Oxford Bus Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Oxford Bus Company logo.svg
Wright Streetdeck SL15 ZGD Oxford HighSt.jpg
Route-branded Wright StreetDeck buses outside The Queen's College, Oxford in 2017
ParentGo-Ahead Group
HeadquartersThe City of Oxford Motor Services Ltd., Cowley House, Watlington Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 6GA
Service areaOxfordshire
Service typeBus and coach services
DestinationsAbingdon, Bicester Village, Gatwick, Heathrow, Oxford, Reading, [Wallingford, Oxfordshire
Fleet~155 (February 2021)
Chief executivePhil Southall
WebsiteOxford Bus Company

Oxford Bus Company is the trading name of The City of Oxford Motor Services Ltd.[1] It is a bus operator serving the city and surrounding area of Oxford, England. It is a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group.


Horse trams and horse buses[edit]

The City of Oxford and District Tramway Company served Oxford with horse-drawn trams from 1881.[2][3] By 1898 its network served Abingdon Road, Banbury Road, Cowley Road, Walton Street and both Oxford and Oxford Rewley Road railway stations.[4]

Horse bus services developed to complement the tramway network. By the early 20th century both Iffley Road and Woodstock Road were horse bus routes. On Saturdays only there were horse buses from Headington to the city centre and from Cowley village to the tram terminus in Cowley Road.[5]

In 1906 the City of Oxford Electric Traction Company took over from the City of Oxford and District Tramway Company.[1][5] It planned to electrify and expand the network, but was defeated by local opposition.[6]

Motor buses[edit]

In 1913–14, and under threat of competition from William Morris and Frank Gray, the tram company replaced its trams and horse buses with Daimler motor buses.[7][8]

In 1921, the company was renamed City of Oxford Motor Services Limited (COMS). It continued to expand its operations into the surrounding countryside. From the 1930s, COMS was controlled by British Electric Traction, with the Great Western Railway having a minority shareholding. The fleet livery was red with maroon and pale green relief. Most of its buses were built on AEC chassis and running gear. Numerous former COMS buses have been preserved, including a large and notable collection at the Oxford Bus Museum in Long Hanborough in Oxfordshire.

Preserved 1967 AEC Renown in City of Oxford Motor Services livery

In 1969 COMS became a subsidiary of the National Bus Company. Greater integration of city and country services began. In 1971, the Oxford – London coach operator South Midland, which had been controlled by the neighbouring Thames Valley Traction company, was transferred to COMS and the fleet name for the entire operation became Oxford South Midland.

An acute problem for the operator was the competition for staff with Morris Motors, whose Cowley factory was near the Oxford garage. One response was to move to one person operation of buses in the 1970s.[9]

After some trials, the Oxford company established the city's pioneering park and ride bus services in 1978. In the same year, the London express service began, using its present route.

In 1983, COMS was split into separate Oxford and South Midland units. The Oxford Bus Company was allocated the Oxford city services and the London routes, and South Midland was allocated the remainder of the network. Both companies were subject to management buyouts. The South Midland company was soon resold to Thames Transit (later Stagecoach South Midlands), which introduced minibus competition. Oxford Bus Company tried to counter this with minibuses under the Oxford City Nipper brand name.

The former 1999 logos of the Wycombe Bus Company and Oxford Bus Company

In 1990, the Oxford Bus Company acquired the High Wycombe operations of the Bee Line, and ran them under the Wycombe Bus brand name. In March 1994, the Go-Ahead Group bought Oxford Bus Company. In 2000, Go-Ahead sold the High Wycombe operation to Arriva. The company's long-established main depot in Cowley Road, Oxford was closed in 2004, replaced by a new depot opened in Watlington Road.[10]

In July 2009, Oxford Bus Company took over Oxford Brookes University's BrookesBus contract.[11][12]

Go-Ahead bought Thames Travel in 2011 and Carousel Buses in 2012. They now share Oxford Bus Company management but retain their separate identities.[13][14][15][16]

In October 2019, it was announced that the X90 service between Oxford and London would be withdrawn from 4 January 2020, due to a 35% fall in passenger numbers since 2015 causing the route to be unprofitable.[17][18]

Bus location technology[edit]

A Mercedes-Benz Citaro O530 on Woodstock Road, Oxford on former route City6 from Wolvercote to Magdalen Street. The bus's bright green livery was specific to that route.

All Oxford Bus Company buses and coaches have automatic vehicle location (AVL) equipment installed which works via GPS technology.[19] The AVL equipment installed on each bus or coach gives geographical location to within a few metres and is updating central control room every few seconds. This information technology can therefore be seen in real time at the central control room, which helps in managing the fleet.[20]

The AVL equipment is also coupled to a real-time passenger information system at over 250 bus stop display screens around Oxford City and surrounding towns, and via a smartphone app. This coupled information technology system gives the public "predicted times" of bus and coach services around Oxford City and surrounding towns.[20][21][22]

Oxfordshire County Council also uses this information technology to provide traffic-light priority for buses at some road junctions.[21]

The real-time passenger information system is managed by OxonTime, which is a partnership between various bus companies and Oxfordshire County Council.[20][21][needs update]


Oxford Bus Company currently operates services under four brands:

Brand Used for Services Image
City Local buses in and around Oxford. Most are branded with a livery and graphics specific to their usual route. city3/3A (yellow), city4/4A/4B/4C (purple), city5 (magenta), city8/9 (orange), city11 (red) city11X (two tone blue), city13 (teal), city15 (green), city35 (maroon), cityX3 (red & black), Bicester Village Shuttle (cityBV1) (black). Wright StreetDeck SK17 HHM Oxford IffleyRd 2.jpg
Park & Ride Limited stop buses from four peripheral park and ride car parks around the city 300, 400 Wright StreetDeck SK66 HUU Oxford BanburyRd.jpg
Airline Express coaches linking Oxford with Heathrow and Gatwick airports LHR, LGW, OXF Scania Plaxton Panther DF61 OXF Oxford HighSt.jpg
BROOKESbus Local buses linking campuses and halls of Oxford Brookes University, but open to all passengers U1 (NU1), U5 (NU5) Wright StreetDeck OX68 FND Oxford LondonPlace.jpg
River Rapids (From January 2022) buses between Oxford and Reading X39, X40 (NX40) Scania AlexanderDennis Enviro400 TF10 OXF Oxford StAldates right.jpg


As of July 2021, Oxford Bus Company's fleet comprises 147 vehicles, with 5 buses, 100 double deckers, 21 coaches, 5 interdeckers (Coaches in which there is a full size upper cabin, and a small one behind the driver, usually used for wheelchair access, which contains around 5 seats on most models), 6 minibuses and 10 ancillary vehicles. [23]

Model Type Image Number Of Seats Number In Fleet Fleet Numbers Routes Operated Livery(s)
Volvo B11R Coach A dark blue Volvo B11R coach, carying Oxford Bus Company's 'The Airline' Livery. 45 5 21–25 All Airline Routes (LHR, LGW, OXF) Dark Blue with Airline branding.
Mercedes Tourismo 20200104 Oxford Bus Company 37.jpg 55 9 30–38
20201007 Oxford Bus Company 40.jpg 2 39–40 Ashmolean promotional: 'Step into a million years of Art & History'
Volvo Caetano Volvo B9R Caetano Levante FJ60 KVR Oxford Carfax.jpg 57 5 56–60 737 to Luton and Stansted Airports.

By contract for National Express

White with National Express branding
Volvo B11R Interdecker Volvo B11R Plaxton Elite X90 PLS Oxford Carfax LeftSide.jpg 63–64 5 67–71 All Airline Routes (LHR, LGW, OXF) Various, including debranded X90 & 'W/AIRLINE'
Scania N230UD Double-decker Scania AlexanderDennis Enviro400 DF10 OXF Cutteslowe BanburyRd.jpg 81 2 220, 222 All 'City' routes Generic 'City' Red
ADL Trident 2 Enviro400 hybrid Photo in current livery unavailable 77 1 300 Blue Skye Thinking all-over andvertising
ADL Enviro400 hybrid AlexanderDennis Enviro400H HY11 BRD Oxford HighSt 2.jpg 79 3 301–303 City4/4A/4B/4C City4 Purple
AlexanderDennis Enviro400H HJ11 OXF Abingdon.jpg 4 305–309 City35 City35 Maroon
AlexanderDennis Enviro400H HM11 OXF Abingdon.jpg 7 310–317 All 'City' routes Generic 'City' Red
Volvo Eclipse Gemini 2 HEV Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 R1 OXF Oxford LondonPlace.jpg 73 5 351–355 City13 City13 Teal
Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 R8 OXF Oxford LondonPlace.jpg 9 356–363 All 'City' Routes Generic 'City' Red
Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 V14 OXF Abingdon right.jpg 1 364 Home Start Oxfordshire all-over advertising
Volvo Wright EclipseGemini2 V16 OXF Summertown RightQuarter.jpg 2 365–366 City2/2A/2B City2 Light Blue
Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 V17 OXF Oxford JRHospital.jpg 1 367 All 'City' Routes Pride Rainbow, with 'City' branding.
Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 N1 OXF Abingdon right.jpg 1 368 Oxfordshire Prostate Cancer Support Group all-over advertising
Volvo Wright Eclipse Gemini2 Y25 OXF Abingdon right.jpg 1 369 Oxfordshire Girl Guiding all-over advertising
Wrightbus Streetdeck Wright StreetDeck OX68 OBU Headington.jpg 83 6 371–376 BROOKESbus routes:

U1, NU1, U5 & NU5

Wright StreetDeck SL15 ZGE Oxford StAldates.jpg 101 9 651–659 City5 City5 Magenta
Wright StreetDeck SL15 ZGN Oxford FrideswideSq.jpg 2 660–661 All 'City' routes Generic 'City' Red
Wright StreetDeck SK66 HVG Bicester.jpg 66 1 662 CityBV1 Bicester Village Black
Wright StreetDeck SK66 HTX Oxford LondonPlace.jpg 4 663–666 CityX3 CityX3 Black & Red
Wright StreetDeck SK66 HTZ Oxford BanburyRd.jpg 15 667–681 All Park & Ride Routes:

300, 400 & 500

Park & Ride Two-Tone Purple
Wright StreetDeck SK17 HHN Oxford HighSt RightQuarter.jpg 75 4 682–685 City3/3A City3 Yellow
Wright StreetDeck SK17 HHR Headington RightQuarter.jpg 6 686–691 City8/9 City8/9 Orange
Wright StreetDeck NK20 EKX Abingdon OxfordRd.jpg 69 3 901–903 All 'City' Routes + BV1 City/BV Red & Black
ADL Enviro200 MMC Single-decker AlexanderDennis Enviro200 MMC YX70 OLO Bicester.jpg 31 1 514 Bicester Village shuttle Bicester Village Black
ADL Enviro400 MMC Double-decker AlexanderDennis Enviro400 MMC GB14 OXF Headington FoxwellDrive 2 crop.jpg 80 1 601 All 'City' Routes + BV1 City/BV Red & Black
AlexanderDennis Enviro400 MMC UK14 OXF Oxford BanburyRd.jpg 1 602 Chiltern Railways all-over advertising
AlexanderDennis Enviro400 MMC SU14 OXF Oxford FrideswideSq.jpg 6 603–608 BROOKESbus routes:

U1, NU1, U5 & NU5

AlexanderDennis Enviro400 MMC PS64 OXF Oxford CommercialRd.jpg 6 609–614 BROOKESbus Grey
Mercedes 0530 Citaro Single-decker MercedesBenz Citaro JF55 OXF Oxford NewRd.jpg 38 5 844–848 City4/4A/4B/4C City4 Purple
Mercedes Sprinter City Minibus Mercedes-Benz SprinterCity BU18 YRP Oxford StClements.jpg 14 3 972–974 Formerly used for PickMeUp App service Blue/Purple
17 1 977
Mercedes NHS Shuttle Service 17 2 955–956 Unknown Unknown


Buses branded for particular 'City' Services do not always operate on their branded routes, and likewise unbranded buses can often be seen running them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The City of Oxford Motor Services Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 6 August 2017. Company Number 91106
  2. ^ Crossley, Alan; Elrington, CR (eds.); Chance, Eleanor; Colvin, Christina; Cooper, Janet; Day, CJ; Hassall, TG; Selwyn, Nesta (1979). A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. 4: The City of Oxford. pp. 350–364. ISBN 978-019722714-5. Retrieved 6 August 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Hart 1972, p. 222.
  4. ^ Hart 1972, p. 223.
  5. ^ a b Hart 1972, p. 224.
  6. ^ Hart 1972, p. 225.
  7. ^ Chipperfield, John (15 March 2010). "Postcard marked passing of Oxford's trams". Oxford Mail. Newsquest Oxfordshire. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Oxford and District Tramways Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 22 July 1914. col. 591–599. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  9. ^ Jolly, Stephen; Taylor, Nick (2003). The Book of Oxford Buses and Trams. Oxford Bus Museum Trust. ISBN 978-0-9506739-2-9.[page needed]
  10. ^ Ashworth, Phil (2006). The Oxford Bus Company – the first 125 years. Oxford: Oxford Bus Company.[page needed]
  11. ^ "Oxford Bus Company wins Brooks bus contract from rivals Stagecoach". TransportXtra. Landor Associates. 6 November 2008. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013.
  12. ^ Crowe, Malcolm (3 July 2009). "Issue 292". The Oxford & Chilterns Bus Page. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Oxford Bus Company". Go-Ahead Group. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  14. ^ Smith, Andrew (29 May 2011). "No changes at Thames Travel says outgoing boss". Oxford Mail. Newsquest Oxfordshire. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Go-Ahead buys 35-vehicle Thames Travel". Bus and Coach. Plum Publishing. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2017.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Go-Ahead Acquires Carousel Buses Limited". Go-Ahead Group. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Oxford Bus Company to withdraw X90 service in new year". Oxford Bus Company. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  18. ^ Ffrench, Andrew. "Oxford Bus Company X90 service is being scrapped". The Oxford Times. Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Oxford Bus Company". Go-Ahead Group. 1 May 2015. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "About Us". OxonTime. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  21. ^ a b c "Real-time bus information". Oxfordshire County Council. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Travel Map". Oxfordshire County Council. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  23. ^ OBC_Fleet_List_09062021.pdf (PDF), https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/about-us/enthusiast/, 9 June 2021, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2021, retrieved 4 August 2021


External links[edit]