Oxford Bus Company

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Citaro Oxford Bus Company.jpg
Mercedes-Benz Citaro in Oxford in June 2006
Slogan We're all about Oxford
Parent Go-Ahead Group
Founded 1881
Headquarters Oxford
Service area Oxfordshire
Service type Bus services
Destinations Abingdon, Didcot, Kidlington, Oxford.
Express services to London, Heathrow, Gatwick
Fleet 163 (April 2015)
Chief executive Phil Southall
Website www.oxfordbus.co.uk

Oxford Bus Company[1] is a bus operator serving the city and surrounding area of Oxford, England. It is a subsidiary of the Go-Ahead Group.


A City of Oxford Tramways Company horse-drawn tram system first operated in Oxford in 1881.[2] In 1906 its operation was taken over by the City of Oxford Electric Tramway Company.[1] This did not in fact electrify the tramway, but in 1913/14, and under threat of competition from William Morris, replaced the trams with Daimler buses.[3][4]

In 1921 the company was renamed City of Oxford Motor Services Limited and continued to expand its operations into the surrounding countryside. From the 1930s the company was controlled by British Electric Traction with the Great Western Railway also having a shareholding. Most of the fleet comprised AEC vehicles in the traditional red livery with green and maroon relief.

On becoming a subsidiary of the National Bus Company in 1969, moves towards greater integration of city and country services began. In 1971 the Oxford to London coach operator South Midland, which had been controlled by the neighbouring Thames Valley Traction company, was transferred to City of Oxford Motor Services and the fleet name for the entire operation became Oxford South Midland. A particularly acute problem for the operator was the competition for staff with Morris Motors whose works was located close to the Oxford garage. One solution was the move to one person operation of buses during the 1970s.[5] Following several trials, the Oxford company has operated the city’s pioneering park and ride bus services since 1978, the year in which the London express service on its present routing began.

In 1983 the operation 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) who introduced minibus competition, countered by the Oxford Bus Company under the brand name Oxford City Nipper.

The previous 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. On March 1994 Oxford Bus Company was sold to the Go-Ahead Group. In 2000 Go-Ahead sold the High Wycombe operations to Arriva. The company's long-standing main depot site in Cowley Road, Oxford was closed in 2004 in favour after a new depot opened in Watlington Road.[6]

In July 2009 Oxford Bus Company commenced operating the BROOKESbus under contract to the Oxford Brookes University.[7][8]

In 2011 and 2012 the Go-Ahead Group purchased Thames Travel and Carousel Buses and brought these under the management of Oxford Bus Company although they retain their separate identies.[9][10][11][12]

Bus Location Technology[edit]

All Oxford Bus Company buses and coaches have automatic vehicle location (AVL) equipment installed which works via GPS technology.[13]

The AVL equipment installed on each bus or coach gives geographical location to within a few meters and is updating central control room every few seconds; therefore this information technology can be viewed in real time at the central control room, which helps in managing the fleet.[14]

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 (iOS, Android OS, Windows Phone). This coupled information technology system gives the public “predicted times” of bus and coach services around Oxford City and surrounding towns.[15][16][17]

Oxfordshire County Council also use this information technology to provide traffic-light priority for buses at various road junctions.[18]

The real-time passenger information system is managed by Oxontime, which is a partnership between various bus companies and Oxfordshire County Council.[19][20]


Oxford Bus Company currently operates services under five distinct brands:

Brand Used for Services Image
Oxford Bus Company / "City" Local buses in and around Oxford, the "City" name has been introduced recently for the most frequent services, and appears on the sides of buses, buses were designated to specific routes ("City 5" etc.) but now only display the general "City" name City 2/2A/2B/2C/2D, City 3/3B, City 4/4A/4B/4C, City 5, City 6/6C, City 8, City 9, City 13, City 35, City X3/X13, City 600 Oxford Bus Company 845.JPG
Park & Ride Express buses from the well-developed network of peripheral park and ride car parks around the city 300, 400, 500 Oxford Bus (9784711926).jpg
X90 London Express coaches between Oxford and London Victoria Coach Station X90 Oxford Bus Company 31.JPG
Airline Express coaches between Oxford and Heathrow or Gatwick Airports LHR LGW OXF The Airline.JPG
BROOKESbus Local buses serving the campuses and halls of Oxford Brookes University (previously operated by Stagecoach Oxfordshire) U1 (NU1), U1X, U4, U5 (NU5), U5X Oxford Bus Company 604 on Route U1, Oxford Station (14966079163).jpg


Bus in centenary-themed livery outside Queen's College, 1981

As at April 2015 the fleet consists of 163 buses and coaches, of which 52 are hybrid buses. [21]

Oxford South Midland - Preservation[edit]

Some former National Bus Company vehicles trading under Oxford South Midland have been preserved.

Oxford South Midland preserved Bristol VR in Alton.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Companies House extract company no 91106 The City of Oxford Motor Services Limited
  2. ^ A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 4: The City of Oxford
  3. ^ Postcard marked passing of Oxford's trams Oxford Mail 15 March 2010
  4. ^ Oxford and District Tramways Bill House of Commons Hansard 22 July 1914
  5. ^ Jolly, Stephen and Taylor, Nick (2003). The Book of Oxford Buses and Trams. Oxford Bus Museum Trust. ISBN 0-9506739-2-7. 
  6. ^ Ashworth, Phil (2006). The Oxford Bus Company — the first 125 years. Oxford Bus Company. 
  7. ^ Oxford Bus Company wins Brooks bus contract from rivals Stagecoach TransportXtra 6 November 2008
  8. ^ Introduction The Oxford & Chilterns Bus Page 3 July 2009
  9. ^ Oxford Bus Company Go-Ahead Group
  10. ^ No changes at Thames Travel says outgoing boss Oxford Mail 29 May 2011
  11. ^ Go-Ahead buys 35-vehicle Thames Travel busandcoach.com 8 June 2011
  12. ^ Go-Ahead Acquires Carousel Buses Limited Go-Ahead Group 20 February 2012
  13. ^ http://www.go-ahead.com/ourcompanies/bus/oxford_bus_company.aspx Go-Ahead Group Website 01/05/2015
  14. ^ http://www.oxontime.com/About.aspx Oxontime Website 01/05/2015
  15. ^ http://www.oxontime.com/About.aspx Oxontime Website 01/05/2015
  16. ^ https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/real-time-bus-information Oxfordshire County Council Website 01/05/2015
  17. ^ http://voyager.oxfordshire.gov.uk/map.aspx?maplayers=naptan Oxfordshire County Council Website 01/05/2015
  18. ^ https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/real-time-bus-information Oxfordshire County Council Website 01/05/2015
  19. ^ http://www.oxontime.com/About.aspx Oxontime Website 01/05/2015
  20. ^ https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/real-time-bus-information Oxfordshiire County Council Website 01/05/2015
  21. ^ http://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/about-us/oxford-bus-company/ Oxford Bus Company Website 01/05/2015

External links[edit]