welcome to the showbus picture of the week
see over 30,000 pictures worldwide free to view in our galleries
Yesterday we said farewell to Carousel Buses A40 service which has been linking High Wycombe with Heathrow Airport for fourteen years. Back in 2004 the then small independent company started the service along the A40 to Uxbridge and on to the airport primarily using ex Armchair Leyland Olympians and the occasional MCW Metrobus. By-passing Beaconsfield town and being unable to carry passengers between Uxbridge and the Airport thanks to the "ever helpful" TfL the service seemed doomed. However support from the British Airports Authority helped secure three prestigious Mercedes Citaros to make the route a flagship service. The silver Citaros had red graphics matching those used by First Beeline on their services from Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead and Tellings Golden Miller from Walton amongst others. The service between Wycombe and Uxbridge was augmented by service 740 which served the centre of Beaconsfield. This put pressure on Arriva's service between the towns and its 74 route between Wycombe and Beaconsfield, which continued to Slough. The 74 had at one time been a joint operation between Arriva and Bee Line between Wycombe and Heathrow via Slough. Later new MCV bodied Mercedes O500LE buses joined the Carousel fleet and the Heathrow service was rebranded "the Link" with an additional A30 route linking Chesham with Heathrow, increasing the frequency on the common section with the A40 between Gerrards Cross and the airport. The A30 was short lived, the service was extended beyond Chesham to Hemel Hempstead but truncated at Uxbridge as the 730, but offering connections to Heathrow on the A40. It is unlikely that many passengers took advantage of the facility. The integrity of the A40 was further compromised with some 740 journeys reaching Heathrow.
Yesterday saw a major change to services in and out of High Wycombe affecting both Carousel Buses and Arriva. The 740 and 730 are renumbered 102 and 105, with Watford service 336 - a number dating back to London Transport days - renumbered 103. The A40 becomes the 101 but is truncated at Uxbridge, Carousel advising passengers to change to TfL services to reach Heathrow. The 104 replaces Arriva's 74 to Slough.
Whilst Arriva withdraws from the 74, Carousel is quitting the X80 "Regatta Line". The service started two years ago competing with Arriva's 800/850 to Reading. It has undergone at least three major changes during that time, the last linked into the recast Park & Ride service to the new Wycombe Coachway at the M40 junction. In a really messy arrangement the P&R service was linked to town service 39 to Totteridge, with some journeys numbered PR1 and others PR2 plus others as X80. How many P&R passengers ended up taking an unexpected trip via Totteridge is anyone's guess. Journeys from Reading are notorious for delays, especially leaving Reading at peak times, so how many X80 buses arrived at the P&R site very late - or missed it out as they were so late - is another unknown. Happily the Park & Ride service will now be self contained, as will town service 39.
I was the last passenger on the last A40 from Heathrow yesterday at 1810h. Two others joined the bus at Heathrow, but did not travel as far as Wycombe. The bus is seen pulling on to the Central Bus Station stand, the flag still expects the 730 so it may be a while before the A40 finally leaves the airport. The bus is former London General MEC21 (BD09ZRC) one of the Mercedes Citaro rigids which displaced their bendi counterparts off former Red Arrow routes. It in turn was displaced by BYD electric Enviro200MMC bodied buses to Oxford as their 876, losing its centre doors in the process. Along with others it joined Carousel parading around Wycombe with just the word "city" on its front dash for a while. Now it is plain red with no fleetnames, along with many other fleet members which have been stripped of their "X80 Regatta Line" and "the Link" branding in recent weeks ahead of today's changes. Today howver all can be revealed, the new 100 series route numbers herald a new "Chiltern Hundreds" branding, a picture of WRight Streetlie 406 with the branding can be seen on our Instagram account - SHOWBUSinternational.
The best way to thew airport from Wycombe now is probably not via Uxbridge but via Slough with First Berkshire starting a new fast 9 service to Terminal 5 on top of the recently introduced Green Line 703 from Reading Buses. First's X74 links Wycombe and Slough speedily by using the M40 and avoiding Beaconsfield altogether. It looks like Wycombe's bus wars are over for a while.
We have thousands of pictures to choose from for our Picture of the Week but you are welcome to send in your own. If we do not feature it here, it may appear later in our picture gallery.
Ideally pictures should be 732 pixels wide and no more than 100kB.
Please email to rally @showbus.com with "Picture of the Week" as the subject
See May 27th's picture of the week here.