disappeared under new developments!    Looking at the re-bodied coaches; DMO 665 is in Maidenhead bus station and FMO 21 is in the yard at Reading, Lower Thorn Street.    The forward entrance Bristol FMO 949 is actually type LL6B and was new in 1951 as B39R; it was converted to B39F configuration in 1958 for One Man Operation.   I think this photo was taken at North Dean.  Bristol LH RRX 997G is interesting as it shows the vehicle after new taller windscreens were fitted to improve visibility for the drivers, the RRX batch were built with particularly shallow screens.    The coloured photo showing a line up of LDs, FLFs, Lolines and RTs would probably have been taken in early 1973 as the sixth bus from the left (a Dennis Loline) is in the Alder Valley dark red livery.    This livery only lasted a few months after the formation of Alder Valley on 1st January 1972 as the National Bus edict said poppy red or leaf green!     Green paint was originally delivered to AV, but they subsequently chose to use red.   Some of the Lolines and FLFs appear to be already in poppy red livery.   The picture was taken in the “new” Reading depot yard at the back of the depot buildings and entered from Weldale Street.    This area was created by demolishing a large number of old terrace housing.    By this time the Lower Thorn Street entrance had been blocked off due to road widening and the building of slip roads to the roundabout on top of the underpass.    In fact the road name had even changed to Thorn Walk which was reflected on the buses’ legal lettering.    There was of course a long standing entrance to the depot itself on Weldale Street.   If memory serves me correctly, I think a one way flow was used with buses going in from Weldale Street and out via Lower Thorn Street.

Some more historical pictures from Derek Doling


The pictures above reflect how things were in late 1960 and early 1961.
The Bristol L 559 is on the 33, what a change from today.
The two Windover coaches on South Midland work look in good condition. Oh for Time Travel.

Mike Penn and some reminiscences 

I'm pleased to see that you have been publishing some vintage photos of Thames Valley buses.  I was always keen on Thames Valley having spent three years at Reading University in the 1960s.  You might also like this photo, one of my earliest colour slides.  It is of Thames Valley H16 (HOT 394) taken at Newbury in June 1966.  This was one of a number of Duple bodied Guy Arab IIIs inherited from Newbury & District, this one originating with Venture of Basingstoke.  The "H" prefix to the fleet number indicated that it was a highbridge bus, most Thames Valley buses then being of lowbridge construction.


Thames Valley History by Nigel Peach. 

I was very interested to see the photo of forward entrance Bristol LL 567 (FMO 949). This bus has been preserved. Indeed you featured it in your page of 3rd September 2000, when you had been down in Somerset, where it was being restored by Rexquote, Bishop's Lydiard. 


In the following photo (of LH RRX 997G) I'm fairly sure that the driver is one who is also an enthusiast and often drove on the Wycombe Running Days over the years. But it may just look like him!

John Hays and Hatters Lane

John Hays writes "Following the recent publicity in the local press concerning Wycombe Marsh bus garage, I discovered your very interesting website. I thought you might like a photo of the first rte 442 climbing Hatters Lane- taken during the mid 60s-didn't note exactly when."

Coming events

Running Day in Aldershot with details from Andrew Dyer.

I wonder if you could put a piece in your "forthcoming events" section about all the excitement that will be in Aldershot (not often you see the words "excitement" and "Aldershot" in the same sentence!!) over the weekend of 3 & 4 June this year. 

Stagecoach is organising an event jointly with the Aldershot & District Bus Interest Group to celebrate 100 years since the first bus service operated from Aldershot to Farnborough in June 1906. There will be a running day and on Sunday 4 June we will be holding an Open Day at our depot in Halimote Road, Aldershot. As with the Portsmouth event last year, we hope to attract local families as well as enthusiasts and all proceeds raised will go to local charities. 

As Aldershot has such a strong history of Dennis operation, we are hoping to get as many different types of Dennis bus on site as we can. Do you have a contact at the Oxford Bus Museum who might be persuaded to bring a KFC Loline 2? Sadly, I don't think any of the Loline 1's or 3's that were on loan from A&D to COMS in 1969/70 have survived to enable them to make an appearance, although there will certainly be sister vehicles in the SOU xxx and AAA xxxC batches there.

Running Days as advised by Peter Cartwright, Running Day Organiser  Amersham & District Motorbus Society 

At last I'm able to officially notify everyone of the Running Days for 2006.

Sunday 14 May 2006 is the date for the second Slough/Windsor Running Day based on Slough Bus Station. Since last year a huge new Tesco store has been built adjacent and is now fully operational. Due to traffic delays experienced last year in Windsor an extra 5 minutes each way is being added to running times between Slough and Windsor.

There is no St George's Day parade to hold us up this year and the Queen's official birthday is 2 weeks plus later when her 80th birthday is marked. I know of no Royal Wedding planned for Windsor this year and, hopefully, timekeeping will be better on the Windsor routes.

An enhancement to the Burnham Beeches service is envisaged with the opposite way round the loop. There is also the chance to have double deck workings but terminating on the eastern fringe of the Beeches.

Another new route for this year will be a service through Windsor Great Park. Crown Estates are happy with this and I have a meeting arranged  with them on Tuesday 10 January. White Bus Services currently operate a restricted service here but not on Sundays & on only certain days of the week. Operation is likely to be by non-LT single-deck vehicles. A large number of vehicles is required including at least 16 double-deckers.

Some 40 years earlier on 15 May 1966 RMLs were allocated to Windsor Garage to work several routes in the area. RMC coaches had already been there for some time.

WR Garage operated many other types of vehicle including RT,RF,RC,RCL,RB,RS,GS,SMA,SNB,STL, T and of course some of these only operated in the London Country period. Additionally in the summer months Central area red vehicles were commonplace as green vehicles were reassigned to Green Line relief duties so any red-liveried vehicle would be welcome. At least 30 vehicles (including 5 non-LT/LCBS vehicles will be needed to maintain the schedules. 

As 1966 is the 40th anniversary of route 724 it is hoped to have a feeder to/from the Northern areas and to run the route from Slough through Windsor, Old Windsor, Runnymede to Staines. Via Runnymede, by the river Thames was the original routeing when it was extended from Staines to Windsor Castle. It did not serve Windsor Garage nor will it in 2006. The coach link to Staines will therefore be 724 this year in place of 718.

Anyone offering to operate a 725 from at least Kingston will be welcomed. Please let me know.

At the moment there is not an area for display vehicles  but every effort will be made to find one. Can I please ask anyone who came last year and was allocated blinds and who will/cannot come this year, to contact me urgently so I can collect them for re-issue to others. These are expensive and will be needed on the day.

Sunday 25 June 2006

This date in mid-Summer is for the first Hemel Hempstead Running Day to be based on the Bus Station. Arriva the Shires and Essex have given permission for us to use the bus station that day but like Slough this is an operational bus station and we will not interfere with their operations which are anyway much reduced on Sundays.

This is the normal date for North Weald which will not take place this year and the NLTS have no plans for a replacement event that day.

Discussions have also taken place with Dacorum Borough Council, Herts County Council and the police who have all been most helpful. I have also spoken to the Market Superintendent and am able to book and pay for stall space on the day. For those who don't know Hemel, the covered market is situated behind the bus station - an excellent location.

The market will have a hot food stall that day and another stallholder sells confectionery, soft drinks, ice cream etc. Ample toilet facilities are at the bus station.

Peter Gomm and I visited Hemel on Fri 6 January and, with advice from the police, have identified an area nearby for display vehicles in Dacorum Way and vehicles on long breaks can park in Queensway (formerly Bury Road) between Leighton Buzzard Road and Marlow's, the railway station on one unused bay on Sundays and the bus station itself can be used for shorter breaks without disturbing its smooth operation. Health & Safety issues have to be borne in mind. A requirement of at least 10 double decks and 11 single decks are needed. This excludes any duplication which will be needed.

A number of rural and inter-urban routes have been chosen for operation - 302, 307 ,312.316. 317.317a,318,319 ,320,330, 337 ,347,706,708, 724. The 724 is for a feeder service to/from Watford from the North and then a 708 to/from Hemel. At the moment I have nothing from the South - any suggestions/offers?  (THOSE IN BOLD HAVE TO BE SINGLE-DECK OPERATED). 

Certain places such as Berkhamsted Station provide good interchanges with rtes 317/a and 312 connecting there and also in central Watford with the 302 and 347 connecting.

The biggest interchange of all, of course, is the bus station.

Again in Hemel a wide range of vehicles have been operated e.g. GS,RF, T, RB,RT,RMC, RML,SNB,SNC plus several others. Like Windsor, Central Area used to loan their vehicles for weekend and bank holiday duplication. 

If anyone has blinds for any or part of these areas please let me know urgently.

Please respond as quickly as you can as I want to finalise timetables/duties etc asap.

I am paying a visit to Hemel this morning to see what it's like between 11.00 and 12.00

Sunday 1 October 2006 - the 18th Running Day at Amersham.

As route 724 is 40 years old this year, apart from the feeders, I want to schedule a service between Watford and High Wycombe via Amersham - the original route south of Watford. This will be 29 years to the day since MA Garage took over duties from HE - High Wycombe Garage which closed the previous day, 30 September 1977.

This year should see the brand new bus station at High Wycombe open by this date and this would be the ideal place to terminate. More on this Running Day in due course.

It is hoped to celebrate 40 years since RMLs took over route 363 Totteridge - Holtspur in February 1966. Weather permitting it is hoped to have RML/RMLs running over the route on Sunday 19 February. Likewise a month later to run over the full length of Route 347 Hemel - Uxbridge which received RMLs on 20 March 1966. Anyone else interested in joining us?

Please feel free to contact me by phone 01494 437750 or by e-mail - Peter_Cartwright@wycombe.gov.uk - or post at 54 Guinions Road, HIGH WYCOMBE, HP13 7NX. 

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news & when each News Page is posted
please let me know on malcolmhc@aol.com

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date


These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend

Bus Zone Logo (2421 bytes)

Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire

Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK

The Oxford Bus Museum

Ray Jackson Art

A web site which has paintings of buses.
Nice present for a Christmas or Birthday wish list !!



Bus Services in Buckinghamshire

Bus services in Oxfordshire

Where are the Chilterns?

Visit this informative site through the link below.

back to home page
Map showing the Chilterns Hills beginning in Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley and stretching north-east through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The highest points are over 250m. There are various water courses running from the Chilterns to the South East.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002