delayed until Monday, March 15th.


A week of varied weather has produced some interesting pictures, especially of buses in heavy rain.

Hybrid 313 is seen with a 35 in St Giles on March 11th by Jack Cooper.

868 working the X33 across the Thames Bridge, Abingdon on March 10th by Jack Cooper.

One of the buses to be shortly repainted in teal 13 livery, 353 at Queens Lane last week by Gavin Francis.

689 is seen at Queens Lane when working an 8 road service framed by Queens College and its fine architecture.

James Freeman first with the latest livery for OBC

Early on March 10th James was busy with his camera and caught 351 in its new livery at the station.

 £3 billion bus revolution 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (March 15th 2021) unveils the most ambitious shake-up of the bus sector in a generation, which will see lower, simpler flat fares in towns and cities, turn-up-and-go services on main routes, and new flexible services to reconnect communities.

The government’s new bus strategy, backed by £3 billion of investment, will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.

Levelling up services across the country will encourage more people to use the bus, rather than the car, as we build back better from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The changes include:

The Prime Minister’s ten point plan sets out how we will accelerate the transition to greener and more sustainable transport.

We will:

We expect to see local authorities and operators working together to deliver bus services that are so frequent that passengers can just ‘turn up and go’ – no longer needing to rely on a traditional timetable and having the confidence they won’t wait more than a few minutes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

Buses are lifelines and liberators, connecting people to jobs they couldn’t otherwise take, driving pensioners and young people to see their friends, sustaining town centres and protecting the environment.

As we build back from the pandemic, better buses will be one of our first acts of levelling-up.

Just as they did in London, our reforms will make buses the transport of choice, reducing the number of car journeys and improving quality of life for millions.

The fragmented, fully commercialised market, which has operated outside London since 1986 will end. We want to see operators and local councils enter into a statutory “enhanced partnership” or franchising agreements to receive the new funding and deliver the improvements.

It is expected that many councils will choose enhanced partnerships, where local authorities work closely with bus companies, drawing on their operating knowledge and marketing skills. Others may decide that franchising works better for them.

Because of the decline in use caused by the pandemic, bus operators have already received significant emergency support from the government. From this summer, only services under these arrangements will be eligible for continued support or any new sources of funding from the £3 billion transformational investment. The government will also consult later this year on reforming the Bus Service Operators Grant – the current main stream of government bus funding – to achieve the same objectives.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said:

Buses are this country’s favourite way of getting around. They help us get to school, to the GP, or to the shops – but services across England are patchy, and it’s frankly not good enough.

The quality of bus service you receive shouldn’t be dependent on where you live. Everyone deserves to have access to cheap, reliable and quick bus journeys.

The strategy we’re unveiling today will completely overhaul services, ensuring we build back better from the pandemic. Key to it is the new deal it offers to councils – we will provide unprecedented funding, but we need councils to work closely with operators, and the government, to develop the services of the future.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

Buses are the backbone of public transport in the West Midlands, carrying more than 250 million people every year. Today’s strategy is therefore very welcome, and will enable big city regions such as ours to ensure buses remain at the heart of our future transport plans. Residents here want clean, decarbonised buses that are affordable and continue to remain reliable and punctual, and that’s what the new strategy laid out today will deliver.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

For bus passengers, today’s announcement of more frequent buses and simpler fares will be welcome news. For many, buses are a lifeline to employment, education, medical appointments and leisure, and are essential to the economy. We know that the key priorities for those considering using the bus are more services running more reliably, providing better value.

Since the pandemic, safety and cleanliness have become ever more important. We will work with bus operators and other partners to make sure passengers’ needs are at the heart of new arrangements.

It also sets out ambitions to provide greater access to bus services for all, with plans revealed to require ‘next stop’ announcements onboard buses throughout Great Britain, helping disabled passengers and others to travel with confidence. The government will also launch a consultation on new regulations to improve access onboard buses for wheelchair users.

London-style services aren’t appropriate for all rural and suburban areas, which is why the Department for Transport is today also announcing the recipients of the £20 million from the government’s ‘Rural mobility fund’, which enables on-demand services – such as minibuses booked via an app – to be trialled in areas where a traditional bus service isn’t appropriate.

So, interesting times ahead with a lot to report on as the months go by. I also understand that Oxford is in line to get grants for electric buses.


March 8th 2021


Full details including timetables. View the Oxford Tube timetable from Monday, March 29th here.

Gavin Francis took a couple of pictures of an Oxford street to show how deserted the city is art present.

The High looking east at 1020 on a March weekday morning !

And looking west along High Street towards Carfax, not even a bus in sight at 1020 on a March weekday morning. 

Fleet news and developments

I am advised that High Wycombe Citaro 3008 has been repainted and 3011 and 2790 are away for repaint. Thanks to Simon Mathieson of Arriva.

Pete Cabin

3018 BJ12DJE has transferred to Aylesbury from Wycombe also 2790 YJ60GGO is away for a repaint. 

Arriva's E400 5468 is seen arriving at Oxford train station with a 280 service by Gavin Francis.

Arriva Citaro 3921 working a 37A (Sundays only) through Flackwell Heath on March 7th by Nigel Peach.

Arriva 5461 is seen passing Friars Square in Aylesbury with a 160 service on March 3rd by Nick Ross.

Back from Thames Travel 941 working the 27 on March  8th by Pete Cabin. 

Phil Southall 

Volvo B5LH Wright Eclipse Gemini 2's 351 to 355 in Teal for City 13, 356 to 359 will now be repainted in a City 15 livery (TBC) and 360 to 363 in existing Blue City 2.

Ciaran Bird

Volvo 351 seen at Oxford Station working branded route 13 in Teal colour on March 10th.

Volvo 360 has repainted in City 2 blue livery seen in Kidlington with a 2A on March 8th.

Gavin Francis was in the City last week

Various coaches at work running the 11X all seen at Queens Lane.

Heading for Elms Rise with a 4A, 301 is seen in Frideswide Square on March 12th.

Hybrids 310 and 313 in New Road with 35 services.

316 was working the 4A when seen in New Road last week.

With repaints coming in the next weeks, Gavin took some of the bus to be affected. (353-357).

Heading for Harcourt Hill with a U1, 374 is seen in Frideswide Square on March 12th.

MMCs 604, 605 and 608 are seen in the City on non Brookes routes last week.

Wright StreetDeck 654 looks tidy when seen  in Frideswide Square on March 12th.

The Park & Ride StreetDecks are now mainly on the 400 and 500 services but are presently used on 2 road service
whilst the Volvos are away for repaint.

691 is seen at Queens Lane when working an 8 road service.

Jack Cooper keeps us up to date

351 is seen turning into New Road bearing its new City 13 livery on  March 11th.

Now there are seven buses with X3 colours, a surprise was Citaro 841 working the X3 in Abingdon on March 12th.

Jim Wright

Another picture of 351, now in rain at Oxford Train Station on March 10th.


Thames Travel has launched its newly branded Milton Park buses as part of its partnership with the prestigious science and technology park.

It follows the introduction of substantial improvements to bus connectivity launched by Thames Travel and Milton Park in January, which includes new direct connections to Headington, Wantage and Grove and an improved service to Oxford, Didcot Parkway and Abingdon.

This week Thames Travel unveiled three branded buses designed to highlight the services to passengers and celebrate the growing partnership with the flagship business park. Further improvements are due to be introduced from April, including the establishment of a new direct service to southern areas of Didcot and the southern section of the Great Western Park development.

The services provide enhanced connectivity between Milton Park and major residential areas, rail services, and Oxford. Milton Park employees can travel from anywhere in the Didcot area to Milton Park using their special employee tickets for a subsidised price of £20 per year.

Milton Park, managed by MEPC, is one of the leading science and technology communities in Oxfordshire and is home to 250 companies. The partnership benefits the park’s occupiers, visitors, and local communities.

The new buses feature decals which show the what3words the routes’ start and finish points so passengers can easily find the pick-up and drop off locations. what3words is a free app that divides the world into three metre squares and gives each one a unique address made of three words: a what3words address. For example the Didcot station bus stop is at ///regrowth.butterfly.presuming and ///local.courier.librarian  for St Aldate’s in Oxford. All go to ///scores.honey.ambitions, which is the destination for the Park’s Innovation Centre. This may be a sign of things to come, with what3words innovative location mapping soon likely to become more integrated into transport journey planning.

There are 22 ultra-low emission Euro IV buses operating on the Milton Park routes between 6am and 11.30pm daily. They are all equipped with Wi-Fi and contactless payment solutions, with many also having USB charging sockets and audio-visual next stop announcement systems.

Phil Southall, Managing Director of Thames Travel said: “This represents the next step in our partnership with Milton Park and our collective investment, along with Oxfordshire County Council, in providing improved connectivity in Oxfordshire. The newly branded vehicles look fantastic and are designed to help improve awareness of the services within the community.
“The new service means Milton Park has unrivalled direct bus connections to a wider range of locations, with faster journey times and improved ticketing options, to make bus travel easier. We look forward to welcoming more passengers as lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the coming months.”

Veronica Reynolds, sustainable travel advisor, Milton Park added: “At a time  when people are starting to consider returning to work, they are also evaluating how they can travel around more comfortably, sustainability and economically. The unveiling of the buses’ new livery is a great alternative travel mode offering people the opportunity to relax, read or work on the bus, while saving the average £162 per month that it costs to keep a car on the road.
“Having more regular buses going between Oxford and the Park helps our customers to retain and attract staff. If you live in Didcot, by switching to the bus, means you can travel to and from Milton Park for just £20 a year, which means that we can help people get to work and save money.
“By taking cars off the road, we can all work towards improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion. We hope that people enjoy seeing the new livery and experiencing the enhanced services.”

Thames Travel is the sister company of Oxford bus Company. It employs 150 staff and has a fleet of more than 60 vehicles, including 40 ultra-low emission models, operating in south Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The launch of the new services created 15 new jobs at Thames Travel’s low-carbon depot in Didcot.

Ciaran Bird

Scania 224 is seen at Oxford Train Station on March 10th with an X2 service.
Ciaran says "224 which has been repainted into Connector from city2.
One does wonder what the benefits of the "Connector" brand are over the generic Thames Travel colours!" 

Gavin Francis during last week

Scania 221 is seen at Queens Lane ready to work and X39 to Reading.

Repainted Scania 226 is seen in Frideswide Square working the X2.

Ex B&H 663 now renumbered 247 in the fleet in Oxford last week.

E20 MMC 454 is seen in St Aldates with an S2 working last week.

E20 MMC 512  is seen in Frideswide Square working the ST2 to Wytham last week.

Milton Park branded 621 is seen from offside rear in St Aldates with an X2 service last week.

Sister 622 in connector livery is seen in Park End Street last week also with an X2.

Citaro 852 in St Aldates with an X38 to Henley last week.

Jack Cooper

225 has entered service this week and is the last repainted Scania to enter service at Thames Travel, and had entered service yesterday running the BB4, 38 and then working 33s between Didcot and Wallingford yesterday. Today, March 13th it has been on the X 2 seen below.

Scania 213 is seen with a 45 service in Wootton Road on March 9th.

Citaro 861 is seen crossing the Thames last week with a 45 service by Abingdon.

Simon Caygill

Scania 914 working the 98 at Didcot Parkway on March 11th. 

Ciaran Bird

Optare Solo SR YH14BWH seen in West Street, Chipping Norton on March 5th.

Charles Powell

Myself parked up in Wroxton  with our UK17PUL waiting to start a school run to the Warriner in Bloxham on Monday, March 8th. 

Jack Cooper

Volvo B8RLE / MCV eVoRa AA68BUS is seen with a 15 working on March 8th. 

In spite of a recent report of buses being treated to the new local livery from March 1st, as of March 13th none had so far appeared in Oxford, save for the two E20/200s from Banbury which came to Oxford already dressed in the new colours!

Ciaran Bird

Above is nine year old Gold 15831 seen at Wootton Turn with a service 7 on March 8th.

Gavin Francis

E200 36928 is seen heading for  Cowley Centre with a 3A service last week.

M A N Trainers 22418, 6 & 7 are seen being prepared for service at the depot last week.

Jack Cooper

MMC 10674 working the S5 is seen arriving in Oxford during a cloud burst last week.

In nice spring conditions, Gold 10782 is working the S8 to Wantage on March 9th.

Recent MMC 11247 is seen with an S2X by The Randolph Hotel on March 11th, Wonder what an S2X is?

The sun was coming out, the rain cleared when 15755 branded for the S5 is seen working a 2B into the City on March 11th.
There appears no effort whatsoever to get branded buses on branded routes proving the need for branded buses to work their routes
so one wonders why companies brand buses. Surely save the money and make sure service run on time?

Now out and training, M A N 22417 is seen in George Street on March 11th.

Gold E300 28746 is seen arriving in Oxford with an S4 service on March 11th.

E200 36448 looks clean after the rain when working a 14A service on March 11th.

Jim Wright

The three trainers at Horspath depot on March 13th. Strange they either have small, large or no fleet numbers to identify them?? 

Gavin Francis

Jack Cooper

The S6 has been on diversion this week, although services had gone the wrong way! (The links below show the routing in question. Ed.)

MMC Gold 10985 is seen in Park End Street with an S6 on March 11th. 

Driver refresher training is now in progress ready for the start on March 29th.

citylink 50263 is seen in service at Halbeath with an M92 on March 10th by Willie the Express. 

megabus England and Wales restart date is March 29th. Services within Scotland continue to run.

Further details and link

Graham Low on High Wycombe in the 1960s

I have been looking through pictures I took in High Wycombe in the 1960s and attach views of GS28, RF175, and RML 2411 at the London Transport Garage.

The GS was used on lightly-trafficked route 442. 

The RML on busy local routes

The newly refurbished RF on the new Green Line 724, seen at the terminus in front of the then HE garage.

RT 3680 is seen on layover at the parking area adjacent to Frogmoor used by both LT and Thames Valley.

MB 95 is seen loading in Frogmoor when new. The MBs often took over from RT workings. 

Happy days when things somehow seemed more ordered than today. Many thanks to Graham for those excellent pictures. 

Michael Wadman

Many thanks to Tony Bungay and Ian Hardy for finding the Reading LondonLine coach at East Ilsey which means that it must have been on the X34. 

In answer to Tony’s question, I’ve got no information on any pre-deregulation predecessors, but as far as Reading Transport are concerned they started the X34 in October 1993, running M-S. It was reduced to SO in October 1997 and finally withdrawn in March 1999. 

Here is a somewhat more mundane vehicle operating the service on February 11th 1994 in the less scenic surroundings of Gloucester Green. No 216 (WOI 3005) was previously G683 KNW, built by MCW but used as a demonstrator by Optare after they’d purchased to rights to the Metrorider in 1989.

Picture by Michael Wadman 

An interesting variation started in November 1995 when the first northbound journey on the X34, which until then had terminated short at Abingdon, was diverted north of East Ilsey to Wallingford from where it formed the first northbound 105 to Oxford. What route it took to get from East Ilsey to Wallingford I couldn’t say.

Tony Bungay

Thank you for the feedback Malcolm, glad to have helped Michael pin down the location. By coincidence I found the timetable for the Reading Buses X34 in the Great British Bus Timetable Book, which shows exactly as he says a Monday to Saturday operation. 3 round trips to Oxford M – F and 4 Saturday. I seem to recall in the mid 1970’s Oxford – Newbury was jointly operated by Oxford South Midland and Alder Valley, I have a feeling though probably wrong the Service number was 112 and it had an hourly frequency.

On a totally different subject Channel 26 Yesterday, is advertising a new series called the secrets of Brooklands Transport Museum. Obviously it will be about the whole site, but has shown the Bus Museum in the trailer. So one to look out for!

Personally more so since the spectre of Covid, I find I am watching more of the lesser known freeview channels and very little of the mainstream!


Anyone any answers on this?

James Freeman

James advises that he  has posted a further video of local interest. Check out the link below.



Back in the 1950s when I lived in Hexham, Northumberland family holidays were taken in Scotland and one of my favourite destinations became Oban.  In those days, the local bus services in Oban were operated by W. Alexander & Sons Ltd but today services are provided by Craig of Campbeltown trading as West Coast Motors.


This issue of the briefing recalls, almost to the day, my last visit to Oban on March 16th, 2018.  I was staying in Edinburgh but planned an ambitious day out by taking Scottish City Link route 900 from Edinburgh to Glasgow at 6:15 am and route 976 from Glasgow to Oban at 8:30 am.  The schedule allowed me some six and a half hours in Oban before taking the trip in the reverse direction.


I purchased my ticket in advance at the Edinburgh Bus Station.
I was quite impressed by the strip displaying the itinerary for my day out by bus to Oban on March 16th, 2018.


My coach from Glasgow was 11409 (YN14 PNF), an Irizar-bodied Scania.
  It is pictured after my arrival in Oban at 11.30 am.


Pictured with the Perle Oban Hotel in the background is an Optare Solo, 11508 (YJ15 AXW).


(Pic. 3)
  With the Columba Hotel in the background is 10805 (R100 WCM ex-GX06 AUR), Alexander Dennis Enviro300.


(Pic. 4)
  10803 (MX57 UPZ) is an Optare that has been transferred from the Borders Buses fleet. 
It is pictured leaving from the stance on Station Road, adjacent to the Railway Station.


(Pic. 5)
  Route 417 is a local route serving Ganavan Sands and the Supermarkets and was being operated by Optare Solo 11403 (YJ14 BAV).


(Pic. 6)
   An anonymous looking Alexander Dennis Enviro200 at the stance on Station Road is 11224 (MX12 DZH). 
This bus had previously operated with Glasgow Citybus.


(Pic. 7)
  Optare 11603 (YJ16 DZM) has a variation of the West Coast Motors livery.


(Pic. 8)
  The country routes are operated by comfortable vehicles such as 11320 (Y90 WCM),
a Scania with an Irizar body on route 23 to Ardrishaig.


(Pic. 9, 10 and 11)
  10804 (GX08 AUT), an Alexander Dennis Enviro300, is seen on George Street heading out to Appin.

This route crosses the Falls of Lora on Loch Etive at Connel via the Connel Ferry Bridge, a structure built in 1909. 
This bridge originally carried the branch railway line to Ballachulish and a narrow single-track road.
It has been an attraction of mine each time that I have visited the area and a bus ride on route 405 across the bridge had to be taken!


(Pic. 12)
  11408 (YN14 PNE) is pictured on the stance in Station Road
prior to departing on the scenic Route 918 to Fort William on behalf of Scottish Citylink.


(Pic. 13)
  Pictured on George Street is 10306 (K200 WCM ex-YJ03 PDZ), DAF SB4000 with bodywork by Van Hool.


(Pic. 14 and 15)
  Another of my favourites are the ships operated by Caledonian MacBrayne.  In these views,
Isle of Mull is departing Oban and Loch Riddon is heading into the port.


(Pic. 16 and 17)
  10001 (W100 WCM), DAF SB3000 with Van Hool bodywork is seen on George Street
followed by 10902 (YX59 BZM), an Alexander Dennis Enviro200.


(Pic. 18)
  10709 (YJ56 JYD) is a Plaxton-bodied VDL 120 on the stop outside the Perle Oban Hotel.


(Pic. 19)
  This series of pictures reveals that cherished registration numbers are carried by many buses and coaches
operated by West Coast Motors as shown by Optare Solo 10506 (S600 WCM ex-YJ 54 ZYK) on Station Road.


(Pic. 20)
  West Coast Motors certainly operates a well-presented fleet with smartly dressed drivers. 
My return coach to Glasgow was 11314 (YT13 YUA), an Irizar-bodied Scania.
The journey departed at 6:15 pm with a layover in Glasgow prior to boarding the 10:00 pm route 900 for Edinburgh.


My day out to Oban had lived up to my expectations! 


PPhotographs by PAUL BATESON

What a really superb piece from Paul, which may encourage readers to consider a holiday in this lovely area when we are once again allowed to move around freely.