The first page of 2019 and heading for our 21st anniversary, which has given me many hours of pleasure and I hope this has been the same for my readers?

A nice touch, Edwards Llantwit Fardre BV67JYE with New Year greetings seen in Bulleid Way on December 31st by Gavin Francis.
Gavin was working extra return trips from London to Oxford on New Year's Eve.

Reading and listening to various parts of the media I gathered some items in the piece below which may give some moments of thought to readers.

Bus versus train related to usage and fares

Rail fares have increased this year of 3.1%, in fact the overall cost of commuting by train has risen by a staggering 45% since 2010. However it is suggested that bus passengers have had it just as tough.

According to the Government’s National Travel Survey published last year, the number of journeys taken by bus, which excluding London buses and the Tube, the average person travelled by bus 37 times in 2017 and only 21 times by rail. Overall, 6% of all journeys were by bus, compared with just 2% by train.

Research suggests rail travel is mainly concentrated in London and the South East, with rural communities in particular heavily reliant on bus travel. A study by polling agency YouGov showed that 39% of people did not set foot on a train in the past 12 months, with most making fewer than two journeys.

The Campaign for Better Transport revealed in October that government funding for buses, which is largely provided by local authorities, fell by more than
£20m in 2017-18 alone.

It is said that bus services are the backbone of local public transport systems and are vital for the economy, to get people into work or school and to access essential services.

More bus services are under threat from cuts to funding, which is leading to withdrawal of services or increased fares, and are the only form of transport without a national investment strategy. The Government should realise the importance of bus services and do more to help support the local public transport networks serving urban and rural communities alike. The first step would be to have a coherent policy to support buses.

After the rail fare increases, which came into force on Wednesday, commuters are paying more than £800 a year extra for their season tickets compared with 2010. It is difficult to make comparisons with buses, as prices are set regionally.

So it is in the subject of our interest that local fares are interesting since the costs of travelling by coach to and from London have reduced significantly in recent times to give greater competition to the train!

All matters for consideration in these cost sensitive times.

As a further development :- 

Taxi sharing could replace bus routes

SUBSIDISED, pooled taxi services that are part of a wider public transport network should replace lost bus routes in rural areas, a report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) says. It says new technology will enable private hire vehicles to offer shared transport for small groups of people.

The report calls for changes to enable taxis to play a greater role in public transport, including “simplification of the legislation and removal of the distinction between Hackney carriage and private hire vehicles”.

Darren Shirley, CBT’s chief executive,
said constrained budgets meant that councils needed to work more closely on transport with schools, hospitals and communities. He commented, "The answer won’t always be subsiding a bus. It might be making sure a school bus turns into a public bus after 9am, and using online technology to help people find lift shares or taxi shares. Ruralpublic transport is in crisis. Bus cuts and shrinking transport networks are making it harder for people to get to work or school, to visit friends and family, or access shops and services, as well as putting extra pressure on our congested roads."

Now, a great idea on paper but one of the fundamental reasons behind "use the bus" is to reduce congestion on the roads. Surely using the bus is the right way to go, or should we all be walking or cycling?

Read about success of Didcot Night Bus

Link to Oxford Mail article

And now, the old and the new!

A colourful UCOC Bristol VR from Tony Bungay

Tony Bungay sent some nice pictures of Bristol VRs from some many years ago. Tony writes :

A bit weird this, when tidying up my e-mails discovered this in drafts folder, as from date shown it is a few months old! Not certain whether I sent this or for some reason it never went to you!

Buses of many colours 

Thought these may be of interest for the historical bit, essentially its United Counties Bristol VR  800, not in order on attachments, first shot of 800 taken  at Milton Keynes in 1983 carry United Counties sixtieth anniversary colour scheme. Same bus in Milton Keynes in summer 1986 in Milton Keynes City Bus livery, which was short lived as after deregulation that year the company disposed of many full size buses in favour of minibuses, this bus was sold to Luton and District of where it is seen in Luton the following year. The bus later received the school bus livery of which the photo of 804 shows.

800 taken  at Milton Keynes in 1983 carry United Counties sixtieth anniversary colour scheme.

Same bus in Milton Keynes in summer 1986 in Milton Keynes City Bus livery.

Luton and District of where it is seen in Luton the following year.

 The bus later received the school bus livery of which this photo of 804 shows.

Many thanks to Tony for those interesting and indeed colourful pictures. Also I think these four pictures of the same or similar bus show, clean wheels maketh the bus, dirty wheels look awaful!

Electric buses in Guildford

Gavin Francis spent a day in Guildford, January 7th 2019, looking at the new Stagecoach electric buses and sent pictures and comments on one of the first electric moves in provincial transport. These nine electric ADL Enviro 200EV 10.8 metre long saloons are for the Guildford Park & Ride services. They have been allocated fleet numbers 29101-09. The carry standard Stagecoach livery with ‘Guildford electrics’ and ‘glide park&ride’ branding. The buses have a range of 150 miles and will be recharged each evening.

Gavin has provided these buses on each of the four routes in Guildford and comments that they are quiet and comfortable except for a few rattles.

Stagecoach South 29106 with the 100 Guildford - Spectrum Leisure Centre. The interior is rather striking!

Stagecoach South 29101 with the 400, 29102 with the 200 and 29108 with another 400 all Guildford Bus Station.

These new buses will hopefully encourage people to use the Park & Ride, which Gavin certainly did.
However of interest is that Gavin had to use his Stagecoach Staff Pass as Concession Pass Holders are charged £1, which puzzled me as he was outside peak hour travel?

It would appear, that for some reason, one of the buses in use on the 200 was this elderly Dart, 34417, seen in Guildford Bus Station.

Some more pictures taken in Guildford can be seen under Stagecoach below and more including the independent operators will be included in next week's issue.

Fleet News Reports and pictures

From Nick Ross

Arriva 280 branded Enviro 5459 at High Wycombe bus station on January 2nd, this unusual visitor having a day on X30/300 turns for a change of scene.

Seen in The Eden Bus Station, High Wycombe E400 5459 YY14WFT with a 300 working on January 2nd 2019 by Nick Ross.

One of the Arriva green and blue StreetLites was on the 32 route last Saturday morning, January 6th. It was gone before I could focus my camera, sad!

Some pictures from Arriva in Guildford taken by Gavin Francis on January 7th are included below.

E200 MMC 4088 YX17NYA working route A in Guildford Bus Station.

Optare Versa 4200 working route 53 from Guildford Bus Station to Cranleigh.

More Arriva Guildford pictures next week.

Report from Phil Southall, MD of The Oxford Group.

I am pleased to include comments from Phil which  answer various questions raised.

Citaro 837 has been disposed of to a private buyer. It suffered a mechanical defect and we therefore chose to dispose of it rather than repair. 

PMU 978 is at Carousel on loan at the moment and will be for the foreseeable future. It will return to Oxford eventually. 

There are no plans to take 222, 877 or 878 out of Carousel at the moment but we have left them 'bare' for flexibility should we wish to do so. 

602 has not yet been wrapped in Chiltern colours. It will be soon but there has been a delay for some reason.

41 to 44 are parked up at of use at various Oxford Bus Group premises. - 42 has not gone to Plymouth, this was an erroneous report. Ed.

45 and 46 are still in service (although 45 has been VOR but should be back soon)

Scania 222 mentioned above by Phil Southall with a 35 working leaves The Eden Bus Station on December 27th by Malcolm Crowe.

Ralph Adams notes that Citaro 837, last seen by Ralph in May 2018, apparently had mechanical problems and has been disposed of to a private buyer. This just leaves 838 (in Pick me up livery) surviving of the first two batches of Citaros.

870 (Animal) still has TT logo on the front plus TT details on the side. Ralph could not see any clear operator details on the side for COMS (previous details slightly visible under TT details)  although in use on route 6. It did have a COMS disc.

Thames Travel legals on 870 whilst working Oxford City routes. Ralph Adams.

969, the brown PICKMEUP is back on Oxford duties. 977 also seen today. It looks the same length as 971-6 but the earlier batch were reported as 18 seat whilst 977/8 are noted as 15 seats. Difficult to see as they have no specific stopping places for a visual inspection.

The X90 coaches have new advertising on the rear promoting the service. It appears that COMS are trying hard to encourage use of these coaches whilst taking money from Chiltern trains (Arriva) for advertisements of their fast rail service to London. This is as bad as times past with advertising for driving schools on the buses – pass your driving test with us and save having to wait for a bus.

From Jack Cooper

Today 604 was on the X3. 

See attached pictures. In the third picture the screen is telling us we are on a BROOKESbus service, but it was the X3 service I was on!


Scania 214 is still in daily service in its red livery. The comment from a driver about it being prepared for repainting has not yet occurred.

From Mark Doggett

Roger Mott last week, he informed that he has ordered two tri-axle Tourismos for the Crusader fleet for March delivery. I assume they will registered UK & GB19CRU . Being the first of the new shape models for Crusader, they should look very smart.

I'll try and keep you updated and get some fresh photos when they arrive.

Park's of Hamilton have received new deliveries of Volvo B11RT/Caetano C56FLt coaches for their National Express diagrams. This is a change of policy as they notably avoided Caetano coaches for many years!

BF68LBJ  Vo B11RT YV3T2U821JA189694  Co F183043024  C56FLt  9/2018  Park, Hamilton 
BF68LBL  Vo B11RT YV3T2U823JA189695  Co F183043025  C56FLt  9/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LBN  Vo B11RT YV3T2U825JA189696  Co F183043026  C56FLt  9/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LBO  Vo B11RT YV3T2U829JA189717  Co F183043027  C56FLt  9/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LBP  Vo B11RT YV3T2U825JA189729  Co F183043028  C56FLt  9/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LBU  Vo B11RT YV3T2U826JA189769  Co F183043029  C56FLt  9/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LFG  Vo B11RT YV3T2U828JA192284  Co F183043067  C59FLt  11/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LFH  Vo B11RT YV3T2U823JA192287  Co F183043068  C59FLt  11/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LFJ  Vo B11RT YV3T2U821JA192319  Co F183043069   C59FLt  11/2018  Park,Hamilton 
BF68LFK  Vo B11RT YV3T2U822JA192376  Co F183043078  C59FLt  11/2018  Park,Hamilton 

The first batch starting BF68LBJ are Caetano 2 bodied Volvos hence 56 seat and the last four are Caetano 3 with 59 seats.

This picture by Gavin Francis shows the later batch with restyled bodywork on Elizabeth Bridge taken January 5th 2019.

Ralph Adams reports "After a quiet period for Stagecoach, changes are made at Banbury from January 6.

The B5 peak extension to Ermont Way industrial area is now withdrawn due to low usage with a minor reduction in frequency on the main section.

The B4 which had an occasional mid day operation using the peak bus from B5 is extended to Hardwick Hill now every 40 minutes in morning and evening peak using the bus released from the B5. I think this covers the far end of the former B10 withdrawn over a year ago.

The overall PVR therefore remains unchanged."

East & West Scotland

Pictures are from Gordon Scott taken in Glasgow Bus Station on January 3rd 2019.

SC East Scotland 54122 "Dunc Stewart" leaving Glasgow with an M9 Stirling service on January 3rd 2019 by Gordon Scott.

Mentioned in previous issues new Volvo Plaxton coaches 54601 and 54603 are based in Ayr for the X77. 



50237 remains in service and may stay for a much longer period than at first thought ?


50237 seen in Gloucester Green on January 3rd by Ralph Adams 


Picture is from Gordon Scott taken in Glasgow Bus Station on January 3rd 2019.

Once pride of the Oxford tube fleet, 50286, is now decked in corporate livery and working the X76 from Glasgow. Picture by Gordon Scott.
Ironically seen in Glasgow on January 3rd 2019. 



Current advertising! 




Other operators

From Ralph Adams

Culham operating centres.

Whites appear to have all their Optare buses now withdrawn in various stages of decay. In contrast their coaches are all in good condition.

JD have 7 active vehicles and 12 awaiting MOT – many unlikely every to run again

Oxford Taxis have 7 active vehicles and 8 awaiting MOT – again many unlikely every to run again. They have 3 3axle Olympians here, TIL 6571 in daily use, 6572 licensed but in reserve and 6573 still unlicensed, obviously hoping for another high capacity school contract.

Gordon Scott writes "West Coast Motors M40WCM new as SV59 CGG Stagecoach Bluebird 2016 and then Stagecoach West Scotland 2019 seen leaving Glasgow on Citylink 926 to Campbeltown where it has been on this route for the last two weeks.

West Coast Motors M40WCM departing Glasgow with the 926 to Campbeltown on January 3rd 2019 by Gordon Scott.