Double decker buses return

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2016

After a year of having their use restricted, Oxford’s iconic double decker buses will soon be back on the road, carrying wedding parties, family reunions and other large groups throughout the streets of downtown Oxford.

In April 2015, the Oxford Board of Aldermen put a moratorium on the rental of the city’s double decker buses that were showing their age and caused some concern for riders’ safety. The two older buses were about 50 years old. They came to Oxford from England in the 1980s. In August, the city became home to two “newish” buses. One of the buses was made in 1983 and the other in 1986. The city purchased them for about $25,000 each from Arizona. Finding two buses that retain the “old fashioned” versus the newer buses was a challenge and took a few months to track down.

City Shop Superintendent Bo Ragon and Parking Director Matt Davis flew out to Arizona and drove the buses back to Oxford. Visit Oxford promoted the weeklong trek as “Double Deckers Do America” for residents to watch as the buses crossed the center of the country through pictures on Instagram and other social media sites like Facebook.

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Ragon said the new buses are ready to be put to work and asked the board to allow the city to begin rending the buses out once again.

“We’ll be back in the bus rental business this April,” Ragon said after the aldermen voted to remove the restrictions on rentals.

The two older buses are still running and will be kept for special occasions, like the Double Decker Arts Festival and historical tours through Visit Oxford. They will not be used for private parties and cannot be rented out any longer. One of the newer buses had an enclosed top but it was removed once in Oxford since sitting in the open air is one of the buses biggest attractions.

Previously, the buses were rented out at $160 an hour. Mayor Pat Patterson asked Ragon to work with Davis to come up with a rental fee plan and submit it for approval by the next Board of Aldermen meeting.