15 May 2008

Recent BUS/COACH developments, no 6

  • Centrebus gain two bus fleets in Huddersfield. Stagecoach Yorkshire has sold its Huddersfield operation to Leicester-based Centrebus. At the same time K-Line (Teamdeck Ltd) of Honley sold its business to Centrebus. A new subsidiary named Huddersfield Bus Company was set up by Centrebus, operated by its Centrebus Holdings Ltd arm - in which Arriva has a 40% stake. Stagecoach had been in negotiations to sell its Huddersfield depot direct to Arriva. Its base in the West Yorkshire town had been part of Yorkshire Traction since 1969, passing to Stagecoach in 2005. K-Line had previously been an Arriva operation, bought back in 2000.

  • Vale of Llangollen sell to GHA Coaches. Wrexham-based GHA Coaches has purchased the business of Vale of Llangollen Travel. Half of the fleet of 22 vehicles is understood to be involved in the deal, with the remaining 11 being sold or scrapped. The firm's Cefnmawr is not included. The operation will pass to GHA's Ruabon HQ in Wrexham.

  • Free travel day for Yorkshire bus passengers. Stagecoach Yorkshire is planning a day where all bus passengers can travel for free on its services. Exactly one year ago, the firm commenced the largest service changes in its South and West Yorkshire operating area for more than 20 years. This has resulted in a 3.2% increase in passenger growth (equivalent to an additional 0.5 million journeys) and a 5% increase in adult passengers. Stagecoach admit that as a result of its wholesale alterations, not all passengers benefited, though with investment in over 30 new buses in the last year and more planned for this year, it hopes to have improved bus travel for the majority of its passengers.

  • Free travel for college go-ers in Northumberland. Northumberland's new ruling body - the LibDems - has scrapped their predecessor's plan to axe free local bus travel for sixth-formers and college students. The former Labour ruling body had chosen to scrap the concession after it claimed very few people were making use of the scheme.

  • Competing route axed in Preston. Preston Bus has withdrawn its Service 2 route - one of the two it operates in direct competition with Stagecoach in the city. Peter Bell, managing director for Preston Bus claimed the "pitiful" concessionary fares reimbursement by Merseytravel as the final nail in the coffin, claiming only £23 per day was being paid.

  • Wildcat strike in Liverpool. Over 100 bus drivers based at Arriva's Speke depot in Liverpool walked-out of their jobs in a wildcat strike on 8 May at 0600 in protest against revised working hours. Bus services to Liverpool's One shopping centre are to be extended and drivers do not want to see an increase in shifts between 1300-2100hrs. The depot's 120 vehicle fleet was believed to have been grounded as a result of the action, with services to the south of Liverpool mostly affected.

  • GM Buses/UK North bosses plead guilty. Vincenzo Casale and David Ellis, the managing director and traffic manager of defunct bus operator GM Buses and UK North, have pleaded guilty to giving false information about the number of hours their drivers worked. The both admitted a charge of conspiracy to defraud the traffic commissioner by giving false evidence. Their company was formed in 1994 and had operated solely in the Manchester area, competing directly with Stagecoach. The firm was brought to a public inquiry in December 2006 and its O Licence revoked in January 2007. The PI was told of how one of its buses was involved in the death of a man who'd fallen from a cherry-picker; two dawn raids took place on their premises where computer equipment was seized and taken away. The case against the driver of the bus who was involved in the death of the man falling from the cherry-picker was dropped.

  • Stagecoach lose NX diagram. Stagecoach East Kent's Dover depot is to lose one of its National Express overnight diagrams on Service 007 between Dover-London. It will pass to National Express' Crawley depot, who currently operate one return journey each day on Service 021 between the same points using an Ulsterbus coach.

  • Browns of Edinburgh banned from trading. Edinburgh-based Browns coach company has been forced to cease trading after the Scottish Traffic Commissioner banned its owner from holding an O Licence for four years following a Public Inquiry last month. During the PI it became apparent that the firm's owner, Alistair Brown, and his fellow operators of the company had falsified tachograph records and drivers' working hours; in so doing they had breached the European Working Time Directive.

  • Cross-London bus route planned. A cross-London river bus service is in the planning stages. The route is being considered in order to enhance local transport links and to strengthen the case for the proposed Cross River Tram project.

  • Highs and lows of Facebook. Bus operator Trent Barton has set-up a special Facebook page for its Red Arrow service (Nottingham-Derby(-Chesterfield). At the same time, members of the public joined a Facebook group named "NCT has gone too far" where they claim Nottingham City Transport's recent fares restructuring has resulted in massive increases in some fares. Activists have chosen to vent their anger by paying NCT's exact bus fares wholly in bronze coins (1p/2p) in order to cause delays to services. This has resulted in NCT posting a statement reminding passengers that, in line with the Royal Mint, bronze coins may only comprise a maximum of 20p towards each passenger's bus fares.

  • Stephensons to withdraw London commuter routes. Both London commuter coach services operated by Stephensons of Essex are to be withdrawn from 11 July. The routes link Southend with central London. Numbered X1 the main service can be traced back to the first day of coach deregulation when Southend Transport commenced operation of the route (6 October 1980). Stephensons cite the forthcoming Low Emission Zone and the current concessionary fares scheme as the main reasons behind withdrawing the route. Their 1996 Volvo B10M coaches would need upgrading for when the LEZ affects PCVs (7 July). The entire route is covered by the concessionary scheme, so while the inbound journey sees an OAP require to pay (pre-0930) they travel home for free and the reimbursement rate offered is "50% or less".

  • Boris to ban alcohol on TfL services. New Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, chose an alcohol ban on London's transport network as his first piece of legislation. From 1 June, drinking from, and carrying of, open containers of alcohol will be prohibited. Mayor BoJo claimed this would lead to a reduction in "more serious crime". Critics have said it will be impossible to police.

  • Doncaster bus depot to close. Stagecoach Yorkshire is to close its Doncaster depot, following substantial damage during the floods of last June. 12 maintenance and management jobs will go at the Milethorne Lane, Wheatley depot. Services are not to be affected and will be operated by neighbouring depots.