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  

News Page
Editorial & Features

Issue 273
Monday 15th September 2008

(next update week ending 28th September 2008)

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

To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail

Editorial & Features - plus Picture Corner with a few surprises

Oxford’s Bus Driver of the Year 2008

We are delighted to report that Jim Wright of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, who is based at Chipping Norton outstation was 3rd equal in this year's competition held at Blackpool as usual. Our sincere congratulations to Jim whose success in this competition is excellent. Having personally competed in the heats at Oxford I know how difficult it is, relying not only on driving skills but also knowledge of the law and highway code. Well done Jim!

Jim Wright

Some thoughts by Alistair Liddle including BDoY 2008

First of all I've got to congratulate you on your Stokenchurch to Lands End piece, it's one of the best articles I've ever read on the net and I eagerly await your next trip, Stokenchurch - John o Groats perhaps???

At least if you do do that journey you'll spend a considerable part of it in a terribly civilised country 

BDoY final today, Oxford sent Citaro 870 LF57 OXF and I've attached a couple of photographs for you, all the rest of the participating buses are on my fotopic site.

If one takes part in this event one will drive a bus from another operator.

Other pictures from BDoY

George Irvine, also from Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, who also took part sent some further pictures. From these one can see the variety of buses one is likely to drive.

All change at Stagecoach

UK Bus division reshuffles its senior management

Tom Wileman, currently Regional Director North West and Managing Director Merseyside, will become Regional Director Scotland.
Robert Andrew, currently Regional Director Scotland, will become Regional Director North. Stephen Riggans will join Stagecoach from Arriva to become Managing Director, Merseyside.
Doug Fleming is retiring as Managing Director, Stagecoach East Scotland. Charlie Mullen, currently Managing Director Bluebird & Highlands, will become Managing Director Fife & Strathtay from 1 January 2009.

Tom Wileman will manage the company on an interim basis during November and December.

Bryony Chamberlain, Director of Operations, Coach USA, will return from North America to become Managing Director Bluebird & Highlands from 1 January 2009. Edward Hodgson, Commercial Director South, will be seconded from Stagecoach South to North America in place of Bryony Chamberlain. Bryony was once with Stagecoach in Warwickshire.

Paul Southgate will retire from the position of Managing Director East Kent, but will continue to work part-time as Commercial Manager UK Bus, concentrating on business development projects.

Phil Medlicott, Managing Director Warwickshire, will become Managing Director East Kent. A new Managing Director for Stagecoach Warwickshire will be recruited in due course.

In addition Michelle Hargreaves, Operations Director, Stagecoach East, will become Managing Director South West. She will fill the vacancy resulting from Chris Hilditch’s appointment as Managing Director, National Transport Tokens, earlier this year.

Focus on primary schools, says Commission

“Practical, affordable and timely” is how David Blunkett MP described the recommendations of the Yellow School Bus Commission (YSBC), whose report he launched this morning.

The result of a year’s work by the cross-party YSBC, the report says that only £154m per annum, phased over five years, is needed to provide dedicated, quality school buses for all primary pupils who live more than one mile from their school.

Another £50m-£100m would be required for secondary school pupils.

The YSBC’s members include John Burch of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, local government experts and is chaired by former Education Secretary David Blunkett.

The very detailed report includes a full cost-benefit analysis by the University of Aberdeen and recommends the focus should be on achieving modal shift at primary schools.

If the government accepts the recommendations, operators will benefit by providing some of the estimated 7,680 vehicles required for 9,985 daily journeys.

Commuters face travel disruption as hundreds of London bus drivers stage a second strike this month.

A 48-hour strike by First bus drivers began at 0000 BST on Friday, while workers from Metrobus began a 24-hour walkout from 0300 BST.

Union leaders are demanding a standard £30,000 salary for all bus drivers across the bus network.

But managers insisted that drivers are already getting a good pay deal following increases in recent years.

The pay of First's drivers increased by 34% between 2003 and 2007 and most earn more than £25,000 a year, according to company managing director Adrian Jones.

"I am very disappointed that Unite have asked our drivers, of whom a small proportion, (22%) voted yes to the strike, to sacrifice further days pay in pursuit of this utterly unrealistic claim."

Similarly, managers at Metrobus said their drivers were among the highest paid in the south-east with pay of up to £27,612, and salaries rising by more than 20% in five years.

But the Unite union said pay disparity between London's 18 different bus operators could be as much as £6,000. Sick pay, pensions and holiday arrangements also differed, it added.

Both companies said a handful of routes were running some services.

There are 120 routes affected by the strike.

First Group Buses - 48 hour strike:

West London: 9 (heritage service only), 10, 18, 23, 28, 31, 79, 83, 92, 95, 105, 187, 207, 223, 224, 226, 245, 282, 295, 328, 331, 414, 427, 487, 607, A10, E1, E3, E5, E7, E9, E10, PR2, U1, U2, U3, U4, U5, U10, N10, N18, N28, N31, N207.

East London: 58, 67, 91, 150, 165, 179, 191, 193, 212, 215, 231, 236, 252, 259, 299, 308, 309, 323, 339, 341, 357, 365, 385, 389, 399, 476, 488, 498, D6, D7, D8, RV1, W6, W10, W11, W12, N91.

Metrobus - 24 hour strike:

64, 119, 127, 130, 138, 146, 161, 181, 246, 261, 284, 293, 320, 336, 352, 353, 354, 356, 358, 359, 367, 405, 464, 612, 654, B14, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R11, T32, T33, X26

Classic Bus and an invitation from Doug Spencer

Another great issue; it amazes me where you find the time juggling between shifts to prepare these pages. Anyway keep up the good work and I for one am very pleased to support the ‘new look’.

I found the picture of the 37 in Hambleden very evocative, especially as I used to live in Lane End through which it would have passed on its way. Any chance of posting it to Classic British Built Bus and Coach at - full copyright credit will be given.

I extend a personal invitation to all your subscribers to join this group, which now has a very select band of members and an excellent selection of pictures:




I look forward to making many more new “pen”- friends via the OCBP and CBBBC pages.

Many thanks and best wishes from Doug Spencer in Chesterfield.

Views on the revised format of the page

From Bob Stanger

Thank you for another excellent edition. 

With regard to the changes that you have made I can hand on heart say it makes no difference to me at all. This is not however me being disinterested, but a reflection of my enjoyment of reading each edition for I would stand on my head and balance the laptop on my feet if necessary to read the pages. 

Maybe that is slightly exaggerated, however, given the amount time that you must expend putting each edition together, readers in my opinion should get what they are given. That is not to say we should not be grateful for any changes that you wish to make - on our behalf - but for those who dislike it lets all keep this in perspective

From Steve Warwick

I, too like the new Bus Page format very easy to use, saw you on your 737 the other day along to West Wycombe Road.

From Andrew Webb

I like the new layout to the page with different sections followed by links to the next section.  Having said that I was not unhappy with the original layout.  Whatever is easiest for you to upload would be the most sensible option in my opinion.

From Tom Male

Just thought I'd share my opinion about your new format... I prefer the old format as it was all there and able to look at in one go. However as always its the content that matters, and you do a sterling job either way!

From Geoff Cunliffe

In response toy our enquiry about how your new web page layout is being received, I must say that I have no strong feelings either way. The merit of the new style was shown last night when the majority of the page was posted early, with the operators' news being added later. The ability to post the page in parts may well be to your advantage. Navigation round the new layout is easy enough and should not confuse anyone. 

In terms of the content of the latest page, and specifically about the wheel trims (nut rings) on OBC vehicles, especially Tridents, I think silver wheels are a cop out. They soon discolour and look shabby. Please let's have the proper rings back - they really do make a vehicle look smart.

From Dave Stewart

It's all right, although personally I preferred the old way of everything in one place.  There is a risk that you might miss/ forget something in the present style. 

Otherwise, and this is an observation not a criticism : Something that may need to be addressed at some stage is the recent propensity to cover almost everything and anywhere, just because someone has sent something.  A site called Oxford-Chiltern  should perhaps concentrate on that area (and nearby border areas, perhaps as far as Reading/ Luton/ Swindon/ MK,  that sort of range). If one was looking for something, nice though it is to see pictures of Switzerland and Scotland, the OCBP would not be the place one would start looking.  There are other national and regional magazines/ websites, etc, and perhaps you are spreading too far out. To keep closer to home would likely mean that you wouldn't have to fragment the site. It would also cut down your workload to concentrate on what you do best.

Oxford./Chiltern is an especially colourful and interesting area for buses in its own right and  I, for one, look at OCBP frequently and occasionally contribute to it - but really it is essential to find out and see what is going on in OCBP land. 

Editor's reaction

Well a mixed response but as one contributor says, it is easier to put pages up as they are completed. So with thanks to all, I will continue with the revised format for the time being and try to incorporate your suggestions. 

Visit to Oxford by Geoff Cunliffe

Geoff Cunliffe visited Oxford on Wednesday 10th September 2008 and writes "Things got off to a poor start. Margaret and I came in from Pear Tree, where the P&R driver shut his doors and drove off whilst we were about 12 feet from the front of his vehicle, gesturing to us that another bus was just approaching (but it wouldn’t leave for a further ten minutes). This other bus, when leaving Pear Tree, changed the lights on the exit from the bus lane, which stopped the traffic on the main road but didn’t bother waiting for his own green light and crashed the red one. I know those lights are irritatingly slow to change but….

I had been hoping to rendezvous (again) with our Editor, but timings prevented this so I rang him as I arrived at George Street. “Get down to Carfax quickly”, he urged. “a Solo has broken down there and the High Street is in chaos”.

SCO 47316 the disabled Solo in the High Street.

Long delays in the High Street

I rushed down Cornmarket Street as quickly as my arthritic hip would allow and found the Solo, Stagecoach 47316, KX06AZC, complete with fitter aboard, about to drive off under its own steam with the Kardos wrecker ready to precede it at about 11.25am. Its positioning in the High Street confirmed that it must have caused considerable congestion whilst it was disabled. 

That was far from the end of the chaos in the centre of Oxford, for the temporary traffic lights for the roadworks down St.Aldates seemed to have a penchant for going to red at both ends! That caused that road and the High Street to jam solid on several occasions. Perhaps because of this, green Trident 106 was doing short workings on the 400 between Thornhill and the City Centre. The High Street seemed to be used by a surprisingly large number of Police and Ambulance vehicles that day. It seems that there must have been an incident towards the east but I never found out what it was.

Trident 106 was doing short workings on the 400 between Thornhill and the City Centre 

Nice to see the two OBC heritage liveried vehicles still in service, and I was lucky to photograph both together in Castle Street. Another smart little vehicle is the multi-coloured Thames Transit Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 Dart, OU57 FHA, advertising the Oxford Science Park with parts of the Periodic Table adorning it. It is one of two similar vehicles I believe.

The two OBC heritage liveried vehicles still in service, photographed together in Castle Street.

The multi-coloured Thames Transit Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 Dart, OU57FHA, advertising the Oxford Science Park with parts of the Periodic Table adorning it.

The practice of painting bus wheels silver instead of fitting the wheel discs or nut rings is as unsuccessful as most of us would predict as several are now quite dirty and the effect is one of shabbiness rather than smartness. It is just the same with my local north west operator who has tried this. 

However, my overall impression of the day was of a city straining to cope with its traffic and the bus drivers struggling, with varying degrees of success, to cope. Perhaps that explains why we were left at the bus stop at Pear Tree!

Impressions of Oxford by Bob Stanger

Bob writes "I was in Oxford recently with Horseman's and used Oxpens coach park. Armed with the camera I used the time (bus&coach) wisely and wondered if any of the following might be of interest to you and your readers. 

The photographic selection in your recent edition on Thames Travel prompted me to review the shots I took on the day and together with your photo of the Citaros made me look again at my own, now attached. 

A selection of pictures taken by Bob Stanger whilst he was in Oxford

I wondered also if my shots of coaches in Oxpens are open for inclusion. I particularly like the Man Lion coach, the VDL Hispano of Mortimer the village in which I live and the variety of coaches including two from Horseman's, mine for the day being the ex-Whittle Iveco Beulas.

Variety in Oxpens by Bob Stanger.

I was also interested to note an Oxford Tube parked in the coach park for a lengthy period moving between 3 and 4pm presumably to take up a run into London to collect it's evening fare of commuters. Is it not better for it to be returned to the garage? Does it have to pay £5 to park there?"

A most unusual double decker in use as The Jesus Bus visits Oxford

Several of you noted that a very unusual bus was in Oxford recently and two of you provided photographs. The bus is a Leyland Olympian, B145GSC, which I am told has one of only two double deck coach bodies of this design built by Alexander.

Two pictures of the bus by Gavin Francis.

A further picture, this time by Richard Sharman.

A wet Saturday in London Victoria by Stephen Le Bras

Sept 13th 2008

The day started badly- the 702 Scania/Irizar coach at Slough went mechanical when the driver (quite rightly) decided that the demister not working and he could not see through the screen. I wanted to see an NEx departure from VCS at 9am ( other people wanted to catch a 9am departure from VCS). I went off and caught the 8.26 train which was slow and arrived at Paddington at 08.59. A dash down to Marble Arch on the 7 produced the 590 coach but it was an old Bruce Bova, rather than the 58 reg Levante hoped for..

One of the two 58 registered Levante tri-axles in use on the 590 operated by Bruce Coaches.
These coaches were originally registered with 08 plates and these were changed before delivery.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Talking of NEx, there was a group of five or six people waiting at Slough bus station for the NX370 to "Brum" at 07.30, some with luggage. It never came and I did see on Malcolm Crowe's site that it is being withdrawn so maybe no one had told them. (One wonders what has happened to the two coaches - maybe owned by NEx - which were being used on this service by Dhillon's? - Ed.)

Red Darts 41259/267 are in use at Slough whilst 41353 is parked out of use and ready for the ELL... 34279 went out on the 08.00 74 to High Wycombe ( it was wearing a 335 display beforehand).

(I have included this report from Stephen as it contains information relative to our area. Ed.)

Swindon interlude by Mike Bennett

An afternoon visit into Swindon on Thursday Sept 11th enabled me to photograph some of the ex-Manchester Trident ALX400s, as listed on your latest OCBP.  I travelled in from Highworth on Route 7 on board 18179, and home later on 18183.  There were at least 2 more of these Tridents on the route that day, including 18182, plus one on Route 8 to Freshbrook.  The MAN / Enviro300s are frequently allocated to both of these routes, and I saw one leaving Swindon bus station for Cheltenham on Route 51, so this might explain their occasional absence from Route 66 - indeed the 1745 service on Saturday 13th from Gloucester Green was operated by 33943, one of the Darts photographed by Gavin Francis.  This service goes around Eaton and Appleton so it is probably better for a smaller Dart to do this route - apart from the fact that it has less seats and we left Gloucester Green with a standing load.


Just in case you were getting nostalgic for the Volvo B10M / Alexander PS, they are still allocated to Route 51 to Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Route 51 by Mike Bennett

On Monday September 15th the Route 51 Swindon - Cheltenham is being split into two parts to comply with the EU regulation concerning routes over 50 km in length requiring vehicles fitted with tachographs.  Stagecoach has chosen to do the sensible thing.  Route 51 will go from Swindon to Cirencester, where you will sit on the bus whilst it gets renumbered to Route 151 in order to continue on its way to Cheltenham.


Wilts & Dorset have decided to do it a different way with the Route 6 Swindon to Salisbury.  Swindon to Pewsey was renumbered Route 96, as seen in this photo of their Optare Spectra 3164 in Swindon on September 11th.   At Pewsey you have to change buses onto a number 6 to continue your journey to Salisbury.  On a Saturday in May this year we were going to Wilton for a model railway exhibition.  We did not want to be travelling all day so we drove from Highworth to Pewsey, in plenty of time to witness the farcical situation that was to unfold.  A Spectra arrived from Swindon and disgorged its considerable complement of passengers and they joined us at the bus stop.  The number 6 then pulled in - this time a Solo - and everyone piled on.  Luckily we were at the front of the queue so we got on first and chose our seats.  The Solo rapidly filled and there were 15 standees as we left Pewsey.  Only a very small number got off whilst many more wanted to get on the bus.  If we had had a conductor he would have been giving three bells all the way from Upavon to Salisbury.  A lot of rather annoyed people were left behind.

A moment in time – Devon 2008 by David Percy

I make no apologies for including this piece from David as it does include some nice pictures and has given me personally a desire to visit Dawlish. His picture of the trains and bus are really great. 

David writes "Please find attached a few images taken on one of the few sunny days this summer!

1. 14/8/2008. Stagecoach have invested heavily in Devon, one of the new intakes of vehicles is 19325, WA08MPD is seen in Starcross on route 2 to Exeter, with a cheery upper deck passenger!


2. 14/8/2008. Amidst a plethora of street furniture, Stagecoach 19110, MX07HMK, and local operator Dawlish Coaches, (but liveried for Majestic Holidays contracts) Bova R82AWC, vie for space at the towns main bus stand. It was the busiest day of the year for the town, with it's annual air show bringing thousands to Dawlish, the Bova was on park and ride duties, note the FirstGW 252 in the station.

3. 14/8/2008. A recent arrival at local company Dawlish Coaches is this Plaxton Primo, which works both town circular routes, due to it's higher seating capacity, it has replaced a Plaxton Beaver (which is held as a reserve vehicle) that was previously employed on these services, the higher capacity is useful as more over 60 pass holders are now using the service.


The vehicle has a regular driver, and is like a 'club' every journey, according to my Mother, who uses the service on a dally basis!

There seem to be a couple of Leyland Nationals on the railway line behind the Primo !!!"

Oxford espress coaches in new guise and news of a fleet book by Dave Francis
...A new title for GB-BG, a pocket guide to stage operators in the West Midlands. It will be available from Ian Allan's & by post from:
Additionally a couple of pics for use on the OCBP site:

R257DWL (R9OXF), Now with Daish's of Torquay. Pictured at Birmingham Digbeth Coach station
whilst passing through on tour work on 15th August.

V281SBW (V17OXF) is now with Brown of Birmingham, and makes occasional appearances on NX work.
Also taken at Digbeth & about to work a 210 service to LHR on 25th August.


The Isles of Scilly by Simon Beasley

Simon sent some pictures following a visit to The Isles of Scilly and I thought some readers might be interested as one does not see buses from this area in many places around. Also the chance to ride on such an old coach on a tour of the main island must be rare these days.

Request for information on a Volvo tri-axle by Clark Steiner 

Clark Steiner writes to ask about a bus in Peru? He says "I hope you can help me play detective.  I met a man who drove buses in Peru back in 1992. he said he drove a tri-axle Volvo bus that seated 58 people.  Do you know what model he possibly drove?   I cant find photos of any early 1990s tri-axle Volvos."

Request for information on a MacBraynes book

Matthew writes "I wondered if I could be really cheeky and seek help from your readers:- 

I'm looking for the out of print book called MacBraynes for the Highlands, it is about the bus company that was the forerunner to the Highland SBG and then Highland Country, and Rapsons / West Coast Motors as opposed to the shipping company of a similar name. 

The fleet livery was a red with a mint green top, and they had some weird and wonderful array of vehicles, especially on some of the Island services. 

If anyone has an idea I would be most appreciative" 

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

A few interesting and unusual pictures from Gavin Francis for this issue's Photo Corner.

Another picture from Gavin Francis of one of the new Big bus open toppers. Note the gold wheel trims. Is this a first?

Two routes now up for review the 38 and 507. Will Bendy buses resist the challenge?
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Superdrug use this RML seen in Oxford by Richard Sharman

A nice little coach seen in Oxford by Gavin Francis.


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