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Old 11th January 2017, 10:25   #61
AndyW33
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A lot of NBC areas got three figure bus routes in the late 1970s / early 1980s replacing single digit or two digit route numbers with the first digit representing a local area. Nowadays we are left with a mixture of those three digit numbers and simpler shorter numbers.
Mind you, a lot of bus companies that became part of NBC had three-digit area based numbers for many years previously. This applied to both BET and Tilling group companies - Midland Red was so large they had both three digit area based numbers, and routes with prefix letters, otherwise they'd have run out of numbers altogether.
In many cases there was a back-office reason for developing a company wide number system. As long as income and costs were allocated to routes entirely manually it didn't matter if numbers were duplicated as long as they weren't duplicated within a single depot's operations. As comptometers and then early computers came into use with centralised data inputting, there had to be a simple way of avoiding mixing up the data. This became even more important as smaller NBC subsidiaries were taken under the wing of larger ones with shared administration.
Now there was always a way round this. Although Ribble had an area numbering scheme they only used the numbers up to the end of the 6nn series. There were also routes with letter prefixes, both town services and schools/works services, as well as the extensive express network. There was a conversion chart for letter prefixed routes and internally these used the 7nn, 8nn and 9nn series, without affecting what was displayed on the bus, in timetable, or on crew duties. In effect this is what still happens nationwide today except that the conversion to distinguish duplicated route numbers is built into the data processing system, and the computer systems don't object to alpha numeric data. Either the ticket machine does the conversion, or it happens when the data is downloaded at the depot into the central systems, usually by adding a depot code field alongside the route number.
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Old 11th January 2017, 18:45   #62
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Originally Posted by JonathanH View Post
A lot of NBC areas got three figure bus routes in the late 1970s / early 1980s replacing single digit or two digit route numbers with the first digit representing a local area. Nowadays we are left with a mixture of those three digit numbers and simpler shorter numbers.
The NBC initiated MAPs in, I think, all their companies, though some were less complete than others. MAP stood for Market Analysis Project iirc, and all routes that were born this way sported three figure route numbers. Wasn't there some nonsense about computers not being able to cope with one or two digit numbers at that time, so route 7 would have to be 007, for instance? The same type of thinking that led to all the Millenium Bug scare.
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Old 11th January 2017, 19:26   #63
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The NBC initiated MAPs in, I think, all their companies, though some were less complete than others. MAP stood for Market Analysis Project iirc, and all routes that were born this way sported three figure route numbers. Wasn't there some nonsense about computers not being able to cope with one or two digit numbers at that time, so route 7 would have to be 007, for instance? The same type of thinking that led to all the Millenium Bug scare.
The three digit numbers predated the MAP schemes. The simple thing was it was a way in the big monoliths of avoiding duplication of numbers. It did have a basis in the early computing days, in the same way that some businesses renumbered their fleets to make things easier.

My local firm of my youth was United Automobile and it had theirs grouped in the following:

1-80 - SW and Central County Durham (plus North Yorkshire in Richmond 20's and 30's and Northallerton and Teesdale 70s)
91-160 - North Yorkshire
200 -220 - West Durham
221-299 - Cleveland
300 - South Northumberland/T&W
400 - Mid and North Northumberland
500 - Long distance Northumberland
600 - Tyne Valley and Carlisle
700 - North Durham (confined really to joint services with Northern)
800 - Schools services
900 - Works services

Note: the Carlisle services were renumbered whilst they were still United so before the transfer to Ribble in 1969

There were also exceptions as always in "border" areas so whilst Ripon services were numbered in mostly in the 130+ series, the main route was the 36 (and still is) because of West Yorkshire Road Car. There were other exceptions in T&W because of the local Corporation/PTE numbering plus they'll be a few others still

Note: Darlington had two Number 1s with a United route Darlington to Bishop Auckland (later to Crook and Tow Law) and a Corporation route from Red Hall Estate to Harrowgate Hill - how did people cope.....
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Old 12th January 2017, 16:27   #64
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Ribble was an interesting one
1-99 most of the Lancashire/Merseyside area, Merseyside area without prefix letter was joint service with MPTE
1xx Preston/Fyled/Lancaster
2xx East Lancashire, also Merseyside from 1978
3xx West Lancashire
4xx not sure
5xx Cumbria also some Morecambe/Lancaster
Cx Chorley local services
Fxx Fleetwood/Cleveleys local services
Lxx Liverpool area non joint services
Pxx Preston local services
Sxx Liverpool-Southport
Uxx Morecambe-Lancaster University
From early 80s X series express routes were renumbered into the 7XX branded Timesaver

May have been others i only have the Ribble South area timetable book from 1976

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Old 12th January 2017, 21:16   #65
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Originally Posted by Statto View Post
Ribble was an interesting one
1-99 most of the Lancashire/Merseyside area, Merseyside area without prefix letter was joint service with MPTE
1xx Preston/Fyled/Lancaster
2xx East Lancashire, also Merseyside from 1978
3xx West Lancashire
4xx not sure
5xx Cumbria also some Morecambe/Lancaster
Cx Chorley local services
Fxx Fleetwood/Cleveleys local services
Lxx Liverpool area non joint services
Pxx Preston local services
Sxx Liverpool-Southport
Uxx Morecambe-Lancaster University
From early 80s X series express routes were renumbered into the 7XX branded Timesaver

May have been others i only have the Ribble South area timetable book from 1976
At some point the Carlisle local services operated by Ribble were prefixed with C (certainly in the late 1960s) and rural routes in the area were 6xx. Eventually they all became 6xx, although I don't know exactly when and I can't lay my hands on my timetable collection at the moment.
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Old 12th January 2017, 21:36   #66
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Originally Posted by Statto View Post
Ribble was an interesting one
1-99 most of the Lancashire/Merseyside area, Merseyside area without prefix letter was joint service with MPTE
1xx Preston/Fyled/Lancaster
2xx East Lancashire, also Merseyside from 1978
3xx West Lancashire
4xx not sure
5xx Cumbria also some Morecambe/Lancaster
Cx Chorley local services
Fxx Fleetwood/Cleveleys local services
Lxx Liverpool area non joint services
Pxx Preston local services
Sxx Liverpool-Southport
Uxx Morecambe-Lancaster University
From early 80s X series express routes were renumbered into the 7XX branded Timesaver

May have been others i only have the Ribble South area timetable book from 1976
All P-prefixed services were joint services with Preston Corporation, in the sense that revenues were divided. In practice, certainly by the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the Corporation operated certain routes, like the P1 and the P3, and Ribble others, on an almost exclusive basis with the proviso that the 'other' operator could be asked to fill a duty at short notice. Thus my father-in-law, a Ribble employee, who lived on the P1 route sometimes reported a stray Ribble working on it. He didn't care, his Ribble staff pass allowed him free travel on all the P services regardless of the actual operator.
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Old 13th January 2017, 14:36   #67
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In practice, certainly by the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the Corporation operated certain routes, like the P1 and the P3, and Ribble others, on an almost exclusive basis with the proviso that the 'other' operator could be asked to fill a duty at short notice. Thus my father-in-law, a Ribble employee, who lived on the P1 route sometimes reported a stray Ribble working on it
It was common, in such joint operations, whether of one route or across a whole area, to have some initial agreement that say operator A did 57% of the mileage, B does 29%, and C does 14%. This is most commonly based on how things were split before the agreement was started. It's also then convenient for each operator to do the whole of certain routes, but this means over time you may start to get away from the agreed percentages, so there can be some oddball workings arranged from time to time to bring the mileage agreement back into balance. All the overall fare money would be pooled and split on this percentage basis as well, so it didn't matter who got to operate the more lucrative runs.

In Bristol in the 1960s the city bus and the country bus operations looked part of the same organisation but were legally separate. Summer Sunday afternoons used to see many city double deckers, and crews, borrowed for trips to Weston-Super-Mare etc, so to maintain the balance you would find country buses assigned to various city journeys to keep the mileage numbers straight - even to the extent that city crews would be standing idle while country crews were on overtime to handle it.
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Old 13th January 2017, 14:55   #68
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Talking of Bristol, the former Avon County Council numbered their subsidised services in the 5xx (city) and 6xx (country) series. Subsidised journeys on, say, city route 1 would be numbered 501 and those on country route 353 would be 653.

Did other areas use a similar system?
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Old 13th January 2017, 22:34   #69
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Talking of Bristol, the former Avon County Council numbered their subsidised services in the 5xx (city) and 6xx (country) series. Subsidised journeys on, say, city route 1 would be numbered 501 and those on country route 353 would be 653.

Did other areas use a similar system?
Yes, too many to enumerate. Some still do!
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Old 13th January 2017, 22:49   #70
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Originally Posted by Dai Corner View Post
Talking of Bristol, the former Avon County Council numbered their subsidised services in the 5xx (city) and 6xx (country) series. Subsidised journeys on, say, city route 1 would be numbered 501 and those on country route 353 would be 653.

Did other areas use a similar system?
Merseytravel area used 100-250 for subsidised services, although there were exceptions, although that's blurred nowadays as Merseytravel use commercial numbers, but still use 100-250.
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Old 14th January 2017, 01:40   #71
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I thought Cleveland used to start their subsidised services with a '9'.
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Old 14th January 2017, 16:24   #72
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Merseyside PTE era never developed the number system like other PTEs, 1-99 were operated by MPTE buses regardless of the area they operated, some were joint services with Ribble/Crosville/LUT/GMPTE.
1xx to 3xx were Ribble although MPTE did operate jointly the 320 with LUT & GMPTE, & the Warrington-St Helens-Skelmersdale-Southport route along with Crosville.
4xx Rapidride
5xx Limited Stop
5xx & 6xx were LUT/GMPTE routes in the St Helens area mainly around Earlstown & Newton Le Willows
Prefix letters were either Ribble or Crosville, although Crosville F routes solely in Wirral became 72-89, plus a 418/419 Heswall-Liverpool.

Quite weird some Ribble/Crosville drivers often displayed the suffix letter the wrong way around, quite often you'd see A57 instead of 57A on Ribble buses, you'd also see A80 instead of 80A on Crosville buses, & in that era A80 would normally be a Flintshire route.
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Old 14th January 2017, 21:55   #73
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Quite weird some Ribble/Crosville drivers often displayed the suffix letter the wrong way around, quite often you'd see A57 instead of 57A on Ribble buses, you'd also see A80 instead of 80A on Crosville buses, & in that era A80 would normally be a Flintshire route.
Dyslexic drivers?
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Old 15th January 2017, 06:42   #74
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Quite weird some Ribble/Crosville drivers often displayed the suffix letter the wrong way around, quite often you'd see A57 instead of 57A on Ribble buses, you'd also see A80 instead of 80A on Crosville buses, & in that era A80 would normally be a Flintshire route.
Simple. Both Ribble and Crosville blinds were meant to have letters and numbers on the first track and numbers only on the second and third tracks.
Municipal operators loved letter suffixes, company operators loved letter prefixes. If the municipal operator controlled the numbers of a joint service, you often ended up with A suffixes being displayed as A prefixes.
If you had 0-9 and a full alphabet on any track, it was a long slow wind to get from a 2 to an X, just one example. Ever wondered why West Midlands PTE specified 4 track blinds on their new vehicles? They had a limited range of letter prefixes, inherited from Midland Red (mainly B for Birmingham, S for Stourbridge and D for Dudley but there were others) plus numbers on the first track, numbers only on the second and third, and letters on the fourth.

So much easier with digital route number displays, when they're working of course.
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Old 15th January 2017, 12:09   #75
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When there's slight variations on the route between different services why do some routes get a letter suffix and others don't.

For example, the 27 Knutsford to Macclesfield route has 27A services (those operating via AstraZeneca) and 27B services (those operating via Beggarman's Lane) but on the more frequent 88 Knutsford to Wilmslow to Altrincham route they all run as 88 whether they divert off the main road to serve Morley Green village or remain on Altrincham Road to serve Waters Corp.
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