Allocation of bus route numbers

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GuyBarry

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Who is responsible for allocating numbers to bus routes? Is it entirely a matter for the individual bus company, or does the local authority have any influence? What would happen if two rival companies wanted to use the same number on different routes in the same area?

Also, what counts as the "same" route? For example, here in Bath the Wessex Connect 5 route is identical to the First 5 route except in the city centre, where it is diverted away from First's bus station (I presume either for contractual or cost reasons). Could Wessex Connect vary the route at other points if they wished to?
 
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Deerfold

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Generally, outside London, bus comanies can use any number they like for their routes. If a route is contracted to a council, the council will often specify the number to be used.

Some areas broadly retain the numbering systems used pre-nationalisation - e.g in West Yorkshire the initial number usually referred to the area bus ran in - 3xx Huddersfield, 5xx Halifax, 6xx Bradford etc.

However some companies choose to ignore this (and indeed there are contacted routes in West Yorkshire which don't comform to the numbering system any more).

There are several areas which have identically numbered routes in close proximity which may or may not be similar.

In West Yorkshire, Centrebus runs journeys on 301 and 302 during the day in competition with the First routes with the same number.

Companies have gone to court claiming to own a number, with variable results. I think most have lost.
 

Schnellzug

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I think usually the Bus companies decide for themselves. Often (like some of the First S&A routes, eg 184, 231, 263), they're the old numbers from NBC days, and when new town networks were introduced they'd usually number them from 1. When a competitor comes along, I don't think there's anything to stop them using the same, or a very similar number (eg 10/X10).
In London, again they're mostly historical hangovers, going back to the days of the General, although several have been rationalised in more recent years. TfL is probably responsible for allocating new route numbers, but to redraw the whole thing from scratch would cause an inordinate amount of confusion, I dare say.
 

Andrew Nelson

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There is the same confusing situation in West Yorkshire, in Dewsbury the 205 goes from Dewsbury - Pudsey, or Mirfield, (opposite directions different Companies) and in Leeds there were the X62s to either Huddersfield, or Hull, (opposite directions, same Company).
 

martinsh

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There is the same confusing situation in West Yorkshire, in Dewsbury the 205 goes from Dewsbury - Pudsey, or Mirfield, (opposite directions different Companies) and in Leeds there were the X62s to either Huddersfield, or Hull, (opposite directions, same Company).
Thats because 205 Mirfield - Pudsey was oringally a through route.

The X62 Leeds to Huddersfield was the first one (a variant of 262), when the Leeds - Hull route started using the M62, it was natural to use the number X62.
 

Deerfold

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Thats because 205 Mirfield - Pudsey was oringally a through route.

The X62 Leeds to Huddersfield was the first one (a variant of 262), when the Leeds - Hull route started using the M62, it was natural to use the number X62.
And I suspect Stagecoach Hull were trying to avoid confusion with the (at the time) Leeds - White Rose - M62 - Halifax service M62.
 

Statto

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It's up to the bus company what numbers they have. When there there is duplicate numbers, check the destination the bus is going to first.

Until Arriva brought out MTL, Merseyside used to have local numbers which duplicated, Arriva changed the numbers in Merseyside as there computers at the time couldn't cope with duplicate numbers.

Chester have quite a few duplicate numbers, & operated by the same company(s), however all the duplicate numbers stop at different stops.
 

Ivo

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At lot of areas still use numbers that hark back to national days. In Essex you will note that new routes in Chelmsford will still tend to have 30/40/50 -series numbers, for instance. But for the most part, the operators do choose themselves, as others have said.

I think usually the Bus companies decide for themselves. Often (like some of the First S&A routes, eg 184, 231, 263), they're the old numbers from NBC days, and when new town networks were introduced they'd usually number them from 1. When a competitor comes along, I don't think there's anything to stop them using the same, or a very similar number (eg 10/X10).
Never used the 263 :shock:
 

Lrd

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First bus in Southampton have just re-numbered their entire network and now we have many numbers which are used by First and Bluestar, I can see it getting confusing for some people!
 

W-on-Sea

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There often seems to be a certain value in the maintenance of "traditional"/long-lived route numbers.

One example that springs immediately to mind to demonstrate this: when London Country was split up into four companies, and each privatized post-1986, the old South-Eastern sector sought to make a big and visible break with the past: they changed their name to Kentish bus, adopted an radical new, and completely non-green livery, and renumbered all their routes (which mostly had numbers in the 4XX series dating back to LTE days, ie pre-1970 and in many cases decades earlier than that) to a new series starting at 1...

All of which just confused everyone. Within a few years most of the routes had got their traditional numbers back (and Kentish bus themselves briefly introduced a livery with green in - before succumbing to Arriva).

I can also think of numerous examples of new routes being introduced and being given the same numbers as routes previously withdrawn (in some cases quite some years earlier) that were broadly the same: the 61 or now the 67 in Southend would be examples of that, the 150 and 199 in London also (the latter having "come back" on a similar route at least twice, I think)
 

trentside

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In recent years, some routes around here have been restored to their National numbers - for example, the 103 from Scunthorpe to Lincoln was re-numbered back from RoadCar's 353.

We do have two routes with the same number in Lincoln, one Stagecoach's commercial 10 from Lincoln to Louth and the other the County Council funded service 10 from Lincoln to Horncastle via Bardney, run by PC Coaches. This problem is alleviated by PC Coaches not showing the route number on their destination displays - just the destination.
 

Deerfold

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In Halifax the 5xx system of numbering local routes lasted well for many years - and still applies to most routes.

Generally new bus companies did not follow the convention (competition came quite late to Halifax with no serious competition in the 80s).

TJ Walsh (Halifax Bus company) which had run a couple of occasional buses decided to go for memorable route numbers and had the 300, 400, 600, 700, 525, 555 (interestingly they did 'respect' the fact there was already a 500 in Calderdale even though it doesn't go into Halifax).

Then Halifax Joint Comittee went for the nostalgia trip, with open back buses, conductors and really old route numbers resurected - 28A, 31, 34, 36 (and then some odd exact routes of First buses with the 376 competing with the 576, the 392 with the 592 and the 509 competing with the 681 and part of the route of the 508).

Sadly the conductors and heritage buses disappeared though several routes remain, now run by centrebus.
 

GuyBarry

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Thanks for all the replies. Seems odd that numbering is entirely unregulated outside London since I'd have thought that there would be significant scope for confusion. For example, with multiple operators running identically numbered services along the same route, some passengers might be under the impression that one operator's tickets were valid on another operator's services.

How were route numbers allocated in the first place anyway? There doesn't seem to be any pattern to them in most cases - routes with consecutive numbers rarely seem to go anywhere near each other.
 

Schnellzug

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Thanks for all the replies. Seems odd that numbering is entirely unregulated outside London since I'd have thought that there would be significant scope for confusion. For example, with multiple operators running identically numbered services along the same route, some passengers might be under the impression that one operator's tickets were valid on another operator's services.

How were route numbers allocated in the first place anyway? There doesn't seem to be any pattern to them in most cases - routes with consecutive numbers rarely seem to go anywhere near each other.
I think they probably just came on a 'first come first served' basis; the first route that was started up in an area would usually be number 1 and so on (or rather, would probably be numbered later on, when they began to get more organised). That seems to be how it was in London; most of the route numbers even now cann trace their ancestry back to horse bus days. Then when the big groups (Tilling, then NBC) came along, they'd have been grouped together and put into a common series (something that big operators ought to do now, if you ask me, since if you look for, say First in Somerset route 1,2, 3 or 4 etc you get offered various routes in Bath, Bristol, Taunton etc).
With First S&A, incidentally, those in the Taunton area (21, 30, 38 etc) were inherited from Southern National; I suppose they didn't want to confuse everyone by completely renumbering everything. In Weymouth, town services had letters when they were operated by Minibuses (A, B, C) and were numbered when they were promoted to Mercedes 709s (:p). The most lucrative route, to Portland, was no.1, and so on and henceforth.
 

johnnychips

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I like the idea that a service beginning with 'X' implies speed. Try getting the X78 from Donny to Sheffield! Years ago it and the X77 were limited stop services, and the X77 avoided Conisbrough.
 

Andrew Nelson

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I like the idea that a service beginning with 'X' implies speed. Try getting the X78 from Donny to Sheffield! Years ago it and the X77 were limited stop services, and the X77 avoided Conisbrough.
Dont forget the x19.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Thats because 205 Mirfield - Pudsey was oringally a through route.

The X62 Leeds to Huddersfield was the first one (a variant of 262), when the Leeds - Hull route started using the M62, it was natural to use the number X62.
Actually the X62 to Hull was first, but I get your point.
 

aformeruser

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Why was Stagecoach's X2 Preston to Liverpool changed to 2X Preston to Southport & X2 Southport to Liverpool when really non of the route is Express, especially the Southport to Liverpool section?
Is it limited stop i.e. some bus stops the bus won't stop at?

Incidentally, I don't know why the express services to Liverpool Airport don't have an X number.
 
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