WOMEN love sitting on the top deck of the Oxford Tube to peer into people’s homes and gardens, according to the author of a book about the iconic bus.

Launched in 1987, the Oxford to London service started out with just seven second-hand coaches, each one with about 44 seats, and the service ran up to every 30 minutes, ending at midnight.

Now, as Stagecoach celebrates 25 years of the Oxford Tube, there are 26 double-decker coaches with 87 seats and they make 80 trips a day up and down the M40, running every 10 minutes at peak times and offering a 24-hour service with free wi-fi connections.

As staff celebrated 25 years on the road on Wednesday at Stagecoach’s Horspath Road depot in Cowley, driver Malcolm Crowe reflected on his own career as a driver on the Oxford Tube, and on the history of service.

Father-of-four Mr Crowe, 72, from Stokenchurch, has been driving the Oxford Tube for the past eight years.

His book, Oxford Tube: An Illustrated History is being published by Presbus Books on Sunday.

He said: “I have always been fascinated by buses but I ended up working for the airline industry for 45 years where I was a regional director for Dutch airline Martinair.

“My book is a detailed history of the Oxford Tube and has over 150 photos and illustrations, with the majority in colour.

“The double-deckers were introduced in 1999.

Students love the idea of riding on them and women also love riding on the top deck because they can look down into people’s houses and see what kind of curtains they have got.”

Mr Crowe, who regularly drives past his home on his trips to the capital, added: “We do get some quite well-known people on the Oxford Tube – former Bishop of Oxford the Rt Rev Richard Harries was a regular customer and he just got on board with everyone else. We didn’t save him a special seat.

“There have been some unfortunate moments.

“I once had a tyre blow out when I was coming back to Oxford on the M40, but we make sure passengers are not affected.

“There is always another Oxford Tube coming along to help out so you are never delayed for long.”

BBC worker Phil Rumsby has travelled on the Oxford Tube most days since it launched.

He said: “The coaches may have changed over the years but the service has remained consistently high and I look forward to the next 25 years.”

Andy Buckingham, 45, from Cowley, has been with the Oxford Tube from day one and began driving the coaches in 1988.

He drove the coaches for four years before taking up other posts with the company and is now a driving examiner for the firm.

He said: “I never thought I would be here this long – the Oxford Tube has been a massive success.”

Stagecoach managing director Martin Sutton added: “The success of the Oxford Tube is due to the drivers and support team who keep the service running day after day.”

Earlier this month the Oxford Bus Company unveiled a new look to its rival to the Oxford Tube.

Formerly the Espress, it is now called the X90 and coaches have been refurbished to provide more legroom.