Friday 17 November 2023

The Watlington Mystery ...

... sounds like a Poirot story!

In a way it does require a bit of detective work.

Here is the picture which started the whole mystery off. It was from the inquisitive camera of Roger French.
Now fbb's agile memory drew him to a route 122 not far from Reading.
But Courtney (now Thames Valley) 122 ...
... doesn't run to Reading and hasn't been transferred to Red Rose. The 122 above runs to Woosehill and Embrook from Wokingham.
There is no mention of Red Rose on the Reading Council pages ...
... and a note with the Roger French picture implied that this was a new service, disowned, presumably, by the administrators at the southern end!
Watlington is top, Reading bottom.

So, if Reading doesn't "own" new service 122, maybe Oxfordshire will.

From Monday 6 November, the following services will begin:

122/123: Watlington to Reading via Nettlebed, Stoke Row, Checkendon, Rotherfield Peppard and Kidmore End. This will run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, through Red Rose Travel

126/127: Watlington to Thame via Lewknor, Postcombe, Tetsworth, The Miltons, Chalgrove, The Haseleys and Moreton. This will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Red Rose Travel.

So four brand new services to Watlington. Wowsers. And Oxfordshire will provide maps and timetables?

Erm, no! If you understand the system, there is clickable text for "Red Rose" which leads to the company web site. Here you find a weak computer generated dotted line ...
... and a timetable for the 122 and 123 routes combined.
There is no combined 122/123 map because the thicko computer can only handle one route number at a time.

Although the 126 and 127 both run between Watlington and northbound to Thame, they appear as separate tables - only they don't!.
Thanks to Red Rose's web site ...
... a click on the 127 box brings up a second copy of service 126. There is no timetable for the 127!

Good, innit?

The information on these improvements (just one bus between four routes) says they are serving communities which have not had a bus route since 2016.

fbb cannot write with authority on this claim, but he can and did search for Oxfordshire network maps of the area. The most recent that the county had produced is dated 2013. 

A ten year old map is the best the county can offer.

Ten years back there were no buses between Watlington and Thame as such, but other routes served some of the communities now catered for by the new 126 and 127.
Between Watlington and Reading, however, we find M1 and M2.
M might be for Motts Travel as here way back in 1999 at Reading.
The company has some smart newer motors today ...
... which contrast significantly with the interior of the Red Rose offering ...
... not the best advert for bus travel in Oxfordshire, whether new services or old!
fbb assumes that Roger's pictures are a precursor to a blog of his journey on one or more of these routes. Watch out for it, read it and see how many passengers joined Rog on his travels!

With a lack of printed publicity - a lack of ANY publicity - loadings are likely to be minimalist.

Coming tomorrow - More flowers for Peterville ...
... and a toothbrush is involved.

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 18th November 

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