Oxford Chiltern Bus Page

Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr 44 - May 7th 2011

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002

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

A delay from my planned publication date of 30th April has resulted in a full page with well over 200 pictures. I hope everyone enjoys my efforts and the contributions from so many of you.

It has been a busy few weeks for me as I have been working the late late shift and this does not leave much time for web page work. The weather has been glorious and I suppose we have now had "summer" and colder wetter weather will be the order of the day!

A good piece of news is that I am moving back on to days after 16 months on nights. I hope this will mean better time for producing the page.

The most significant event in Oxford has been the delivery of the new Park & Ride buses to Oxford Bus. These replace Tridents delivered in 1999 and so after 12 years the city will be almost totally served by E400 deckers, many of which are and will be Hybrid buses. I have had many pictures sent to me of these new arrivals on training duties.


A full report appears under the Oxford Bus company heading.

Death of Chris Day

The death of Chris Day, co owner of Red Rose Travel, has been announced. He passed away, on last Easter Sunday, after suffering an illness. Well known through out the industry, Chris had been involved with Red Rose in Aylesbury but also in the past with the fleets of Red Rover, Keith Garages, Buffalo Travel and The Lutonian for a time as well as working for United Counties.

No doubt a sad loss to his family and also to the industry.

A theft from Carousel.


An unfortunate incident has occurred with Carousel involving a recently acquired RT. Someone has stolen the chassis and body plates which has upset Steve Burns greatly.

One wonders why people do this kind of thing which only serves to anger the owner and results in a very cooperative owner being less than welcoming to the enthusiast.

If anyone can help with this please let me know?


When readers take copies of pictures from the OCBP site 


Some of the contributors to this site have noticed that their pictures are appearing on e-bay sites selling such things.


Needless to say this is a theft of copyright and one which I deplore!


I would not wish to have to watermark photographs, thereby making them unsalable as such but if this practice continues I shall be left with no alternative. I am sure this would detract from the pleasure so many of you get from the OCBP.


May I please ask readers to do two things?


1/ If you see any photos on sale please let me know and where they are appearing.


2/ If you are someone who has copied and sold photos please desist as this is theft and I will have to take legal action against anyone found doing so.


The site is free to all readers and I pay a price to publish the pages which is not passed on.


Please respect those freedoms and I hope I may not have to mention this matter again.


Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society 

The Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society was formed in June 2010 and aims to provide an informal monthly social meeting in  Oxford for those with an interest in buses. Meetings are normally held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and normally take the form of a picture  show with local and guest speakers.  A small charge is made to cover the cost of hiring the function room and this is usually around £1 per person per meeting depending on numbers.

Next meeting: Tuesday, 17th May 2011

Bristol Omnibus 'the Green years' by Michael Walker

19.30pm - 21.30pm

Meetings are held in the upstairs function room at:

The Folly Bridge Inn

38 Abingdon Road



Some limited parking at the back of the pub, also close to bus stops (frequent X3/X13 or 35 routes stop outside)

or a short walk from Oxford City Centre - For directions click HERE 


All meetings start at 19.30pm although you are welcome to come along beforehand for food in the bar.

A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following link and we hope many of you will attend future meetings.



Finally and as always, my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - May 7th 2011.


Alex Horwood

Sorry its taken me so long to send these photos since I last emailed you. The photos include the Thames Travel Hybrid 160 on the X40 and a Heyfordian Pointer Dart on the 94/95. I also saw a Plaxton Centro at Tappins, Didcot, so I wonder if I'll see that on it soon (probably too big).


Steve Warwick

Been on rail replacement standby here are some pictures from West Ruislip plus one of the pair of Heyfordian's new Scania's.


On a green RM at Ward Jones, High Wycombe

Stefan Fafinski writes "I noticed on your webpage that you'd spotted the Snickers bus at Ward Jones in High Wycombe. It's RM125 and it's mine. More information is available on its blog at www.red-bus.co.uk  Any questions - please shout! 

G. Gamblin

Further to the item on the green RM in Binders Yard Mr Gamblin advises that this is RM125.

Steve Annells

Googled Snickers bus images and found......


The Bus Station - bus coach tram trolley and transit web links worldwide -



Mark Turner

I have attached pictures of buses taken in Hemel on 11/4/11. A lot of the pictures were taken at Hemel bus station.

They include a pictures of route 550 taken in Hemel which has been extend to Borehamwood and some of the buses have transferred from Watford to help with route 550.


Andrew Morgan 

A correction to S&J43, Sullivan Buses purchased two new 11 plate Enviros AE4 and AE5 for the Thorpe Park route but they were used from 1st of March (when the picture was taken) until the 17th of March on local Borehamwood routes as Thorpe Park had not yet opened for the season.

Glenn Knight

Greenline: YJ58 FJX 4377 is new Greenline/easyBus swoops sitting at Luton Airport on the 30th April 2011

Arriva: S160 KNK 5160 operated the 19:10 61 Luton Airport - Aylesbury seen at the airport on 30th April 2011

Gavin Francis 

I saw this coach in Oxford Street. Not sure if it is Guidelines old one relivered or a new one using the old registration.


This tri-axle Scania was at Stansted on 29th April. It is owned by Scania coaches and I have since concluded that it working for Terravision!

Gavin also sent a few pictures of the decorations for The Royal Wedding.

Premium Tours by Gez & Peter Edgar

Pictures by Gez.

Premium Tours on behalf of Harrods are operating various tours of London using a RM and I believe two RML's. I managed to get the attached pictures of RM 1979 today whilst it was waiting in Knightsbridge opposite the famous store.

Russell Young writes "One from North Yorkshire. YN05 GXB (one of five acquired) formerly on Reading ‘Vitality’ Services. Opposite York Station on Saturday 30th April 2011."


Mike Bennett writes "I was in Reading on Saturday afternoon (30th April) watching prospective bus passengers trying to find where their bus would depart from following the massive reorganisation of the bus stops. Most of those outside the railway station have been moved to Station Street, including the one for the Thames Travel services to Oxford."

Shearings by David Benyon 

Pictures of a couple of their latest acquisitions showing National Holidays 52, pictured at Ryde IOW and Shearings 309 in Portsmouth.

A Royal Wedding Day in London by Stephen Le Bras

The day started badly- I cut myself while shaving; I never cut myself. The rubber band keeping my spotting pad together broke- no spare one. As for London, it all turned out a bit low key with around 1 million people making it impossible to see the happy couple. So I went people watching and noted a few coaches along the way.
The Wedding Lucketts coach X4965 made an appearance at the start and finish of my day. Amport's new 60-plate Volvo B9R/Plaxton Elite posed with the Megabus 54101.
Hold it! The incident manager has appeared and all buses and coaches are being diverted around Elizabeth Bridge, Bulleid Way and traffic is backing up. One coach even did a three point turn to get back to VCS.

Above pictures from Gavin Francis

Soon everything is back to normal. I headed off for more spotting and returned much later to catch the coach home.
Overall, the general consensus was that the roads were so empty that many buses were running early; apart from where the roads were closed and buses were turned short. I was bounced off an 18 on to a following 18.

James Allum writes "I have some news regarding London buses:

Stagecoach East London not too long after coming back after The East London Bus Group have announced they are to lose the route 25 (Oxford Circus - Ilford via Stratford and Holborn) contract with the new tender being First London who plan to use new Gemini Double Deckers similar to the route 58 ones for this route (WVLS)

Stagecoach East London are also from September this year to lose the route 276 contract (Stoke Newington Green - Newham General Hospital Via Hackney, Stratford, Canning Town and Plaistow) to Go Ahead Docklands Buses and one wonders if the Enviro darts are to be used on this service once it begins.

Due to crossrail preparation works those familiar with the routes 147 (Ilford - Canning Town) and the 241 (Canning town - Stratford) will note the 147 terminates at Prince Regent DLR until the Summer and the service is replaced with the 541 which is a free bus connecting the Keir Hardie Estate with Canning Town and is operated by Stagecoach East London ran out of west Ham garage using Alexander Tridents."

Fleet News 

Arriva logo

Taken in Princes Risboro' - Pictures by Steve Warwick

"Secret Explorer" writes "Although the Bucks website says that the 800/850 timetable is changing (maybe) in May and in one place on the Arriva website it mentions
the Reading Station stop changes but says no timetable changes - if you actually go to the 800/850 timetable it shows the current and a revised timetable from 18 
April. The revised timetable shows a slightly modified Reading-bound early morning service, with one fewer journey - and no evening service at all after the 18.15 Wycombe to Reading
and 19.45 return. The Sunday service through to Reading remains but again no evening service. This seems more savage than the modest evening cutbacks elsewhere in the area.
I found this timetable last night but today I couldn't get it initially, don't go via "The Shires" but via "South East". 
I don't think this timetable is going to happen anyway, it is now reported that there will be a reduced evening service on 800/850 from Wycombe to Henley from May.
Pete Cabin writes "an unusual bus was working in High Wycombe today (Thursday 1st April) was Hemel based 3171, P671OPP branded for routes 4 & 5. I wonder what was it doing
on green route 31? I've no idea since it's still got Hemel blinds installed. Could it be a loan job?"

!Today (Saturday 23rd April) seen in High Wycombe was 3179 P179SRO operating on service 37 to Maidenhead. It has an electronic destination installed but not programmed for High Wycombe routes. So, the usual paper sticker was stuck to the windscreen!"

"Up at the Cressex garage in the back row were 3147 N697EUR and 3158 N708EUR which might explain the use of 3171 P671OPP and the above Dart 3179, which was based in the MK area."

Andrew Morgan writes "here are some pictures of Stevenage based Dart 3498 showing its new branding for route SB6 (renumbered from 14) plus Stevenage coach 4361 in Welwyn Garden City bus station on route 301".


Gavin Francis writes with sightings of Arriva vehicles recently.


Arriva 4367 (the coach repainted into interurban livery was on the 280 yesterday, then at Wycombe 5162 the Arriva Midlands Olympian was on the PR1. At Luton one of the local red Darts from Aylesbury was on the 61. Regrettably no chance of pictures. 

On the 40 today (28th) were 3703 again! and 3822, so no Solos on the 40.

Variety on the 757 by Andrew Webb

Slightly bizarre as 5453 came from Hemel and would have appeared on the 500 and then a 280 branded Trident is on the 500!!!
Pictures by Gavin Francis

Variety in Stokenchurch - Pictures by Gavin Francis

This bus has certainly got around lately having been seen in High Wycombe, Aylesbury, now Luton Airport and of course Hemel.
Pictures by Gavin Francis

Work proceeds apace on the airport 757 fleet which are gaining a revised livery as seen.
Pictures by Gavin Francis

Very first sight of the relivered Green Line coaches on the 757 when 4372 turned up in Buckingham Palace road on April 14th 2011.
Pictures by Malcolm Crowe. 


Nothing to report in this issue.

Steve Warwick

More rail replacement work using 4078NU seen at Aylesbury by Steve Warwick.

Above pictures from Hedley Shanks of Motts.

Mullany's of Watford

Mark Turner writes "I have attached  a picture of Mullany's Buses Solo NSM662 in Watford Town Centre taken on 18/4/11."

Picture 0568 is a new route for the company which it took over the route from Red Rose Travel, starting the route from 28/3/11 & Picture 0566 is of another route that has been with the company since early 2010 and is doing very well."





New coaches have been delivered to Edwards for the 509. Seen in Bulleid Way, London on 6th May.

Above pictures from Gavin Francis

Stagecoach's Elite 53703 on a 737 working at Stokenchurch

Another Royal Wedding coach, NEx Classic 8929 FJ08KMA 140411 G Francis

Now I wonder what happened to SC Kent's Scanias? Kings Ferry filling in on a 007 service to Dover on May 6th!

Chalfont seem only to have one coach in National Express livery for their share of the 509 and often use their own liveried coaches.

This Spanish company operates many of the Eurolines services including Amsterdam and Paris from London.

Above pictures from Gavin Francis

The expected Hybrid E400s for the Park & Ride service have begun to arrive and the first three or four entered service during the week of 25th May following type training for the drivers.

The first pictures noted were from Daniel Morris and are included on the link below. I think they were taken as 301 was ready to leave Alexander's in Falkirk, Scotland.


Derek O’Connor noted that the first seven buses had arrived by April 28th. 

302 - HB11 OXF

303 - HC11 OXF

304 - HD11 OXF

305 - HE11 OXF

306 - HF11 OXF

307 - HG11 OXF

The new P&R specification includes two information screens, one upstairs and one downstairs, as on the "Brookesbuses" to display advertisements and information.

These new hybrid double-deckers for P&R have a revised layout with a wheelchair space on the near side of the bus and three tip-up seats across a buggy space on the off-side. Over the next few months all Citaros (800's) and Scania double-deckers (200's) will have their seating converted to this configuration.

Derek adds that 308 & 309 have arrived at the garage by 29th April.

Mike Bennett sent a report and the pictures included below. 

302 in Oxford, High St at Queens Lane passing 306 on type training on May 6th.
Picture by Mike Bennett

Having seen only one of the new ADL Enviro400 hybrids in the centre of Oxford on April 21st on driver training duties, I was a bit surprised to find at least 3 in service on April 28th. I had intended to go out along the Iffley Road to photograph the last days of the OBC route 4/A/B/C buses on the service to Rose Hill, but I just had to try and ride on the new hybrids and get some more photos.

I started in High Street by Queens Lane where OBC 306 was waiting between sessions of driving instruction. Hybrid 302 appeared, and after photographing the two together, I caught it to go to Seacourt P&R. After some more photos, I waited for the next service to arrive, this being old Trident 109, making an interesting view during its last days on these duties. Next to arrive was hybrid 301, on which I rode right through to Thornhill, followed by a quick ride back to Headington Shops in time to see 303 passing on its way into the city. It dwelt long enough at the stop for me to jump on for the ride back to Queens Lane.
Some time later I saw OBC 101 on Magdalen Bridge, also on route 400, so the hybrids did not have the route all to themselves that day. After walking the length of High Street my final view of the day was of 302 at Carfax Corner. The four green single-deck P&R buses were not seen at all during the day, or on Saturday 30th - so have they been withdrawn already ?

A feast of the new buses by Mike Bennett.

The old order has not much longer to run by Mike Bennett.

Alex Horwood writes "I was in oxford today (21/4/2011) and managed to catch up with one of the new Hybrids. I managed to get a photo but it isn't the best of photos as it was taken from the X32 (on my phone) leaving Oxford, on my way home."

Picture by Alex Horwood.

John Hammond has been busy recording the new arrivals.

Pictures of the new Oxford Bus Co hybrid Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 fleet in service today (27th April).

12.jpg - 303 HC11 OXF at Queens Lane

19.jpg - distance shot showing 302, 304 and 306 at Queens Lane.


Other items of interest.

Citaro 844 on the 4A to Rose Hill.
From May 8th this route is split up with the Iffley Road-City section operating separately as a 3A service.

B10BLE 815 on the 15 road.
15 also goes from May 8th with the City-Wood Farm section being linked in with the Botley part of the 4 road.

Some more pictures of on their first days in Service from Gavin Francis. 

In spite of their impending removal from P&R service 115 has gained a new super rear for the Ashmolean.

Graham Low writes "Here are a couple of views of a new COMS ADL E400H at Seacourt today and also new vinyls on a Scania on route 5, also taken today."


Jay Houlden writes "HB11 OXF on the 400 today (03/05/11), photographed outside Oxford Brookes University"


Richard Sharman sent pictures of then new Park & Ride buses. The one of the interior is of special interest.


With the entry into service of the first Hybrids  green liveried Volvos 790 and 791 have returned off loan to Brighton. These buses were upgraded to DDA compliance by Oxford whilst on loan.

820 and 821 have already left for the North East and pictures of these in their new home would be appreciated.

More pictures from readers are included below.

Queen's college always makes for an impressive backdrop to any pictures of Oxford.
Oxford Bus company's Airline and espress services feature in this scene from Richard Sharman taken on April 23rd.

A new style of branding is being applied to the Scania city deckers.
vivacity was captured by Richard Sharman in late April

Other "names" used are centricity and capacity. Above pictures by Gavin Francis.

More views of the new E400H's. Above pictures by Gavin Francis. 

Enviro 400 comparison, one is Scania the other ADL. Above picture by Gavin Francis.

Last days of the old stalwarts. Above pictures by Malcolm Crowe.

The first batch of the Enviro 400s included 208 seen here on a U1 working on Queens Street, Oxford. Picture by Richard Sharman.


A nice picture of 50223 which I took to Duxford when new 18months ago. Picture by Andrew Webb.

It is noted that 33822 has been in service at Banbury depot.

On Thursday, 28th April and due to an accident at Barnard Gate a Solo, 47450, was in use on the S1. The route was diverted by North Leigh and Cuckoo Lane.

Former Oxford Tube on e-bay by John Hammond

Marcus Lapthorn writes "I was very impressed with the efficient manner with which Stagecoach Swindon dealt with two incidents today - Friday 8 April.

When I caught the 0930 route 66 bus from Faringdon to Swindon, it was on an old Dart -33928. Upon arrival in Swindon I noticed that one of the 66 route MAN's was coming down towards the bus station form the direction of the Stagecoach garage, showing 'out of service'. I guessed that maybe the MAN was going to replace the Dart for the next trip back to Oxford. Upon arrival at the bus station and prior to parking up, both buses were stopped by a high vis clad supervisor. She took the running card off the driver of 33928 and gave it to the following driver of bus no. 22621. My bus then parked up in the 55 route bay where there was a lengthy queue, for the bus to Chippenham. The destination blind of 33928 was very quickly changed to show 55 route - Chippenham. Apparently a 55 route bus inbound to Swindon from Chippenham had broken down at Wooton Basset and quick thinking resulted in 33928 setting off for Chippenham within just minutes after having arrived from Oxford!

The reason why an old Dart had been pushed into service on the 66 route, was that the night before when 22621 was being moved around the garage yard, the fueller had reversed the bus into another causing rear end damage to 22621. This was repaired in the first hours of duty on Friday and the bus was fit for service by 10.00hrs.

Well done Stagecoach Swindon - very efficiently done."

Luke Brown writes "A bit of news from the Swindon side of things if you wish to include it in the next OCBP. Darts 34884 and 34885 (VU06JBX and VU06JBY) have been un-branded from route 54, due to the withdrawal of this service.

Two of the three Enviro200’s have recently been branded (at last!) for Swindon Town Route 6, namely 36126 (VX10COA) and 36127 (VX10COH).

I understand that Swindon are still having problems with the MAN’s for the 66. On Monday, 22626 was having engineers attending to the fans at the back of the bus, in Swindon Bus Station. As a consequence, Trident 18177 (MX04XFV) was sent to replace the crippled bus. After some work on it, 22626 returned to work on Swindon Town Service 7 in the late afternoon. One wonders what the future will be for these poor MAN’s – as they don’t seem to be coping well on the longer distance routes!

Keep up the fantastic work with the OCBP, it really is a credit to yourself."

Ralph Adams writes "The reason for complete absence of 22620-26 in early March was due to the road works near Gloucester Green. With the length of this batch and the road works, two of the MAN buses were damaged on the underside. Shorter buses were able to pass without damage to the vehicles so an exchange of the MANs to local services and other vehicles to route 66 was made. The comment about the Double deck around Appleton should not have cause any problems on the roads as it is shorter than the normal buses although there would be the potential problem of trees. As double decks are regular on the early bus via Appleton as on its return it goes via New College and apparently loadings require a larger bus, the trees are presumably high enough to avoid problems. At the time of Cheltenham races, the 51/151 service operates with double decks instead of the normal Volvo B10M so allocation on these days on all services is flexible."

The County Council have announced the changes starting in June. Details at:


Edit Draft East Midlands Trains on Coaches!

Jamie Vendy writes "Fresh from Saturday night Malcolm, I scooped four shots of the newly repainted Volvo B10M Plaxton Premieres at Lincoln depot wearing full East Midlands Trains Livery and now with ticket machines removed. I presume these are to be allocated to the Rail Pool similar to South West trains with their old ex HK Olympians but wearing 'Stagecoach in Lincolnshire' writing on each side.


One for the page on your next installment is ex Oxford Tube T58 BBW seen here at Carlton High School restricted to Private Hires/School Work seen with Abbey Coachways of Carlton.


One of the 10 plate Astromegas on its way to Manchester. Above picture by Gavin Francis.

Sullivan buses

Andrew Morgan writes "On Good Friday Sullivan Buses ran three Routemasters (RM1069, RML2272 and RML2428) on route 330 along with two single deckers to a none school day timetable.

I am pleased to send a series of pictures taken on the day when the following Sullivan Buses Routemasters were used":





Pictures by Andrew Morgan.

Stuart Curwen writes "Thamesdown's second Trident is ready for service the former Metroline vehicle (TA116) V316GLB will hopefully enter service on Tuesday 3rd May."


Picture by Gavin Francis

Walters Limousines

Ralph Adams

The X88 to Silverstone at 11.45 from Oxford on Saturday 30th April was operated by Toyota Coaster N60TGM - Walters Limos.

 Only an 18 seat bus but probably sufficient as the only person on board was the driver.

 The service is supported by Northants CC who are withdrawing all bus support so the route will probably be withdrawn.

It is a pity the through service to Northampton is no longer available with no guaranteed connection.


Ensignbus sells City Sightseeing

Ensignbus has sold 100% of its share capital in City Sightseeing Ltd to City Sightseeing Worldwide SL of Spain, for an undisclosed amount.

City Sightseeing Worldwide is owned by Enrique Ybarra, co-founder and operator of all the City Sightseeing franchises in Spain, operating over 50 buses and carrying over three million passengers per year in 10 locations. The original operation in Seville was the very first City Sightseeing branded location anywhere in the world.

Today City Sightseeing operates in 94 locations worldwide and will, in 2011 break the 100 city mark, making it the largest open top sightseeing business in the world.

Director of Sales and Marketing, Mandy Gaughan and the UK based staff have all transferred with the deal, whilst Ensignbus has retained its City Sightseeing Sydney operation, its interest in City Sightseeing Italy and increased its share holding in the City Sightseeing Washington DC operation.

Peter Newman Chairman of Ensign Bus says: “It is time for new people with fresh and innovative ideas to take it even further and cement its position as the number one sightseeing brand. It is very fitting that our first partner, Enrique Ybarra and his team are now taking over the reins and we truly wish them all the success in the world.”

NX Interim shareholders` statement:

UK Coach

Revenue growth in UK Coach was 3%. Growth of 6% in the core express network reflected both improving yield and strong passenger journey demand, with only Stansted airport traffic weaker. This good progress was supported by rising customer satisfaction. Targeted service and marketing investment, alongside the roll out of tracking technology to all services, supported margin improvement during this seasonally quieter quarter. The overall level of rail replacement and airport contract business was lower than prior year. Coach demand has remained firm over the extended Easter holiday period.

CC ‘looks for more competition’

The Competition Commission (CC) says it “is looking at ways to open up more bus markets across the country” after concluding that “too many operators face little or no competition in local areas.”

It follows 17 months of investigations into local bus services (excluding the regulated London and Northern Ireland markets)

Publishing its summary of provisional findings this morning (Friday), it says that although there are 1,245 bus operators, the “great majority of routes and local areas” experience a high degree of concentration and “the largest operator has consistently faced little or no competition,”

The CC also concludes that the way local authorities tender for supported services, and the limited number of potential bidders, can restrict competition and increase cost.

The CC will now consult “on measures to open up more markets by tackling the factors which can hinder competition.”

It will also “seek views on whether Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) should take measures to encourage competition,” including whether franchising might be required in cases where there has been a “particularly marked failure of competition.”

However, the CC’s proposed “remedies to address competition problems” fall short of divestment, and it accepts that head-to-head competition is generally destructive and results in the exit of one company.

Instead, its proposed “remedies” include:

• Measures to increase the number of multi-operator ticket schemes and ensure that these are effective and attractive

• Restrictions on aggressive behaviour, such as ‘overbussing’ and other obstructive behaviour aimed at reducing a rival’s ability to compete

• Ensuring fair access to privately-owned and managed bus stations for all operators

• Recommendations to LTAs on the circumstances in which to pursue Quality Contracts, or franchising, in areas most affected by lack of competition

• Recommendations to LTAs on how to use other powers (e.g. Quality Partnerships) to promote competition or “improve outcomes to local consumers”

• Recommendations to the DfT to update its best practice guidance on supported services; to the Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly to develop “suitably tailored guidance” and to LTAs to follow this guidance, to increase the number of operators bidding

• Measures to make more information available to LTAs and potential bidders about the performance of supported services 


Marcus Lapthorn draws our attention to the following news link regarding the Cambridge Busway. 


UK Coach Rally

John Marsh attended the coach rally at Peterborough and sent a number of interesting pictures.

Nice coaches and smart ladies at Peterborough. Above pictures © by John Marsh

Blackpool update by Geoff Cunliffe

Well, the Blackpool’s trams are back – sort of….

Some of Blackpool’s remaining, traditional trams returned to the Promenade on Good Friday, starting their 126th – and last – year of operation. They will

work until the end of the Illuminations on Sunday 6th November when the existing system will close for ever. After the winter period of infrastructure modification, Easter 2012 will see a new, light rail service with 16 brand new Bombardier trams running a frequent and all-year round service between their new depot at Starr Gate and the Fleetwood Ferry.

This year’s start, on Good Friday, was a rather muted affair with cars only running between the Pleasure Beach and Talbot Square. Furthermore, passengers were unable to board or leave the trams in front of the Tower because of on-going building work there According to the local paper, it is hoped to extend the service to either Cabin or Bispham – the local paper seems to be sadly lacking in precise local geographical knowledge – in about a week. Presumably track works north of Talbot Square have overrun slightly.

Further sections will open progressively until cars can (hopefully) run through to Ash Street, Fleetwood. The BBC web page reporting the reopening shows a tram, with Bispham optimistically on its blind -, clearly an old photograph!

Local hoteliers in particular have welcomed the return of the trams because the massively disruptive road works associated with the trams and Tower redevelopment mean they have advised customers to leave their cars elsewhere and use the public transport.

There is still talk that the “heritage” fleet will operate in between the new cars, although it is not clear how this will be possible given the difference in performance. True the new cars will not perform to their maximum potential on the main Promenade, but once north of Talbot Square and on semi-reserved track, there will be the opportunity for them to out-perform their 75 years old companions. Another factor is their dwell times at stops, with the new units having multiple entrance doors whereas boarding can take much longer on some of the older cars.

2011 will be a year of tramway operation which will evoke many adjectives – just how excited or nostalgic you are will govern your choice.

I went up to Blackpool this afternoon (Saturday), a dull and chilly afternoon which was quite quiet at the south end of the town. I found nine cars in service which is more than should be required to maintain the simple 15 minute service between the Pleasure Beach and Talbot Square. They were, presumably, stacked at the Pleasure Beach turning loop. I saw Balloons 711, 715, 717, 719, & 723; Jubilee class 762; Centenary cars 646 & 648, and open boat 600.

I attach a set of photographs which shows that at least 648 & 762 have acquired new liveries over the winter – to enhance their second hand values at the end of the season, one wonders? It is rumoured 648 is to go to Crich. All were photographed at Manchester Square, and the photograph of open boat 600 shows it southbound emerging from the temporary 4mph speed limit by the construction of the new, elevated loading platforms at this location. The strange crocodile sat on the trolley base is part of the illuminations – there is one at each streetlamp round here.


All pictures © by Geoff Cunliffe.

Malta again

172 King Long buses arrive in Malta 

King Long bus at port

Arriva's Managing Director in Malta, Keith Bastow, was at Laboratory Wharf in Lower Corradino recently to welcome 172 King Long buses to Malta. The buses will form part of Arriva's fleet, delivering the new bus services for customers from 3 July, 2011.

Keith Bastow said, "The vision of the Maltese government and Transport Malta is for a 21st century public transport system. Arriva and our consortium partners, the Tumas Group, and suppliers such as King Long, have the skills and expertise to make that vision a reality. It is my honour to be here today to take delivery of these buses and we look forward to them entering service in July."

When Arriva won the 10-year contract to operate public transport services in Malta and Gozo, it committed to replacing a large part of the island's ageing bus fleet to greatly improve passenger comfort and reduce the environmental impact of transport in Malta.

All buses are diesel low-floor vehicles providing easy access, and will feature Euro V engines, air-conditioning, comfortable seating, and Real Time Passenger Information displays, including next scheduled stop announcements.

Of the 172 new King Long buses, 48 are 9-metre buses and 124 are 12-metre buses. A further two King Long buses, one 9-metre and one 12-metre bus, were already in Malta for use with route testing and driver training.

The 12-metre buses will mostly operate on main-line services. The 9-metre buses will be used on feeder services throughout the islands, providing links to the urban centres of towns and villages.

When Arriva starts operating in Malta on 3 July, 2011, 66 per cent of the fleet in Malta will be King Long buses.

The buses left China after a ceremony held at the port in Xiamen at the beginning of April, held by the bus manufacturer Xiamen King Long United Automotive Industry Co. Ltd (King Long), and attended by Arriva's Keith Bastow, Transport Minister Austin Gatt and a delegation from the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications, and Transport Malta.

Mr Bastow said at the ceremony, "When considering bus suppliers for the Malta contract, we thought of King Long. In recent years King Long has developed as a bus manufacturer and I have been impressed by their hard work and commitment to improvement.

"King Long has earned a good reputation for quality, design and customer service within the international bus industry. I believe that King Long have demonstrated they have the high quality manufacturing standards to produce vehicles to deliver upon these requirements for this important contract."

Low price offer for Oxford Citaro model

John Marsh writes " Thought your readers might be interested to know that Hattons are currently offering Creative Master Northcord UKBUS 5007 OBC Citaro Rigid (X13OXF) for the princely sum of £6 plus a couple of pounds postage. Seems like a bargain to me!"


Andrew Webb visits Victoria Bus Station, finding it deserted on Monday 11th April 

A visit to Victoria on 11 April to photograph the new Uno 712 yielded a most unexpected sight, Victoria Bus Station was devoid of any buses at 10:15am as the accompanying photograph shows. The cause of this being two young women who has erected a protest banner in Grosvenor Place and climbed to the top of it in an attempt to persuade us not to buy energy from EDF (I wasn't persuaded), whilst 12+ Police officers stood and watched.

Traffic chaos ensued around Marble Arch and back along Park Lane, most TfL services turning short at Marble Arch. Oxford Tube services were finding a way around the disruption, as seen by Van Hool 50223 on Buckingham Palace Road. First's Greenline 702 emerged from a side street and then went through Victoria bus station to find a way to its usual stop. First's Wright Scania 65621, itself an unusual visitor to the route, is seen in the unusual location of Victoria Bus station.

No sign of Uno's 712 in all of this chaos.

After being thwarted by protesters in Grosvenor Place on 11 April a repeat visit to Victoria on 14 April captured Scania Omnilink 353 swinging into Eccleston Bridge at the end of its journey from Hatfield.

Also present was Arriva's Van Hool 4374 showing off the hybrid Green Line / Easybus livery, behind which were 4372 and 4386 neatly illustrating the three different liveries to be found on route 757.

Premium Tours are running Routemasters on London sightseeing tours for Harrods. RML2621 and RM1979 have been repainted into Harrods livery and are seen at the London Eye photostop.

Plus one to Southampton

Xelabus are the latest company to have a go at running an open top tour of Southampton, starting on 14 May. Former Lothian Olympian F357WSC has been converted and branded to operate the service and appeared in Southampton on 13 April, seen here outside the Guildhall.

Go Ahead Wilts and Dorset's service 56 / 56A linking Southampton and Lymington has recently become part of fellow Go Ahead Solent Blue Line's Bluestar 6 and is worked jointly by both companies. Wilts and Dorset have repainted some Spectras into Bluestar livery to operate their share of the the service, illustrated here by 3163 laying over in Southampton.

Faringdon U3A Strollers Group by Marcus Lapthorn

On Thursday 7 April the Faringdon U3A Strollers Group used the Thursdays only bus service 113 from Faringdon to Fulbrook. We had a good attendance of 12, which I am told is double the normal number! After arrival at Fulbrook we then walked back to Burford via the Windrush valley, lunched in Burford and then caught the bus back to Faringdon. It was pleasing to see some young mothers and their babies on the bus with us and they alighted at the Cotswold Wildlife Park. The weather was outstanding and a pleasant time was had by all.

A few days in Cornwall by Marcus Lapthorn

I spent a few days in Cornwall and thought these shots may be of interest to your readers.

All shots are in Truro except for three which were taken in Newquay.

Shot 237 is of the specially adapted single decker which now has the extra deck from a double decker added on. (Taken on 1 April of course)

Shot 242 is of the specially liveried Lifeboat bus.


All above pictures taken by Marcus Lapthorn showing how interesting a visit can be to Cornwall.

Leamington Spa and Banbury with Marcus Lapthorn

I visited Leamington Spa on Saturday 23 April and have attached a number of shots for your readers interest.

Photos 267, 268 & 271 were long distance shots from within the yellow pedestrian walkway.

Photo 269 was taken from the first floor of the Stagecoach office block.


I visited Banbury on Saturday 23 April. There seemed to be much more bus activity outside of the bus station than within it!

Newark & Southwell by John Marsh

An interesting day out to Newark & Southwell on 18 4 11. Newark still retains some character architecturally and environmentally and, on the bus front, Centrebus, Marshalls, Premiere and Travel Wright provided variety from the ubiquitous Stagecoach, although even their MPDs look quite cute!

Southwell, with its magnificent Minster, had a regular supply of Nottingham Optares. Oh! and more offerings from Stagecoach!

 Above pictures © by John Marsh

With Andrew Webb in Reading and Bournemouth

Reading Buses has just reorganised its service to Coley Park, relaunching it as "Bronze 11" Wright Scania 1006 shows off the new livery at Reading Station on 20 April.

Another route in the news in Reading is Route 1 to Newbury. After a period of operation by Weavaway using Reading vehicles new Enviro 400 Tridents have been introduced by Weavaway. Built to a high specification and finished in a striking black livery the route has been rebranded as "Jet Black". The route is notable in that despite the vehicles and route being operated by Weavaway it remains part of Reading Buses network, as illustrated by 1204 passing Reading Station on 20 April.

Just visible in the background of both of these pictures is the beginning of work that the local council has commenced to improve the bus stops outside of Reading Station. This means that the many bus stops in front of the station are currently largely unused. 

Discover Dorset have reintroduced the City Sightseeing tour to Bournemouth for the 2011 season, linking Bournemouth with Poole and Christchurch. Carrying on a long tradition the service is number 12, although this is not carried on vehicles. Two former Lothian Olympians operate the service, E312MSG in Exeter Road on 20 April being one example.

Yellow Buses are now part of the RATP group. East Lancs Volvo 418 shows off the new branding that is being applied rapidly to the fleet.

An entry for Buses in the Landscape. Looking from Exeter Road across the gardens to Gervis Place where Yellow Buses East Lancs Volvo 418 loads for its next journey, whilst Wilts and Dorset Optare Scania 402 in Purbeck Breezer livery awaits time before heading a full load off to Swanage.

History & Discussion

Cambridge Coach Services

Jim Neale writes "I have followed your column with interest for some time, as it relates to an area I was familiar with while driving the service 75 between Cambridge and Oxford for Cambridge Coach Services.

There have been several references to CCS over the years, and I think they were well regarded on the route, particularly between High Wycombe and Oxford.

When Airlinks took over in 1999, the local stops were removed, and we were told to use the M40, but I have seen photos posted of the new NX Elites in Stokenchurch, so wonder if some of the old stops have been reinstated, or just that with your local knowledge, you have found it quicker than the M40, at times, as we did!

For some time I have been gathering material on CCS, with the intention of publishing a book. Yes, I know the company only existed for 10 years, but there is scope for overlap both before in the latter days of Premier Travel, which lead to the formation of CCS, and the following days with Airlinks into National Express and the closing of Cambridge Depot in 2005.

I would like to make 2 appeals to your readers, firstly does anyone have any memories of CCS MD Ian Roberts when he worked at Oxford? I am anxious to trace his background, as without his experience and determination, CCS would never have existed. Secondly, does anyone have good quality colour photos of CCS vehicles in service, particularly along the 75 route? 

CCS route commenced on 24/4/1992, so any photos between then and when Airlinks took over on 30/9/1999 would be welcome.

At the moment I am collecting as much material as possible to choose from, so low resolution would be fine, so either email attachments or loan of print, but possible need to re-scan prints at a higher resolution for those that are published.

I bet you would not want all the stops between Wycombe and Stokenchurch that CCS served? I recall running very late at times, loading pushchairs and shopping trolleys into side lockers for people who used 75 as a local bus service."

Any offers of help, please email me at j.nealeneale@btinternet.com

Chiltern Queens - from an old employee, Jack Passey

Jack Passey, an old employee of Chiltern Queens, who worked in the workshop for 45 years would like to correct an item of the AEC Reliance, LMO743, had its original body and was not rebodied.

Jack says "The body mentioned of the DENNIS PELICAN is in Oxford Bus Museum on completely different AEC chassis. I don't know if it is still at OXFORD but I am sure the information is correct."

If anyone has more information please let us know. 

David Allen writes "....just back from holiday in Germany. I popped out of station in Frankfurt and found this "original London Routemaster" (ahem!) on sightseeing duty.

Didn't see you at Cobham(!) open day but took some pics you might like."


Angus Munday writes "I was Motts Yellow bus first manager. One of the original cores of the M1 service was the contract between Watlington and Reading Station which was 4 services a day with no Sunday service. This contract was won from Chiltern Queens if my memory serves but this was in 1991 so I may be mistaken. I was sorry to be told that the service was now finishing after 20 years and one of the original drivers employed to run it is retiring.

I have now semi-retired to the Highlands of Scotland and work part time for Stagecoach but still keep up with the goings on in the Chilterns where I spent getting on for 20 years in the bus and coach industry."

With the demise of the Motts service from Stokenchurch to reading, now to start at Watlington and be run by Whites of Culham these comments are most welcome from Alex. 

Those Leyland Royal Tiger Cubs again

Don Hilton, who I met a Dunsfold, writes "Sorry for the delay in replying , but i have been spending some time at the BCVM.
The Tiger Cubs were built in 1958, and the first Leopards that were badged as Royal Tigers were built in 1959. I checked all of the chassis build sheets for the Stratford Cubs, but none were ever built with 0600 engines. I have spoken to quite a few colleagues ref this query, but no body remembers them with different badging. Sorry but that's as far as I can get."

Upcoming events

Marcus Lapthorn writes "A hundred years of the 'Tracco' will be celebrated on Sunday 27 May 2012, which will be an Aldershot & District running day. The event will be held at the Farnborough International Air show site."

Latest PSV Circle fleet list for Berks & Oxon now on sale

News PSV Circle Fleet Lists for Berks & Oxon

The latest issue of the PSV Circle fleet list for Berks & Oxon has landed on my desk courtesy Ken Mackenzie, our local Editor of this publication.

It is most impressive, with colour photographs of excellent quality and fleet lists covering many aspects of PSV operation in the two counties.

At £9.00 I must recommend this book to readers who will find it most useful.

It can be obtained from the PSV Circle at Unit 1R, Leroy house, 436 Essex Road, London N1 3QP or via their web site at psv-circle.org.uk

That's all for now Folks