01 July 2008

RMs quit Nottingham

Bellamy's Coaches of Nottingham can't be called a stagnant operator! Over the past years they've had very good success with their Nottingham-Skegness-Mablethorpe service; trialed a frequent Nottingham-Newark-Lincoln daily bus service and more recently commenced operation of Routemasters in Nottingham city centre. What other small operator is trying such a vast array of bus and coach services out?

Only the Nottingham-Skegness-Mablethorpe service remains today as the Lincoln service was withdrawn some months ago due to poor usage (East Midlands Trains operates a very frequent and fast service almost parallel to the route) and a couple of days ago the RMs were pulled off the road. In an article in the CBW trade magazine last week it was revealed that Bellamy's had a run-in with VOSA officials and had lost two O Licences so there would appear to have been maintenance issues surrounding the firm, too.

Quite a few people we spoke to where aghast that RMs were running in Nottingham, one LEYTR member thought that it put back public transport in the city by at least a decade and that went against everything Nottingham City Transport, Trent Barton et al had struggled to achieve over the past few years. RMs emit more fuel, cost more in terms of wages as two employees are needed per bus and if people simply do not use them what is the alternative other than to withdraw the service?

The RMs began operation on 7 April this year and operated from the city centre to Arnold - a route served very well indeed by NCT using state-of-the-art low floor vehicles to an average 5 minute frequency. NCT also offer a full range of unlimited travel tickets for regular passengers as well as cash fares for ad hoc customers. Cash payers are not given change and this must have been one aspect that Bellemy's thought they'd confront and satisfy with their RMs - conductors always give change! It would seem that the 15 minute frequency offered with the RM route, the fact that Nottingham was never a hot-bed of RM activity and so offered very little in terms of loyalty and nostalgia and that many, many people have weekly, daily and monthly tickets pre-purchased for travel on NCT's service between the two points effectively consigned the brave attempt to the drawing board.

We understand that although VOSA did not give Bellamy's authorisation to stop the service with immediate effect, the RMs have been removed without replacement.

RM photos by Perry Jest & Peter Bown