Well, I have wondered over the weeks and months of "Weekly Briefing" whether I would reach 100 and to my surprise here we are - 100 issues since March 4th 2018. So, in 111 weeks I only missed 11 weeks in two years. I am rather pleased with that but without your support I could not have done it. Thank you all.

From Weekly Briefing Issue nr 1 - March 4th 2018.


After a quite a long wait, the two orange E200s which are normally used on the Link 40 but retained their 39 branding have now gained full Link 40 branding whilst retaining their orange livery. These buses were first seen earlier this week.

424 is seen on February 27th, which I think was its first day in service. Snow was starting!

Sadly 424 is now withdrawn, out of use, at the Wycombe depot.

Prior to Weekly Briefing I went through various names including Spottings & Jottings (108 issues 2009 to 2018) - News Page (294 issues 2002 to 2009) and between 1998 and 2002 some 216 issues making a total of 618 over the period from 1998 to 2018 plus another 100 Weekly Briefing. It seems something to have keep going for so long. You can see the various issues on my index, though sadly some are no longer accessible but I hope one day to correct this problem.

All could not have been done without reader's support. Also it is certainly keeping me going during these difficult times. 

Weekly update

It seems appropriate to say something about how the bus companies are continuing to run, so below is a commentary on such matters.

COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant is explained

The Department for Transport (DfT) has written to operators in England that receive commercial BSOG outlining how the COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant (CBSSG) will be paid and what is required in return to qualify for it.COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant will be effective in relation to costs from 17 March and it will run for three four-week periods.

It has been initially set at 100.51p per kilometer for the first of those periods. For services in Greater Manchester, CBSSG will be paid to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). It will then administer payments to operators.

Money will also go to other local authorities (LAs) based on supported service mileage, with a top-up for rural areas.

The total payable through the grant has been capped at £166.8m. Buses Minister Baroness Vere has said she is “confident” that sum will be enough. It was arrived at following consultation with operators and examination of their cost bases and revenues.

First CBSSG payment based on 2017/18 average

As already outlined when CBSSG was announced it is an additional funding stream above BSOG, contract revenue and concessionary fare reimbursement.

Payments for the four weeks from 17 March will be based on an average of the operator’s four-weekly commercial BSOG live kilometres operated in 2017/18. DfT will then use an assumed service level of 50% during the period that the first payment will cover, and the initial pence per kilometer rate, to calculate the first sum to be transferred to the operator.

Subsequent periods will use actual live commercial kilometres operated in the previous four weeks as a basis, meaning that from then onwards CBSSG calculations will not involve a service level percentage. A decrease in kilometres operated will thus lead to a drop in the CBSSG payment.

Operators that did not claim commercial BSOG in 2017/18, but have done since, are eligible for CBSSG. DfT will work with them to determine suitable data to use for calculating the first four-week payment

Any changes to that ratio will have an inverse effect on the CBSSG rate – i.e. an increase in the patronage ratio will have a downward effect on CBSSG.

The first payment assumes patronage and fare revenue at 5% of pre-pandemic levels. No adjustments will allow overall CBSSG payments to exceed the £166.8m envelope.

DfT says that in exceptional circumstances, an operator may request a review of its CBSSG payments. That will only be possible if they are at least 20% below what the operator believes is needed for it to make available the required level of capacity, and that they will likely lead it to financial distress.

Operators that have run bus services for “the majority” of the period between 17 March and 6 April can apply for CBSSG. To do so, an online declaration should be completed by 13 April. DfT says it aims to then make the initial payment within no more than eight working days of receipt.

Black Cab drivers in Oxford are down from 105 to 15 cabs and if they take £40 in a day, they are doing well !!!

This picture from Wayne Singleton taken at the end of March emphasises the desperate situation for many.

One comment I feel compelled to make is the lack of notices at Gloucester Green Bus & Coach Station. One would have imagined that the operating companies could have put notices up saying service not running. For example there is no indication that the X5 is no longer operating to Oxford. I wonder why operators cannot do this simple act of help? NOT EVERYONE HAS A COMPUTER OR MOBILE PHONE.

Also there is no indication that someone can catch an S5 to Bicester (which does not go from the coach station) and connect with the Stagecoach 505 to Brackley should they wish to go to Milton Keynes.

The Rail Station however has much more information for customers !!!

Oxford Bus have made some further changes to their times on the U1 and LHR services.

Sadly in these difficult times this is not unexpected and the services now reflect demand. As we are into a further three week lockdown it does not seem that anything will change in the near future.

Click on the poster for times

Click on the poster for times

Oxford Bus has made changes to the area for passengers on its local buses in service, a very sensible move. 

The company are operating a shuttle service from The JR to Oxford Hotel on Wolvercote Roundabout for the hospital workers (Doctors and Nurses etc.) Yesterday I am told that a tri-axle Neoplan coach was being used. It had large NHS stickers on the door and front screen.

Any pictures pleases please?

A nice touch is that drivers seem to be retaining their same bus, every during their breaks.

It is also noted that service 14 from the station to the JR maybe stopping at Court Place Farm to pick up hospital staff.

Other operators seem to be maintaining a status quo with the Oxford tube fleet currently all laid up, an unbelievable situation a couple of months ago.

Well, stay safe and keep happy !

Times of Old

At this point of reduced contributions this part of the web page is rather important and I am pleased to provide quite a lot of interest from Times of Old.

Malcolm Crowe.

Two of the ex London type RT/RTL buses used by Harpers in the '60s and early '70s. I worked part time for Harpers and enjoyed driving these buses.
Of course JXN349 was an ex LT bus and very nice to drive, seeming nice and powerful.
BDJ806 was never a London bus but came from St Helens. Nice to drive but somewhat underpowered compared to the Leyland.
My Saturday and Sunday duties in the early '70s often saw me with one of these two on short workings from Cannock to Aldridge, duplicating the main service to Birmingham!

During 2000 I used to travel down to Taunton to help Rexquote on busy weekends. It was wonderful as the buses driven were elderly and more to my time.
Above is a picture of your Editor with ex Bournemouth Leyland Royal Tiger 271 at Dunster Station.
Rexquote provided a free service from The West Somerset Railway to Dunster Village and here I have just conveyed a return load for the next rain on a lovely sunny day.
May 29th 2000, nearly 20 years ago. Happy memories !

Matt Bullock

Charlbury, and NPM 326F, a Strachan Pacesaver-bodied Ford opened as a pub in 1759.

Still trading
Geoff Gould captured this shot of Worth's of Enstone NPM 326F in Church Street, Charlbury, in front of the Bull Inn, in June 1972.
It's a 53-seat Strachan Paceway Express-bodied Ford R226, new to Woburn, London, and acquired by Worth in 1969.
It lasted until 1980 when it was replaced by new Volvo coaches, and passed to a farmer in Hereford.
Worth's used to work stage services to Oxford, Witney and Chipping Norton from Charlbury;
the Oxford route is now Stagecoach Thames Transit S3 and the Witney service is the X9 now run by Pulham's.

The “Witney Weaver” was the branding used for the 100 service between Witney and Oxford run by Harry Blundred’s Thames Transit operation.

Dennis Dart N56 KBW is seen in Park End Street in July 1996 passing Rosie O’Grady’s, at the time an Irish pub, and now called the Lighthouse.

Grahame Wareham

A few more from Grahame's library which are much appreciated.


COMS VR 108 with a service 70 to Oxford departing VCS in July 1974. having entered service the previous year in March.
Seating 41/27 with smart leather headrests these coaches must have created quite an impact when first launched.

These two Bristol RE's were delivered in May 1967 and are seen here in Gloucester Green, April 1968, passing on the Worcester-London service of South Midland.
by this time the company was run by Thames Valley before, some years later, being transferred to City of Oxford Motor Services.
This was the X90 and Oxford tube of its day and well used from its inception in 1922, then as a private company.

James Freeman

Remembering those happy years when I drove on National Express 737 duties for some four years. We had five of these Levantes, at the time very Avant-garde !
James's picture shows the last one of the five, 59215, at Queens Lane, Oxford on April 30th 2009.

I had driven part and full time on the Skyliners from 2004 and 50117 is seen in James's picture heading to Carfax Corner on May 5th 2009.
WiFi in those days was not unusual and the Oxford tube was one of the very first to offer this facility.

Paul Bateson

Paul has taken many UK pictures over the years and even after he moved to Canada, continued visiting the UK to enlarge his library.

Here is one to test your memories, we have many of this batch of buses with COMS, however here is one in service with Clapham Omnibus.
Taken when London General VN2 at the bottom of Regent Street, working the 88 on September 19th 1995.

Reading is the setting for this ex Alder Valley Bristol VR when moved to Wycombe Bus as their 1547.
At that time the Wycombe-Reading service was the 328 and the livery replicated the Oxford livery.
Paul took this picture on September 5th 1995.

Carl Berry

This is one for Buses in the Landscape.

 It was taken on August 14th 2018 somewhere in North Iceland and shows a Mercedes of Fjallasyn, a company from Húsavík in North Iceland.  

Jack Cooper

Please see attached my weekly throwback of pictures - this week is from 2016, each week I will select you around 10 pictures for the page, below are the captions for the pictures. 

Arriva London Enviro400 City on route 78 to Shoreditch crossing Tower Bridge taken on August 3rd 2016 near to City Hall and HMS Belfast.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire Enviro 400mmc 10674 brand new at Buses 2016 on 21st August with our editor, Malcolm, sat behind the wheel. 

Oxford Bus Company 231 at Buses 2016 on August 21st 2016.
This bus at the time was advertising the Airline including the short lived Birmingham Airline. This bus is now in Connector livery at Thames.
I have heard a story from one driver that at Green Road a passenger hailed the bus thinking that it was their bus to Heathrow or Gatwick airport when it was an 8 to Barton!

Thames Travel 120 seen in Abingdon on the September 15th 2016. This bus was on a 114 service (which has since been withdrawn).
The particular Trident had more liveries than any other bus of the batch. Ed.

The 114 ran between Wallingford and Abingdon and was mainly used by school kids and those going to Abingdon Witney College, hence why it terminated on the Wootton Road instead of the Town Centre. The service was cut back in 2016 after the bus cuts to have two journeys, one to Abingdon before school and one after school out of Abingdon - in between trips the bus did the 41 hence why it was a decker before initially being withdrawn.

Many thanks to all contributors, it makes for interesting reading, young and old alike.

North of the Border with Gordon Scott - our man in Drum Brae!

As ever Gordon has been taking his daily walk and providing us with a record of events north of the border.

April 13th

Taken at Wester Hailes Edinburgh today.

Lothian B8L Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 XLB Central depot on Longstone depot route 33 today. 1064CE - SJ19OVX looking pristine.

April 14th

Picture from today taken at Gyle Shopping Centre Edinburgh.

Once again
1125 in 100 years Centenary Special livery, looking superb.

April 15th

Taken St Johns Road Corstorphine Edinburgh.

Parks of Hamilton
Volvo B11R Plaxton Panorama HSK656 seen on Citylink 900 route still running.

Stagecoach West Scotland Cumbernauld depot.

Volvo B11R Plaxton Panorama 50419 - YX69LBZ
seen on Citylink 900 route today.

Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 27219 - SK15HBZ
running out of service heading into Edinburgh with Fast Link X19 Glasgow branding.

April 16th

Glasgow Road Edinburgh.

Stagecoach West Scotland Cumbernauld depot.

Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 MMC 10918 - SN67XAK
New to Kilmarnock depot. Seen running out of service on Glasgow Road Edinburgh.

As ever many thanks to Gordon for his contributions, it seems that maybe a few more services are running in the north of the U.K.

Fleet news and developments

Paul Swann advises "6460 SN58EOC on loan at MK from Hemel  Hempstead"  Nice if someone could get pictures please?

Nick Ross

Arriva Mercedes Minibuses 1002 and 1008 drivers stop for a chat in Leighton Buzzard High St on local duties on April 9th 2020. This is the complete Aylesbury mini bus fleet in one image!

Well done Nick. 

M F Uncle sent these two pictures of the Carousel depot seen on April 15th with 885 in the frame.
This bus has not so far been in service.

Simon Caygill notes that 217 was on service in Didcot this evening! It was working route 11 to Watlington this morning.

Some nice contributions this week to show that life goes on regardless!

Jimmy Ko

Saw BF14OXF on Rail replacement service at West Croydon whilst making my way to work on Easter Sunday, April 12th.

Kris Lake

Last month 603 was one of a number of Oxford buses to make the journey up to London to assist on the Jubilee Line Rail Replacement service on March 14th.

Grahame Wareham

Some more pictures of Oxford Bus route 2 passing my house in Kidlington on April 16th.

602, 660, 690 and 691 working 2 road on April 16th by Grahame Wareham.

Suzanne Wareham

A nice picture from Suzanne of 691 working a 2A service on April 16th. She is a new contributor and most welcome.

N Collins

Two ex Oxford Citaros now at work in Ireland by N Collins taken on April 8th. 

Simon Caygill

Unusually a double decker was working the 94 on April 14th when I arrived at Didcot Station from Reading.

Simon Caygill notes that 217 was on service in Didcot this evening (April14th)! It was working route 11 to Watlington this morning.

From The C E O, Robert  Williams.

In the light of the current situation, we have made the sad decision to cancel this years open day on 28 June. Even if things are starting to return to normal by then it won’t feel right to hold such a large gathering of people.

A huge amount of time and energy also goes into organising the day, which rightly needs to be focused elsewhere at the moment.

The open day is one of our key fundraising activities for our charity of the year, currently Sport in Mind, and with that in mind we have also decided to extend the fundraising across two years through to December 2021. Hopefully that will mean we can definitely raise a record-breaking amount for this very worthy cause!

I am told that the company has SORN most of the fleet keeping a few coaches, some Solos and the Mercedes.

Chris Maxfield via Jim Wright

YX69NZE a new MMC E200  at Cheltenham Royal Well on 801 service to Moreton in the Marsh on April 9th by Chris Maxfield.
 This route is usually operated by a Volvo MCV.

I have more pictures from Chris for the next issue.

Charles Powell

Taken at Arle Court P&R in Cheltenham on the 15th. Myself at the front in N99 going to Gloucestershire Royal hospital and Chris Maxfield behind in M99 going to Cheltenham General.

 13634 was sold from a company in Kilwinning, Scotland to Rebound at Bampton so maybe we will see it in Oxford one day.

In South West Trains livery, 13634 at Elizabeth Bridge on July 27th 2006 by Gavin Francis.

A recent tweet said "The safety of you and our drivers comes first, please leave plenty of space between each other (only one passenger to a double seat) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please also be sure to take any rubbish or your newspaper with you when leaving the bus. Thank you."

SKM has provided a list of vehicles out of service with Oxfordshire.

SC Oxfordshire current fleet list inc. SORN vehicles 

Witney's 11245 seen at Cheltenham Races on April 13th by Daryl Major.

Stagecoach 10674 at a very quiet George Street at 0802 in morning rush hour!
April 13th by Jim Wright. 

Leamington depot is still running the 50 from Stratford to Chipping Norton a few times per day. Jim Wright says they are using one of the new MMCs. 

Carl Berry

A few pictures that might fill space in your reports. 

Relevant are a few I took on March 14th which feels a long time ago now. The aim was to ride on the X3 between Abergavenny and Hereford on the newly introduced double deckers. Mostly ex Witney of course: 

 15754, OU61AVJ departing Abergavenny to Cardiff.

On the left is the new hydrogen car filling station and on the right in the background the new flats that have replaced the old bus depot that had been in use by an engineering company until a few years ago. 

18007, SF53BYZ (to Cardiff) and 15964 YN14PKX (to Hereford) at Abergavenny.
18007 is part of a batch that was acquired to replace none PSVAR coaches from schools that also cover the X3 at times. 

15964 YN14PKX  (to Cardiff) and 15838, OU62CJX (to Hereford) at Abergavenny.

Readers will remember that 15754, 15838 and 15964 came from Oxford quite recently. Ed.

15838 a day earlier on March 13th seen at Cheltenham Races taken by Daryl Major.

Quite a coincidence!! 

Occasional movement of the Oxford tube fleet is happening from time to time as they are given maintenance at Oxford (Horspath).

As there are currently no services and we await further pictures or information as it becomes available.


    When I had occasion to need some photographs recently I was delighted to find just what I needed on The Transport Library Web Site. The collection is significant and if you do use the site please mention the Oxford Chiltern Bus Page.

    Robin who runs the site wrote to me:

    "I was recently put in touch with a local transport photographic image company called Kezlan Images. They run two sites – the Transport Library and The Transport Treasury. Together they provide over 200,000 images to purchase with both Road and Rail transport from the UK and overseas. I was drawn mainly to the Transport Library as this site has a larger volume of Bus images. In particular they offer the images from J S Cockshott, Geoffrey Morant and also several photographers who left their collection to the Omnibus Society. Started in 2012 the Transport Library started as a way of marketing Russell Fell’s large collection of London Country and London Transport Images. This collection alone numbers around 25,000 and contains a great many shots from the local area. From there though they have picked up other collections plus run a service for individuals and societies to market images on their behalf in exchange for royalty payments. The site is well worth a look as there are images from a wide variety of operators from across the country, so there should be something for everyone. Kezlan Images also buy transport photographic collections, and have started to move into publishing through the Transport Treasury brand. Currently the books they have produced are based on rail subjects, but they hope to move into road matters in the near future." 

    I would note that prices are most reasonable for the photographs, especially if one take the Digital images.

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