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Old 3rd January 2017, 15:21   #1
EbbwJunction1
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Default Bus Service Numbers

Something that has always puzzled me is the apparent randomness of the numbers applied to bus services.

My logical mind (what there is of it!) tells me that an operator would start at 1, then 2, then 3 and so on until all the services have been numbered. However, Newport Transport don't have a service 1 at present (they used to, but it finished a while ago) and start at 2. There's no services 3, 4, 5, 7 & 9 but there are services 8 and 10.

The haphazard numbers continue from there, but I won't list them all! Indeed, it looks as if when they introduce a new service, they start after the highest numbered existing service and don't attempt to fill in any gaps - even if the service number which they are "replacing" ceased to operate years before.

Is there a reason for this, or is it left to each operator to give whatever number they wish to their services? Thank you.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 15:28   #2
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Generally, the missing route numbers must have been previously used, before they were withdrawn/renumbered.

Also, maybe other operators in the area or nearby have taken up the number or similar (e.g. an X prefix) so go with another number to avoid confusion.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 16:32   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EbbwJunction1 View Post
Something that has always puzzled me is the apparent randomness of the numbers applied to bus services.

My logical mind (what there is of it!) tells me that an operator would start at 1, then 2, then 3 and so on until all the services have been numbered. However, Newport Transport don't have a service 1 at present (they used to, but it finished a while ago) and start at 2. There's no services 3, 4, 5, 7 & 9 but there are services 8 and 10.

The haphazard numbers continue from there, but I won't list them all! Indeed, it looks as if when they introduce a new service, they start after the highest numbered existing service and don't attempt to fill in any gaps - even if the service number which they are "replacing" ceased to operate years before.

Is there a reason for this, or is it left to each operator to give whatever number they wish to their services? Thank you.
Operators decide for themselves what to use (other than contracted services) and quite often started at 1 many many years ago. Remember, however, they are actually product references, not numbers as such (if you add two bus numbers together the result has no use). Making sure people are not confused by the number (by not reusing old ones or duplicating other operators) is more useful than following a 'logical' sequence.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 16:36   #4
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I think in the deregulated era an operator can choose any number they like for a route, even if it could cause confusion. For example, Liverpool currently has two number 14s - not two rival operators competing on the same route, but two completely different services. They both serve Queen Square bus station in the city centre, so hopefully nobody gets on the wrong one by mistake!

On the other hand, the free-for-all in numbering does allow for some creativity: like the Hadrian's Wall bus link which is numbered AD122.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 18:06   #5
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Generally, the missing route numbers must have been previously used, before they were withdrawn/renumbered
This seems to be the case with Nottingham City Transport. Their numbering evolved over time and largely had no recognisable pattern by 2001. The whole network was recast in that year, and numbers used in sequence, and groups of numbers representing the areas served. Over time since, gaps have once again appeared.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 19:41   #6
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Originally Posted by M28361M View Post
I think in the deregulated era an operator can choose any number they like for a route, even if it could cause confusion. For example, Liverpool currently has two number 14s - not two rival operators competing on the same route, but two completely different services. They both serve Queen Square bus station in the city centre, so hopefully nobody gets on the wrong one by mistake!

On the other hand, the free-for-all in numbering does allow for some creativity: like the Hadrian's Wall bus link which is numbered AD122.
The 14s in Liverpool have different stops at Queen Square & operated by different companies so quite easy to avoid confusion.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 20:02   #7
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Exeter City services are lettered rather than numbered. There is some logic i.e. A (Alphington), E (Exwick), P (Pennsylvania). However, these are all cross-city services to the logic doesn't apply at the other end of the route i.e. A (Thornpark Rise), E (Lancelot Road), P (Crossmead).

Then there are others, such as my local routes J & K (Countess Wear to Pinhoe). Not sure why these letters were chosen but it could be that logical alternatives are already allocated.

Other routes are based on road numbers. e.g. X38 Exeter - Plymouth broadly follows the A38.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 21:10   #8
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In Bristol route numbers are generally follow the route they use. For example the 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78 and 79 all go up Gloucester Road and the 1,2,3,4 all go up Whiteladies Road. However there are a number of exceptions to this.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 21:15   #9
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On the other hand, the free-for-all in numbering does allow for some creativity: like the Hadrian's Wall bus link which is numbered AD122.
The 925 service to Woking comes to mind as well



(but its actually not a real service )
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Old 3rd January 2017, 22:29   #10
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This seems to be the case with Nottingham City Transport. Their numbering evolved over time and largely had no recognisable pattern by 2001. The whole network was recast in that year, and numbers used in sequence, and groups of numbers representing the areas served. Over time since, gaps have once again appeared.
It wasn't totally logical though - I think the intention was to keep the same number on some routes that were well-known and weren't changing much, and create blocks of consecutive numbers around them for other routes in the same corridor. A couple that spring to mind are the 13 and the 35.

And for some reason one of the several who have run the Loughborough via Bunny route decided to give it number 9, which now clashes with NCT's 9 serving some, but not all, of the same stops in West Bridgford.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 22:30   #11
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Don't forget that if a council has contracted a service they can insist on a service number of their choosing.
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Old 3rd January 2017, 22:31   #12
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Ah, thanks for this; very interesting!
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Old 4th January 2017, 00:11   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EbbwJunction1 View Post
Something that has always puzzled me is the apparent randomness of the numbers applied to bus services.

My logical mind (what there is of it!) tells me that an operator would start at 1, then 2, then 3 and so on until all the services have been numbered. However, Newport Transport don't have a service 1 at present (they used to, but it finished a while ago) and start at 2. There's no services 3, 4, 5, 7 & 9 but there are services 8 and 10.

The haphazard numbers continue from there, but I won't list them all! Indeed, it looks as if when they introduce a new service, they start after the highest numbered existing service and don't attempt to fill in any gaps - even if the service number which they are "replacing" ceased to operate years before.

Is there a reason for this, or is it left to each operator to give whatever number they wish to their services? Thank you.
Most Newport bus routes appear to have been renumbered in the last few years. Until then, they had been little changed from the 1930s, when buses replaced the trams, e.g. Malpas-Dyffryn was route 3.

Manchester still has a few routes with numbers that date back to the tramways, including numbers 17/41/53/59. Trolleybus routes were renumbered in 210 series in the 1950s, e.g. route 26 along Ashton New Rd became 216. Others were renumbered in the mid-1960s when all Wilmslow Road routes were put into the 40-49 group, so for example the 40 bus (ex tram) was renumbered 50. Routes in surrounding towns were given prefix numbers when SELNEC was created, e.g. lower 400 series for Oldham routes, so that all numbers within the large operating area were unique, and were between 1 and 699. Many of these numbers have been retained by the big bus companies post-deregulation, but these and other operators have introduced new routes with identical lower numbers causing confusion.
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Old 4th January 2017, 00:41   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M28361M View Post
I think in the deregulated era an operator can choose any number they like for a route, even if it could cause confusion. For example, Liverpool currently has two number 14s - not two rival operators competing on the same route, but two completely different services. They both serve Queen Square bus station in the city centre, so hopefully nobody gets on the wrong one by mistake!

On the other hand, the free-for-all in numbering does allow for some creativity: like the Hadrian's Wall bus link which is numbered AD122.
In Scunthorpe, we have two weekday circular routes one running clockwise and one anti-clockwise both numbered 10, and number 11 is used for a completely different route (which used to be numbered 5 before being withdrawn and reinstated as number 11) and when I asked why it couldn't still be numbered 5 so that we don't have two number 10 circulars and instead could have the two 10s as 10/11 instead to avoid confusion, I was told to try asking the council.
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Old 4th January 2017, 00:48   #15
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Although there was exceptions, Liverpool in the Corpy/PTE era had 2 different routes in the City Centre to Pier Head the numbers finished with C or D, C was routes via Church Street, D was Dale Street, one way systems & Road pedestrianisations interfered with that, & most D routes were withdrawn at D-Reg ones left mostly followed C routes through the City Centre
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