Reading Service Changes Due
Details are coming through about the major service revision that has been in the pipeline since a number of Reading routes were withdrawn in March 2002 due to driver shortages. Here is a summary of what is known so far:
Partial details of major service changes commencing 28-10-02:
Newbury Vodafone Excels move to the 102
Newbury's two Optare Excels 941 and 942 are being taken off their usual Vodafone duties until November and put onto trunk route 102 to Reading instead. Construction work at the new Vodafone headquarters means that the buses are unable to safely access the site for the time being so they have been temporarily swapped with more suitable MetroRiders from the ordinary Newbury fleet. The Vodafone routes were only very recently diverted to the new headquarters, although the site has not been completed, staff have moved into some sections. More than two buses are required to maintain the 102, so the usual Vectas will continue to appear.
941 was confirmed to be on the 102 today, keep your eyes on the new RG Bus Forum for more sightings. (The photo above was added on 20-08-02).
Chiltern Queens NOT sold!!
The takeover of Chiltern Queens by Horseman Coaches apparently never happened! In the midst of some confusion, the actual event that should have been reported was that the managing directors of Horseman Coaches joined the board of Chiltern Queens at the invitation of CQ's owners because all of the other directors had resigned. Their remit was to turn the company around and stem losses that were being incurred. It seems that technically Chiltern Queens are still a separate company, although at present they are only known to be operating a single service - route I from Reading to Wallingford. Private hires are now diverted to Horseman, and the coaching fleet has been merged with that of Horseman.
Bus Zone at with Host
Bus Zone has now completed its move to a new host - SupaNames. The move has allowed all pages on the site to become accessible using the Bus Zone name, for example the updates page can now be found at www.buszone.co.uk/Updates.html in preference to www.busweb.co.uk/rwill2805/Updates.html. The old URLs can still be used for the time being, but please update any bookmarks with the new address now. Depending on how you get to the various parts of this site the move may or may not make any difference to you, but all you really need to remember is www.buszone.co.uk!
Sorry if you have had any trouble accessing this site during the move.
Bus Zone service Interruptions
The Bus Zone domain will shortly be moving to a new host, and during the move the site may not remain accessible from the www.buszone.co.uk address.
The move will allow the contents of the site to be stored with the Bus Zone domain, rather than using the domain name to direct visitors to www.busweb.co.uk/rwill2805/ where the files are currently stored. The www.busweb.co.uk/rwill2805/ address will remain accessible throughout the move, so if the main address goes down you can still get to the buses! At some point in the distant future this old address will be phased out.
Demonstrator for Reading Transport
Reading appeared to be operating this Scania demonstrator, M76 HOV on Goldline duties today. It has lettering on the rear to advertise the fact that it is powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, the same fuel used by MetroRiders 614/24. Its use by the company has not yet been confirmed, but it was seen parked up at the Great Knollys Street depot, and also being driven through town by what appeared to be a Goldline driver.
I have now also had a report that it was parked in Great Knollys Street last week apparently with a Reading Transport operators disc.
Another visitor to the depot today was a right hand drive, French Renault built coach. It unloaded passengers at the station before heading to Great Knollys Street presumably for a break and refuel.
Reading Buses Strike Action
Reading Buses drivers may go on strike on the 9th and 14th of August for the first time in 20 years if they do not reach an acceptable pay deal with managers. Drivers say that they need a 10% increase to allow them to afford to live in the town, but have only been offered 5%. Managers say that a 10% rise would mean that fares would have to be increased and services cut. Negotiations are underway and improved offers have been made in a committed attempt to resolve the situation which otherwise would likely see all services operated by Reading Buses, Newbury Buses and Goldline Travel grind to a halt.
The strike action on the 9th has been cancelled following an improved offer from the company, reportedly a 6% rise, with enhanced weekend overtime rates for Reading drivers, and a 7% rise for Goldline drivers. A ballot will be held on Monday 12th to decide whether or not to accept the deal, union representatives are now giving their support to it. From the outside the deal seems to be a good one for the drivers, especially compared to many other bus companies around the area where drivers have to negotiate hard to get 3%. However, wage differences are offset by the higher living costs in the region that seem to affect Reading in particular.
The strike action on the 14th has also been cancelled after the drivers accepted the new pay deal in a ballot on the 12th.
Thames Travel take over from Chiltern Buses
Following the acquisition of Chiltern Queens by Horseman Coaches, most of the stage carriage services operated under the Chiltern Buses name have been sold to Thames Travel. The deal includes the three purple East Lancs bodied Dennis Darts and services 136, C, D, G, H1, H2 and H3 which will become 136, 145, tb103, 146, 151, 152 and 153.