This week I am pleased to note two significant events concerning the Oxford Bus Company, the events being highlighted in articles below. It is a credit to all members of the company in an excellent performance.

It seems that in the upcoming elections one party is proposing free bus travel for the under 25s. A worthy thought but how is this to be paid for? The Concessionary Fare situation at present is that companies are having to pair down on services and local  councils are finding harder to subsidise the existing financial involvement with current "free travel". Witness the fact that we have seen the discontinuation of a number of marginal services in our area of cover!

In this issue I include pictures of two coaches companies in our area, namely Luton and Sandy, being Safford's and Three Star.

Traffic delays and Road Conditions 

Something I do feel strongly about, as a bus and car user, is the state of the roads at present. There are some awful potholes and bad surfaces in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, much worse than when we moved here many years ago. Equally, there have been some strange design developments road wise in High Wycombe, where the new layouts actually discourage car drivers and indeed much traffic. The "strange developments" I mention are the narrowing of roads, new road layouts, one with no indication of any right of way! A disaster waiting to happen. Furthermore the designs, in Wycombe, seem to echo Oxford and it new road layouts. Both places now are heading for massive traffic jams, witnessed by the Westgate car parks being full by 1330hrs on Saturday, November 23rd. Indeed major delays were reported on two of three Park & Ride services in Oxford and we are not yet in December. Surely stationary traffic also causes air pollution and are motorists likely to use the Park & Ride if it is facing MAJOR DELAYS at lunchtimes?

Ironically the planners results can be seen in an article in the Bucks Free Press concerning the new Aldi store area.

Tempers boil over as traffic jams get worse near new ALDI store

Editor's Note

Finally a note from me regarding reports and photographs for the weekly page. I start work on Sunday and try to have everything wrapped up by Wednesday lunchtime. I only add anything which is of major importance on  publication day, which is normally Thursday, anything therefore after Wednesday morning is held over until the next issue. I hope everyone can appreciate this?


A look at the successes of Go-Ahead in Oxford


The "Oxford Bus" Group enjoyed success in last week's UK Bus Awards achieving FOUR awards on Thursday, November 19th at Troxy East London, a superb venue for such an event

Luke Marion, Phil Southall and Andy Morison proudly hold the Gold at the UK Bus Awards 2019

Oxford Bus Company is celebrating having won four gongs at the most prestigious national bus industry award scheme, the UK Bus Awards.

Judges awarded Oxford Bus Company a gold, two silver and one bronze in a special night. The team’s outstanding performance saw them win the top gold award in the Bus and the Community category. Silver in both the Making Buses a Better Choice and the Cultural Change category and bronze in the Top Shire Operator.

Bus and the Community category - Gold Award

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “I’m so proud of the whole team for winning four out of four awards at the industry Oscars. It is a fantastic achievement and recognises the vision, talent and impact of our team in delivering better services to our customers in a challenging market. A big thank you to everyone who made this possible.”

The GOLD went to the company’s 'Brand the Bus' competition which offers people the chance to nominate their favourite good cause to be branded on a double-decker bus. The 10 entries that are deemed best according to a public vote are shortlisted and examined by a judging panel. The winning organisation is invited to work with the Oxford Bus Company to design a bus wrap featuring the brand colours, logo and messages of the good cause.

The annual Oxford Bus competition was launched in 2018 and in its first year attracted 39 entrants and approximately 6000 unique votes from members of the public. The judges were impressed with the way the activity links back to the community, and creates real momentum giving charities some high-profile publicity throughout the city.

Making Buses a Better Choice category - Silver Award

Cultural Change category - Silver Award

Innovative on-demand ride sharing service PickMeUp took Silver in the Making Buses a Better Choice category. The silver award in the Cultural Change category recognised the company’s dedication to improving the business, its change programme began more than four years ago and has seen great developments from improved employee engagement, new recognition schemes, plus training and depot enhancements.

Top Shire Operator category - Bronze Award

Bronze was awarded in the Top Shire Operator category, which recognises county bus companies that provide an outstanding service, show commitment to improving the environment they operate in, and are obsessive about the customer experience.

Mark Yexley, Chairman of the UK Bus Awards, said: “A massive congratulations to Oxford Bus Company, there are so many great initiatives which demonstrate both technological innovations, and community and staff engagement. To win four awards is a fantastic achievement. Well done to the whole team.”

May we at The Oxford Chiltern Bus Page add our congratulations on this significant achievement.

Aspire launch the gym bus at the Oxford Bus Company depot

Aspire Web Site

Aspire, an employment charity and social enterprise have teamed up with Oxford Bus Company to put a fully equipped gym bus onto the streets to help the community.

Oxford Bus Company donated the single deck vehicle to the charity and specialist engineers mentored Aspire colleagues at the workshop at Cowley House, Oxford, to fully convert it. Oxford Bus Company also provided a driver training programme for a member of the Aspire team. The innovative community project is the first of its kind in Oxfordshire.

It is part of Aspire’s STRIVE initiative to make active opportunities accessible to those in isolated and deprived areas of Oxfordshire with minimal access to exercise equipment and sports. On-board activities will include boxercise, football and aerobics and nutritional advice and smoothie sessions will also be provided.

Led by the Aspire team the Gym Bus will help engage with adults and young people who are experiencing disadvantage, supporting them to improve their health and fitness and enhance their wellbeing and confidence, so further steps such as training, work experience and employment feel more achievable. It will launch on Monday at Oxford Bus Company with a stakeholder event which will include a 15-minute taster session of cardio-boxercise on the Gym Bus.


Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “This is a fantastic project which we have been delighted to support, from providing the bus to helping Aspire convert it into a mobile gym in our workshop. One of our values is being socially responsible and so it was a natural fit for us to commit to partnering on this project with Aspire. It’s an innovative community scheme and we’re excited to see the positive impact it will now have in our community.”

Paul Roberts, Aspire Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to launch our Gym Bus on 18th November and would like to thank our funders and partners for helping to bring this innovative project to life. We’d like to say a particular thank you to Oxford Bus Company for not only donating the bus, but for working with us in close partnership to make this project such a success.”

Nikki Atkinson, Head of Employment Projects at Aspire, added: “Aspire’s new Gym Bus is set to transform the lives of hundreds of people facing disadvantage across our community. We’re over the moon to be able to bring sports activities to people who are too often forgotten by society, helping them to make lasting changes to their lives."

Another significant development for Oxford Bus, well done from The Oxford Chiltern Bus Page.

Arriva to bring new digital transport solution to Watford

Arriva has signed a new contract with Watford Borough Council to introduce a new digital Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) service to the town from March 2020.

The contract will last four years, with the option of a two-year extension. Residents and visitors will benefit from a new and easier way to get around, that will reduce the need for private car ownership and provide a more environmentally friendly way to travel.

Photo courtesy Arriva

Alistair Hands Commercial Director, said: "We’re delighted to be working with Watford, who should be applauded for their forward-looking approach to addressing connectivity issues. We’re in conversation with a number of other local authorities and interested third parties to explore the role that DRT can play as part of the mix in encouraging uptake of public transport.” 

This is the fourth DRT service Arriva has introduced in the UK since 2017 and builds on existing operations in Liverpool and Leicester. It’ll form part of Watford council’s wider strategy to develop an integrated approach to improving sustainable transport options throughout the town, which also includes a bike hire scheme. 

The new service will mean improved connectivity between Watford Junction, only 20 minutes away from London Euston, and local points of interest including Watford town centre, Croxley business park and the major tourist attraction of Warner Brother Studios, home of the Harry Potter studio tour. 

Seven buses, that can seat up to 15 people, will be introduced within a defined operating zone. Journey prices will range from £1 to £2.50 per mile with weekly passes available too. The service will run Monday to Thursday 6am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 6am to 11pm and on Sundays from 8am to 9pm. 

The buses are fully accessible, with front kerbside double door access and a low-level fold-out wheelchair ramp. Passengers can pre-register as a wheelchair user. There will also be space for pushchairs. Journeys can be booked via a smartphone app using technology provided by ioki, DB's smart on-demand mobility business.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “Introducing new, greener ways to travel around the town is one of my top priorities. I am delighted to be announcing a demand responsive bus scheme for Watford and am confident that ArrivaClick will be a real success in our town, offering a great alternative to the car. I am looking forward to welcoming the first buses to Watford and joining local people next year in using them to get around.”

North of the Border with Gordon Scott

November 20th

Taken in Princess Street Edinburgh
, Lothian 419 - BN64CSF, a Volvo B5TL Wright Gemini 3 on route 33 with overall Glenfiddich advert.

Taken at Gyle Centre Edinburgh today
Lothian Country 103 - RIG6493 ex East Coast Buses
 and new to Arriva Fastlink Kent GN06EVK
taken today on route 275 note front lower panels.

November 22nd

Lothian 135 - SN55BJV Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse
taken at Gyle Centre Edinburgh on route 2 repainted into white.

November 24th

Taken today at Lothian Longstone depot Lothian Country 177 - SN13BEJ. Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse for route X38 Livingston depot based.

Lothian certainly make an excellent job and presentation of their buses.

Paul Hawkins visits Belfast

Paul has sent some interesting pictures for the issue, I am sure readers will find these interesting. They were all taken in Belfast during October 2019.

Translink "urby's" 3105 in Belfast during October 2019.

Van Hool ExquiCity 318HB with Translink Glider service as their 3209, a rather smart option don't you think?

Translink run a 15 minute service (at peak times but it is a 24hr service) to Belfast International Airport formerly known as Aldergrove.
2101 is seen leaving the Europa Buscentre in Belfast.

The Europa Buscentre is the Belfast terminus for most "Goldline" services in Northern Ireland.

Service 212, the Londonderry Express, is seen leaving the Belfast Europa Buscentre. Double deck Caetano's are few and far between in the UK.

Translink Metro 2955, is a 1999 Volvo B7TL with ADL ALX400 body.

3142 is a WRIGHTBUS STREETDECK new in May 2019 working 1g

For those interested a Translink fleet list can be found at this link: http://www.ith.org.uk/trflst.txt

Fleet news and developments

Locally Arriva has an interesting fleet of buses with some approaching 20 years old. These can be found at High Wycombe, Milton Keynes and other depots in our area. I am referring to the 51, 02 and 52 plate buses.

Regarding the new coaches for Green Line operations, 7100-7105, so far nothing has been reported of their entering service and indeed no pictures have surfaced either.

Green Line 7011 is seen rounding Marble Arch on November 22nd taken by Gavin Francis.
The "clutter" of branding makes for interesting reading !

Tony Bungay

On a different note, as you may have seen in latest Bus magazine, a decision on Arriva has been postponed again, as seemingly a possible buyer was offering less than hoped for price. In same issue Arriva pulling out of two services in Guildford, one wonders if the next move in this saga will be similar to First in selling off some garages, as you commented on regards Cannock.

Indeed Tony is commenting on matters many people would like to know the answer!

Nigel Peach

3032 is a third Citaro to have transferred from Aylesbury to Wycombe (as well as 3916 and 3922), following the move of most journeys on 300 and X30 to Wycombe depot. 

3032 was on the 1A on 27th November. 

None of the three show up yet on www.bustimes.org .  

Full details of the livery for the Chiltern Link coaches, 75-77 to operate the service from High Wycombe to Heathrow, has now been revealed as seen in the graphic below. One coach, I presume 78, is going to be an unbranded spare.

© Oxford Bus Company

Citaros 876 and 877 are still  away on loan to Thames Travel.

A busy week for Oxford Bus having awards and Aspire. There have been a number of occasions when branded buses have appeared on the wrong route which many readers find of interest !

An excellent picture considering the time of day. 305 is seen with a 5 road service on November 22nd.
Picture courtesy Guy Watts.

Citaro 843 with a 13 road service in St Clements St on November 24th. Thanks to Jason Kew for this picture.

On November 27th it was noted that was on 300 road and 683 was on 4 road.

220 looking travel stained was working 2 road on November 25th with picture by Gavin Francis.

662 was working 6 road on Sunday, November 25th along with another decker. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

CUSTOMERS of the X90 to London coach service being withdrawn in January can travel for free for a week with Great Western Railway.

The train operator has stepped in to offer existing X90 customers a free, seven-day standard class off-peak trial of its Oxford to London Paddington service. 




The Oxford Bus Company will run normal timetables on Christmas Eve, with an early finish on some routes. Bus services and PickMeUp will not operate on Christmas Day. Special timetables will apply to all services on Boxing Day.

On December 27th and 30th City, Park & Ride and Airline services will operate to Saturday timetables. PickMeUp will run between 7am and 11pm, BROOKESBus will operate a Sunday holiday timetable and a special timetable will apply to the X90. On December 28th and 29th normal timetables will apply except for the BROOKESBus which will operate a Sunday holiday service and the X90 will continue a special timetable.

On New Year’s Eve all City, Park & Ride and Airline services will operate to a normal timetable, with an early finish. PickMeUp will operate a normal Tuesday service and BROOKESBus will continue a Sunday holiday service. The X90 will run a special hourly service between Oxford and London during the day and increased services at peak times in the evening and early hours.




The Oxford Bus Company will operate a festive service to Gatwick and Heathrow on Christmas Day:


The well-established Christmas Airline service between Oxford and Heathrow and Gatwick will run throughout Christmas Day. It will run a special service to support passengers seeking to reach major airports for onward travel. Broadly coaches will run to Heathrow hourly and Gatwick every two hours through the main part of the day, with all services to Gatwick running via Heathrow.

It is the seventh consecutive year the Oxford Bus has operated the Airline service on Christmas Day. It comes after Oxford Bus Company invested £3.5M upgrading the Airline fleet earlier this year to provide the latest green technology and increased comfort for passengers.

Two pictures from Andrew Simmonds of Tourismos 33 and 35 at Heathrow looking very smart in spite of the weather.
Taken on November 23rd.

Coach 39 is due back in service during December after repairs following an accident were completed. 

Whippet's NX21 with a 010 service near Victoria on November 22nd by Gavin Francis.

reays Coaches Limited is an award-winning family business which started operating back in the 1980’s and are now the fastest growing independent bus and coach operator in Cumbria. 

This coach is a long way from home in Cumbria. reays have a number of special registration plates for use in their fleet.

I liked the number plate - 2NXA - on this Neoplan Tourliner - New as OY67DXV to Highland Coaches of Dalmally in February 2018.

Gavin Francis caught this Safford's coach in Notting Hill Coach Park on November 22nd.
This company comes from Sandy in Bedfordshire. http://www.saffordscoaches.co.uk/

One of the Three Star coaches was also seen at Notting Hill Gate coach park on November 22nd by Gavin Francis.  This company operates out of Luton. 


 Volvo B12B with Berkhof Axial 50 FJ07VWY

An interesting item regarding East, East Midlands  and Oxfordshire can be found on the SKM pages at this link: https://www.stevenknightmedia.com/fleet-news-ramblings

I subscribe to the Twitter feeds for our and other areas and have noticed tonight that the following was posted around 1730 on Thursday, November 28th.

"Hi, it’s Chris Coleman here, MD of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire. Welcome to the first - #AskStagecoachMD Twitter session. I’m here for the next hour to answer any questions or feedback you may have about our services."

Now I find that a very interesting development from Stagecoach and it should prove to be rather popular.

I have an apology to make regarding an item in the last issue. Only 15966 has returned to Oxford and 15965 is still hard at work in Witney.

Many of the news Witney MMCs are now in service and I note from various reports that passengers are very impressed, saying the buses are light and airy and appreciating the next stop announcements.

Ben Studley took this picture of 11248 in Corn Street, Witney on November 22nd.
However as of this morning, November 28th 11248 does not appear on bustimes.org as there is a problem with some of these buses reporting.

Frazer Peddle took this picture of Horspath depot on November 20th showing the variety in the fleet now. 

There are still 25 Tridents in the main operation fleet with  Midlands a further seven in the Reserve Fleet.

By far the largest allocation is at Northampton where 18102/27/49/51/52/58/59/98/99, 18322, 18404/05/07/08/09/10 are in the main fleet with Reserve Fleet 18103/06/28 also seeing regular service. A further three, 18101/04/08 are in the main operational fleet at Kettering with 18400/01/02/03 in the main fleet at Leamington. Also at Leamington in the Reserve/Delicenced Fleet are 18323/71/98/99.

Now out of main fleet use at Northampton are MAN/Enviro 300s 22840/41 which are in the Reserve Fleet. There transfer leaves none of the type on the main fleet at Northampton. Another MAN out of use here is Enviro 200-bodied 39683 which is now for disposal. Its place on the fleet at Kettering has been taken by Reserve Fleet Dart SLF 35175. Now parked up for the winter are open top Tridents 17412/17/94 along with 17527/75 although we suspect they will be withdrawn before the 2020 Stratford City Sightseeing season when newer ex  London  are expected to be used. Trident 18153 has been scrapped with Delicenced MAN/Enviro 300s 22832/35/36/37/38/39 now being parked up at Corby depot.

Nick Ross sent this seasonal picture of 15668 working the X6 in Northampton on November 25th.

South's 27830 with X76 branding seen in Overton on November 18th by David Gray.

David writes  "The batch 27828-32 were previously in Route 1 branding for services in Basingstoke but have recently been reallocated to Andover and have acquired branding for Route 76. An enhanced timetable was introduced yesterday, with Whitchurch now having a 20-minute frequency." 

The new ADL Enviro 200MMCs being delivered here are 37616-29, details in the table below. 37616 which was only delivered earlier this week entered service on November 20th.

SN69ZGK  AD E20D SFDCTAER9KGYA7787  AD K204/1  B40F  11/2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37616 
SN69ZGL  AD E20D SFDCTAER9KGYA7790  AD K204/2  B40F  11/2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37617 
SN69ZGM  AD E20D   AD K204/3  B40F  11/2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37618 
SN69ZGO  AD E20D   AD K204/4  B40F  11/2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37619 
SN69ZGP  AD E20D   AD K204/5  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37620 
SN69ZGR  AD E20D   AD K204/6  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37621 
SN69ZGS  AD E20D   AD K204/7  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37622 
SN69ZGT  AD E20D   AD K204/8  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37623 
SN69ZGU  AD E20D   AD K204/9  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37624 
SN69ZGV  AD E20D   AD K204/10  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37625 
SN69ZGW  AD E20D   AD K204/11  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37626 
SN69ZGX  AD E20D   AD K204/12  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37627 
SN69ZGY  AD E20D   AD K204/13  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37628 
SN69ZGZ  AD E20D   AD K204/14  B40F  /2019  Cheltenham & Gloucester  37629 

Further to my comments under Oxfordshire, Chris Coleman has also posted on the Twitter for the tube on OCBP publication day (November 28th) at 1730hrs.

"Hi, it’s Chris Coleman here, MD of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire and Oxford Tube. Welcome to the first - #AskStagecoachMD Twitter session. I’m here for the next hour to answer any questions or feedback you may have about our services."

As stated above, I find this a welcome development, well done Stagecoach.

The recently transferred megabus coaches are now being sent away for repaint into full tube colours. I would also note that as seen in the pictures below from Gavin Francis, current coaches are looking much better and cared for, especially with clean wheels which, personally, I think makes any vehicle look much better.

50273 is seen picking up at the Notting Hill Gate stop on November 22nd. GF

50275 is seen picking up at the Notting Hill Gate stop on November 22nd. GF

Both coaches look very much better than of late!

Now keep a weather eye out  for any ex megabus coaches, heading up and down the motorways, to or from repaint.

Pictures from Gordon Scott taken on November 22nd in Edinburgh.

Stagecoach Midlands Megabus Volvo B11R Plaxton Elite i, 54263 - YY65VXE seen on M20 to London leaving Edinburgh.

Stagecoach East Scotland Perth Megabus Volvo B13R Plaxton Panther, 54119 - 900RWX ex SP62 CFM seen on M90. 

 London developments and Smaller operators

The appearance of more TfL buses in service from the various operators continues to add colour and interest to those visiting the Capital.

The pictures below were taken on November 22nd by Gavin Francis.

Abellio LT630 working the 159 at Marble Arch on November 22nd by Gavin Francis. Anyone fancy a Vodka?

Two variations working Arriva route 38 are LT182 with "The Crown" and LT187 with "GoPro".
Note how dirty wheels do nothing to enhance the appearance of these buses!

Arriva's LT716 working the 137 and seen at Marble Arch advertising "FIFA 2020"

The 94 has become a colourful route with a number of all over ads.

Metroline LT763 now carries a wrap for The National Lottery and is seen working the 390.

Finally in this selection of London's buses we have Abellio 8246 working the E7 at Ruislip Station.
I do like these small E200MMCs the seem cute!

On other matters London Gavin recorded two buses with tour companies, as shown below.

Once the pride of London's buses - The Routemaster - examples of which seem always present in London.
I am told that RML2556 is now with Premium Tours, looking resplendent in a fresh coat of paint.

Golden Tours operate a fleet of modern open top buses as seen above at Notting Hill Gate, Volvo 141 on a wet Friday.

Back  in central London at Victoria, The Original Tour have many differing liveries, this one for The Maldives is very appealing.
VXE734, no place for snow flakes on this one!

Now we have a question from Tony Bungay. What was this "MYSTERY TOUR" doing in Aylesbury. It is a preserved Hants & Dorset Bristol RE/ECW DP - UEL564J - seen on November 22nd

Picture by Tony Bungay. 

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