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Double-decker Bus: A Legacy in the Making

Oxonians discuss the past of the double-decker bus, its legacy and its popularity today.

The double-decker buses have touched many lives since their arrival from London to Oxford in 1994. Former Mayor John Lesley, who purchased the buses, has left behind a legacy for the city of Oxford.

For those new to Oxford, the double-decker is the red bi-leveled bus seen chauffeuring tourists and locals. The city owns two that it sponsors and maintains.

Morgan Pennington, executive assistant to the mayor, is from Pascagoula but has lived in Oxford since 2004. She has ridden the double-decker twice: once for a football game and once for a wedding.

“We sat at the top because that’s the best place to sit because you get to see everything, and on a nice football game day, it’s really nice to be up there,” Pennington said. “You kind of get to see the city from a different point of view.”

Administrative assistant Vicki M. Bishop has spent 23 years working for the city of Oxford.

Bishop said she was one of the first people to ride a doubledecker bus apart from Mayor Lesley.

“When we got the bus, we set it up to be used for tourism only, for visitors that came into our town, and then we started renting it out to the university because they had the most people coming in for tours,” Bishop said.

Engineering freshman Franklin Tatum recalled his first ride, which he experienced at age four.

“I remember when I was little, it was always cool because the double-decker bus was like an idol,” he said.

Some say riding on the top level is the best, no matter the age of the rider.

“I mean, face it,” Pennington said. “No matter how old you get, when kids are riding at the top for field trips at five and six, you feel just as cool when you’re riding it at 40.”

Pennington also said the double decker is a “neat experience,” and it’s hard to find it in other places.

“That’s what I love about Oxford,” she said. “They have little things like that that make Oxford really special.”

The bus rental is $160 for the first hour and $100 for every subsequent hour, and groups can request a tour guide for an additional fee.

“It’s different, it’s fun and it’s great background for pictures,” Bishop said. “A lot of people rent it out. It may be just an individual that knows enough about the town where they can do their own tours. The Oxford Tourism Council takes any visitors that might want to take the tour.”

The double-decker also has a public address system (PA system) and security guard who is placed on the bus at the discretion of the bus coordinator.

The double-decker bus can be reserved through the Oxford Tourism Council. Bookings can be made for children’s birthday parties, school groups, church groups, weddings and more. Requests must be made in advance to the Oxford Tourism Council at 662-234-4680