Sunday 15th May 2005
next update week ending 27th May 2005
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An interesting week passing with a few noteworthy items. The new M A N s arrived at Thames travel and under their heading you will find a report with pictures.
Heyfordian have some further coaches, one of which made a few people have a double take in Oxford city centre last Friday, see the report under that operators heading.
I read in Saturday's Daily Express that a bus lane camera in London has supposedly taken a £1 million in a year since it was made operational.
Also work on preparing the Megabus M A N coaches for service on The Oxford Tube proceeds apace and their introduction is imminent. More pictures under the heading below.
Contributions from so many people continue to arrive in my e-mail boxes each week and this week there are new additions to the list. I must thank all of you who help to make this page so widely read and from whom I receive kind comments. I understand from a number of you that it takes more than one sitting to get through the page so maybe I am making it too much??
Bus Lane camera takes a £ million.
The Daily Express reports today that a bus lane camera in Hampstead, London has generated more than 10,000 offences in 12 months. This, it is claimed, has netted the operators, Camden Council, more than £1 million in fines. i wonder if the Oxford motorists would be so prepared to abuse the bus lanes in Oxford if they thought they were going to get £100 fine for each infringement. I notice that the end of the bus lane at Green Road, Headington is often abused and indeed there have several collisions in the area. Also the bus lane ending at Headington shops, inbound fro m the east is often the source of problems. I do however understand that the £100 fine system is only applicable to London.
Road works in Oxford cause delays.
This past week has seen roadworks on New road in connection with the new housing development on the site of Oxford Castle. The mound still stands but the surrounding area is being given over to new dwellings. The surprising thing is the fact that although single line working was in place, the disabled parking bays were still available. Due to the fact that George Street is still closed and the 100 is therefore picking up in New road at the P&R stop there have been some significant delays caused. I took a few pictures on Friday afternoon to illustrate the problem and these are shown below. Seemingly the police are unable to do anything as parking is regulated by an outside contractor, the builders advised the authorities 6 months ago that this work would take place and yet it seemed that traffic was supposed to make do and manage.
The three pictures above show the delays, congestion and also the proximity of the disabled parking bays to the work in hand.
Added to this, that is to say roadworks in New Road and George Street, there are also works in hand on Abingdon Road, Cowley Road and at St Clements traffic lights, where there were significant delays early on Friday evening, with police controlling the exit of Morrell Avenue. I wonder when work is due to start on the proposed works at Green road roundabout, that should really cause some major delays.
When things go wrong for the bus operator.
I always try to be impartial with respect to all the operators in our area and I think the pictures below should be aired whilst accepting that in an ordered world things do go wrong. Kardos Recovery are the nominated recovery agent for many companies in our area including Oxford Bus and Stagecoach. I was told by one of the Kardos operatives that no one company has any more breakdowns than any other and one can, from time to time, see their rather splendid trucks going about the business they were designed for. Ironically both buses in the pictures below were Dennis Tridents but one can see all manner of types being recovered over a period of several months. Indeed whilst walking on the Nature Reserve above the M40 cutting on Saturday evening, for once without my camera, I saw one of the Oxford operators coaches being towed back to Oxford by Kardos.
I do think also that the Kardos trucks are most interesting in their own right.
Picture nr 1 was taken on Friday 13th, oh dear, and picture nr 2 is from Martyn Banham taken a few weeks ago.
I must say Kardos are very efficient in what they do but it is perhaps sad that the operating companies no longer find it practical to run their own recovery vehicles. I understand that currently rules and regulations, health and safety included, are behind the demise of the company recovery truck.
Historical reference in our area
Peter Edgar sent three picture of LT MBs working in the High Wycombe area. He says "A couple of pictures of Red MB's whilst on loan to Amersham Garage. These are photo's from my collection but not taken by me" (If anyone knows who took the photos I would be pleased to acknowledge them. Ed.)
The MBs were on routes still familiar to us in 2005
House of Watlington
Mike Penn responded on House of Watlington with an excellent collection of pictures which really give a flavour of this operator in its heyday. He writes "Firstly two Duple bodied Bedford OWBs - BBW 291 and BBW 659 photographed in Reading in June and May 1964 respectively. There can't have been many Bedord OWBs still running in 1964 but these two still look pretty good for their 22 years.
BUD 279 has a bus body (Duple or Mulliner?) while DBW 534 and DUD 810 have the normal Duple Vista body. The first two were photographed in November 1963 while DUD 810 was photographed in September 1966.
Finally two Bedford SB8s, again photographed in Reading. TDF 834 has a Duple
(Midland) body and was acquired from Cottrell of Mitcheldean while WXC 343 has a
Harrington Crusader body and was new to Grey Green. They were photographed in
November 1964 and July 1974 respectively. House had at least 5 Harringon
Crusader bodied Bedfords - WXC 343/7, WXP
719, YLF 359 and 794 COE.
According to my notes House ceased operating in August 1987.
I must record my appreciation to mike for these excellent pictures of a once familiar operators from The Chilterns.
Any more pictures of House coaches guys? Mike tells me that's his lot.
Report from Luton - Mike Penn
Mike Penn, who offered to act as
correspondent for the Luton area has sent his first report saying "I
thought that for my first report I would set the scene for anyone not familiar
The main operator is, of course, Arriva The Shires. Although most of the fleet is fairly standardised and not particularly interesting there are exceptions. There are still three Bristol VRTs in service, all in yellow school bus livery. These are 5000 (BKE 847T), 5866 (FKM 866V), both new to Maidstone & District and 5033 (SNV 933W) which was new to United Counties. This is the last remaining vehicle of those transferred from United Counties to Luton & District on its formation in January 1986. There are also four elderly ECW bodied Leyland Olympians - 5165 (EWW 544Y) which was new to West Riding and carried registration number 544 WRA at one time, 5170 (B605 UUM) and 5171 (CWR 524Y) which were new to Yorkshire Woollen District and 5381 (MUH 281X) which was new to National Welsh and came via Arriva Southend. 5171 only arrived a few months ago to replace a later Olympian which went to Arriva Southend to replace a Dennis Trident which went to Arriva East Herts & Essex at Ware - a complicated saga! There are also two former City of Oxford Olympians - 5831/5 (G231/5 VWL). 5831 is a recent arrival from High Wycombe. Also based at Luton is the very varied training fleet of Arriva The Shires although the vehicles can be seen all over the company's area and beyond.
Turning to independent operators there are the four which make up the Centrebus group - Centrebus itself, LQT of Dunstable, David Shelley and Lutonian which was acquired by Centrebus in June last year. All use an orange and blue livery, some with white as well. Lutonian livery was originally white with orange and blue bands (not Stagecoach style!) but there are also two later livery styles which used orange, blue and white in various proportions. Recent arrivals and repaints have been in the current standard Centrebus style which is orange with a blue skirt and white roof. Two recent arrivals have been Mercedes 811Ds K510 FYN (ex NDZ 7936) and K254 JNV (ex NDZ 7921) - both from MK Metro. The first original Lutonian vehicle to be repainted in Centrebus style is Mercedes Vario Y129 TBF. This is one of two purchased new to operate Hertfordshire County Council contracted routes in St Albans although these routes are now operated by Centrebus. A Dennis Dart purchased at the same time (Y451 TBF) has now been transferred to Centrebus at St Albans.
One other operator is Grant Palmer Passenger Services. Grant is the son of Stuart Palmer who once operated former London Transport DMSs and three former City of Oxford Bristol VRTs on services in the Luton and Dunstable area and whose operations were later taken over by Luton & District. Grant operates mainly minibuses including an Optare Solo which is used on the 44 service from Luton to Stevenage. There are also some former Lothian Olympians for school services.
The photo attached is of former Thames Transit Dennis Dart L710 JUD operating for Lutonian. This illustrates the complexity of Centrebus operations as when it first appeared in the Luton area it was operating for Centrebus on hire from MK Metro and still in Stagecoach stripes. It was purchased by Centrebus after a couple of weeks or so, painted in their livery then later transferred to LQT and then to Lutonian.
The former Thames Transit Dennis Dart L710JUD, mentioned above and photographed by Mike Penn
Scrolling destination displays.
Grey writes on the matter of scrolling destination displays and in particular
those at the rear. Rogan says "...has
anybody considered the safety aspect of the absurd scrolling rear destination
boxes on the new tubes and Arriva buses on the 31 in Wycombe. Just try reading
this if you are following one. It takes too long and is a potentially serious
distraction especially on the motorway. Surely they were designed to display the
route number only? If the destination is to be displayed make them full width as
on the front - is this really too expensive?
Interesting comment this week on the state of the blinds on Carousel buses. Anybody know why the new Carousel mini DAF didn't have digital destination blinds? The manual blinds looked really tatty when I saw it a while back. Surely digital blinds are the way forward now they seem reliable. A bit worrying Arriva are fitting them to older buses - how long are they going to keep them!
Keep up the great work, always enjoy reading the reports. Takes me back to my school days with all the old pics from Wycombe!"
On the subject of the new Tubes I can report that the rear blinds are being modified to have a static display but I am unable to comment on the Arriva versions.
The scrolling display mentioned by Rogan above.
I understand that the Carousel bus Rogan refers to was purchased as dealer stock and time was a factor as the bus was required for the Princes Risboro'-Chinnor rail contract.
A few snippets from the South Coast by Andrew Dyer.
Andrew writes "Rather belatedly, I thought I should comment on your visit to Newbury. Did you know that the "CANGO" vehicles there are Stagecoach in disguise?
CANGO is a brand name adopted by Hampshire County Council for their demand responsive minibus services which are controlled from a call centre at the County Council offices in Winchester. The vehicles are actually owned by the County but are let out on operating only contracts to local operators. Six vehicles in northern Hampshire (four Optare Solos and two Optare Aleros) are run by Stagecoach on routes in the deeply rural areas around Andover, Newbury, Basingstoke and Alton.
I'm not sure whether your readers have ever been invited to nominate the worst and most unreliable bus of all time, but my vote definitely goes to the Alero!
I also saw mention of the hired in vehicles which rescued COMS from a vehicle shortage in 1970. My school day memories are that the first few buses were Aldershot & District front entrance Dennis Loline 3's (I can remember 492 KOT and AAA503/509/527C) and also East Kent Regent 5s (YJG 826, WFN 836 & GJG 750/755D) and these were all allocated to the 3 and 4 road from Rose Hill/Westbury Crescent to Kingston Road/Wolvercote. Later on there was the flood of A&D rear entrance Loline 1s which went on 6&7 road as well as replacing the newer buses on 3s and 4s.
Talking of Aldershot & District, next year sees the Centenary of bus operation in Aldershot, and Stagecoach and the A&D Bus Interest Group are jointly planning a suitable celebration in late May/early June 2006.
This year we are having a depot open day at the Stagecoach South depot at Portsmouth on Sunday 12 June to celebrate 90 years of Southdown Motor Services and any of your readers are very welcome to join us.
And finally, as well as 50 years of Chiltern Queens, this year sees the Golden Jubilee of Charlton-on-Otmoor Services, as it was in 1955 when the Holder family (still the current owners) bought out the Honour's Bus Company and started the Charlton Services name."
(Andrew Dyer is Managing Director of Stagecoach South. Ed.)
Bus Users Annual General Meeting reported by Stephen Le Bras.
Stephen Le Bras has sent a report
on a Bus Users meeting which took place this last week. He says "Bus
Users UK, formerly the Nat Fed of Bus Users, held their Annual General Meeting
in Portsmouth today. A goodly number of people attended from all over the UK to
hear speeches from those bus people who had a connection with Portsmouth,
including such personalities as James Freeman from Stagecoach, David Leeder from
First and Alan Barratt from East Thames Buses.
The chairman, Dr Caroline Cahm, had formed the organisation in the city 20 years ago and decided it was time to seek a new role as president, whilst Gavin Booth became chairman and there was no change in the treasurer role- me again.
I did think that we might be able to see the ftr vehicle which First is previewing this year but it is alas being tested on the MIRA track in Warwickshire. And then what about the Designline? Well, it wasn't there either but there was a Stagecoach Dart with a retro-fitted Euro 4 Cummins engine- one of the oldest in the Winchester fleet. A First Omnicity and a More branded Volvo/Wright single decker from Wilts and Dorset were also present.
The day finished with a ride in one of the two large single deckers up towards Waterlooville to see the Portal system in action. This involves providing real time information to passengers, together with a load of additional features like free e-mails and games."
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 15th May 2005
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News of the local companies – 15th May 2005
Neil Gow writes following the picture last week of Arriva 5830 in Oxford saying "Hundreds, I should imagine - and over the whole route. The G-VWL batch were allocated almost exclusively to the 280 road from new until COMS cut back there operation to Oxford-Haddenham when LDT (The Shires) took over Motts bus routes.
Of course , some of your younger readers may not even know that the 280 was exclusively a COMS route for years until they started retreating from rural routes in the early 1990s.
I am sure someone is now going to provide me with some pictures of these buses on the 280 in COMS days.
I should have known but somehow it escaped me that First bus and Arriva are seemingly running in hot competition on the 74 to Slough these days. I caught this twice during the past week, once on Thursday in Beaconsfield and then again today in High Wycombe.
Please forgive me for putting First pictures under the Arriva heading but it helps the story line.
First DM41133 leads Arriva 3126 on the 74 service through Beaconsfield last Thursday.
By Saturday quality was hotting up and First were providing intending passengers with a Citaro, ES64015
and Arriva were fielding a brand new Volvo 3863.
First Bus are every two hours whilst Arriva maintain an hourly frequency for most of the day. however I would question the viability of a bus service with such a frequency on this route.
Olympian 5853 forms the 1010 from Ibstone to Wycombe last Thursday morning.
Gavin Francis took this picture of 5855 on the 9th operating school service 651, again in Stokenchurch.
A selection of current buses operating with Carousel, two of which are in the new livery.
MB52 heads towards Wycombe through Beaconsfield old town last Thursday
Somewhat off its branded route DAF984 works the 321 last Thursday afternoon.
Things are pretty quiet with OBC at present and there is little of note to report. Bus Monkey sent a batch of sightings, some of which are quite interesting.
838 on 5
653, 654 on 5
639 on 15
825 on 6
606 on 300
632 on 5
630 on 15
827 on 400
Mike Penn writes following a visit to Chester saying "... On a visit to Chester at the end of last month I was surprised to see two former City of Oxford Optare Metroriders still in use - G774 WFC as shown and G771 WFC.
101 is now one only two Tridents in red livery and is seen here last Friday operating on 4 road.
I though I would bring you a series of rear shots of Citaro adverts and here is the first one, 834, but not on the X13.
The position of the rear fleet number varies according to each bus.
Two Oxford Scanias from someone whose email is Armstrong Galley.
This operator caused a few raised eyebrows in Oxford on Friday when a new acquisition operated service 14 to Thame. The driver told me that there were two more from the Stagecoach stable at High Wycombe plus a low floor.
L584JSA, still in full Stagecoach colours operates the 14 to Thame last Friday afternoon.
It came from SC Bluebird in Scotland and was last recoded at Buchan, Peterhead.
When with Stagecoach it carried the registration WLT526 for part of the time.
Captured in the yard at West Wycombe on Saturday L587JSA has already been repainted into full Heyfordian livery.
This coach was at one time allocated to Aberdeen and carried the registration ESU435
This operator caused a surprise, today Sunday, when the early morning 757 departure from Oxford to Stansted was operated by one of the Volvo B12B/Plaxton Panther coaches (V26-43) normally found on the A6 from VCS.
Indeed Ralph Adams writes "The 757 Stansted airport service is now operated by Sturt Hill (Stansted) garage instead of Heathrow as a result in changes in their operations. This should reduce the considerable wasted mileage and time on the previous arrangements."
However there are still coaches operating this service which are nominally allocated to Feltham.
Chris Lowe continues his quest, on my behalf, for ex Oxford buses in Manchester. I loved the one sent this week where he asks, can I spot the deliberate mistake? There an orange from teacher for the first correct email.
Bus Monkey sent some observations from the past few days.
20011 on 1
16518 on 1
20805 on 1
16519 on 7
42371 on 1 !!!!
20820 on 1
Stagecoach in Northants
16230 on X6
Peter Jackson from Manchester writes "Just
a little piece of news relating to your area, Ex Witney based MB709 40659 (N659
VSS) has been seen at 'Stafford Bus Centre' the vehicle dealer based in
Staffordshire (near the M6). It was for sale, along with some other ex
My question is, do you know when this was withdrawn/sold, as I wasn't aware that any of this batch (from Oxfordshire) had been withdrawn or sold, have any others been sold or withdrawn that you know of?
I was planning to visit Witney and Oxford in a couple of months to photo some of these mini's, as they used to work in Manchester."
I am sure we will receive some replies to Peter's questions.
22932 at rest in Horspath garage last week.
A third M A N coach arrived this week in the shape of 50047 which joins the two already arrived. These coaches are being prepared for service and I love the message on the upper deck front window, seemingly spoke by the Megaman.
M A N 50058 and I'm an Oxford Tube temporarily. As out-shopped on Friday the 13th.
Another new Neoplan to record is 50146 YN05WEF which must be the first for Newcastle upon Tyne.
I visited the depot last Wednesday and Fred Spresser was kind enough to take me out in a new M A N for photographs.
Details of the two are
105 AE05EUX M A N 14-220 VIN nr WMAA66ZZ74H003270 MCV N40F body 036
205 AE05EUZ M A N 14-220 VIN nr WMAA66ZZ74H003303 MCV N40F body 037
Entry into service Monday 16th May 2005
Route H1 Madejski Stadium to Royal Berkshire Hospital
Seating can be 40 seated and 25 standing
or 37 seated, 25 standing and 1 wheelchair
Exterior shots of the first M A N taken last Wednesday
Interiors shots, first to the front and then rear facing view.
The 102 is a once a day service I understand and here Dart MPD 751 works in inbound service to Oxford last Friday evening.
Ken Gladstone writes to say that the final Volvo decker has arrived - OU 05 KLA.
Indeed during my walk on Saturday evening, high above the M40, apart from the regulars I espied two of the Weavaway Volvo deckers heading homewards.
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Following the picture published last week Chris Dunscombe wrote saying "Sadly, I'm out of the area so don't (often) get to contribute to your pages, but enjoy reading them nonetheless. This week, my contribution can come at last! K14DJL was last reported with SJ&SM Waters, of Byfleet in Surrey. Other vehicles in their fleet, both Bovas, are IIL6245 (F750FWA) and R4WGT. My immediate thought was SM Coaches of Harlow, Essex (associated with Olympian of Harlow), but a check has proved me wrong! Hope that is useful,"
The Bova mentioned by Chris Dunscombe in his email above.
Carter's Fair comes to town
It's that time of year again and this last weekend has seen Cart's Steam Fair on it's annual visit to West Wycombe. I love the Bristol L pictured below.
Dave Rogers sent this picture of a rather splendid foreign visitor at Oxpens last week.
your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
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
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002