Bus depot routes

Status
Not open for further replies.

traingeek97

Member
Joined
7 Jun 2020
Messages
62
Location
Kent
Do bus depots have links in the same way that rail depots do? For example, I live in Kent where the same depot works a range of short 'commuter' routes as well as longer routes which cover several towns. Would all drivers learn all routes?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

L401CJF

Member
Joined
16 Oct 2019
Messages
411
Location
Wirral
Do bus depots have links in the same way that rail depots do? For example, I live in Kent where the same depot works a range of short 'commuter' routes as well as longer routes which cover several towns. Would all drivers learn all routes?
It varies from place to place.

For example some Arriva depots in Merseyside have (or had) "New Starter" rosters in which the newbies would only learn a handful of routes and only work those, after their probation period they would move up to the main work.

Some depots I believe very common in London, where drivers work one route permanently.
 

traingeek97

Member
Joined
7 Jun 2020
Messages
62
Location
Kent
It varies from place to place.

For example some Arriva depots in Merseyside have (or had) "New Starter" rosters in which the newbies would only learn a handful of routes and only work those, after their probation period they would move up to the main work.

Some depots I believe very common in London, where drivers work one route permanently.

Thanks for the reply. I imagine it might be the same close to me in Maidstone. How do bus drivers do route learning? Is it looking at maps and riding the route?
 

43055

Established Member
Joined
8 Mar 2018
Messages
1,941
Do bus depots have links in the same way that rail depots do? For example, I live in Kent where the same depot works a range of short 'commuter' routes as well as longer routes which cover several towns. Would all drivers learn all routes?
Like the post above says, it varies from place to place and maybe within the company. trentbarton is largely works off dedicated drivers for each route but it is not always the case as the villager and V3 share the same drivers as they use to be the same brand. It is possible for drivers to onto different routes at the same depot.

I would imagine Midland Classic which is the main operator in Burton on Trent would learn all the routes as most of the routes interwork on short local runs and longer town to town runs as well as school routes.
 

Megafuss

Member
Joined
5 May 2018
Messages
454
Do bus depots have links in the same way that rail depots do? For example, I live in Kent where the same depot works a range of short 'commuter' routes as well as longer routes which cover several towns. Would all drivers learn all routes?
It really depends on the operation.

For example a depot that has 90% Town routes and 10% rural will usually have that work on separate rotas as it's a waste of time training the vast majority of staff on a small number of routes.

At smaller locations such as outstation or small depots the drivers usually do everything from a main trunk routes to local village links and scholars

At some locations where you have an even mix of service types it may be better mixing them all together so everyone does everything.
 

L401CJF

Member
Joined
16 Oct 2019
Messages
411
Location
Wirral
Thanks for the reply. I imagine it might be the same close to me in Maidstone. How do bus drivers do route learning? Is it looking at maps and riding the route?
My route learning was covered on the training bus while out on lessons before passing my test with the first company i worked for (although I already knew the routes).

Where I work now the depot trainer takes you out in a van and covers all the routes etc then you sign the training record when you're happy. You get a copy of a route map and can take notes as you go etc. I also knew the routes before hand here, but just a formality.

When i have been on loan to other depots it has been a case of here's a list of routes you need, ride the route until you're happy with it.
 
Last edited:

Roger1973

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2020
Messages
132
Location
Berkshire
Another vote for 'it depends' / 'it varies'

Generally speaking, both duty schedules and rotas (these are the most common terms for it on the buses, although there will be exceptions) are at their most efficient when there's more in them, although form a human perspective there can be advantages to smaller rotas.

Smaller depots tend towards having a single rota. larger depots tend towards splitting work in to different rotas. Although the smallest of operations can go to the other extreme where each driver has a regular duty and maybe their own regular bus.

From the London perspective -

I'd agree with what's been said about London - it's broadly traditional for drivers (crews in the past) to stay on one route - as ever, there are exceptions - if some routes have a higher or lower proportion of weekend work (or occasionally spreadover / split duties) then there might be a rota for route X that includes a few duties on route Y, to balance this sort of thing.

In traditional London Transport days, there were quite a lot of cases where one garage only worked a particular route some days of the week, largely to balance weekend work between garages - for example in the 70s, the east London suburban route 86, which served big shopping town centres like Stratford and Romford, needed more buses / crew duties on Saturdays than it did during the week, so Upton Park had an allocation on Saturdays with buses and crews who worked route 15 or 23 during the week - the city commuter traffic wasn't there on Saturdays. Poplar garage in turn had a Saturday only allocation on the 23 because their route 40 had a lower requirement on Saturdays.

Then in the 90s most crew routes were OPO on Sundays, and this work ended up on an OPO route's rota - in turn that route that was OPO all week might have midi buses (especially before Sunday became a busy shopping day), or OPO buses from another garage on Sundays (Merton garage's Sunday allocation on the Putney route 22 lasted a long time after the weekday 22 went OPO and might have been one of the last survivors of this sort of allocation.)

There will be a few routes where either the duty schedule or rota doesn't work efficiently on its own, so there will be joint compilation (duties that can work more than one route) or joint rostering - although this can cause problems for the operator if one of those routes is lost at re-tender, and the drivers on that route aren't eligible for TUPE transfer to new operator because they aren't full time on that route, which may (depending on the current staffing levels) be a bit of an embarrassment.

Some operators have a mix of 'everything' rotas and 'early', 'middle' or 'late' rotas (sometimes it may be one route has multiple rotas, or there may be one 'early' rota for the whole garage) - this is a relatively new development.

Night bus work is usually to be on a separate rota, with some drivers working regular nights.

Even in London Transport days, there were some garages that had an 'all in' rota (obviously crew and OPO work was kept separate) rather than separate rotas for each route, and this had been standard practice in the tram / trolleybus division except at the largest depots where there might have been 2 or 3 rotas, each covering a group of services.

Some garages have a mix of standard and extended hours rotas - on some routes the duties work out best with 9 hour days rather than 8 hour days, so a garage may have a few rotas that offer drivers who want it to work a 45 hour week on a regular basis - or alternatively 4 long days a week, or 9 days a fortnight (although this gets complicated with weekly pay.) This again is a relatively new thing.

Outside London -

There's less of a tendency to stay on just one route (although this can happen with longer rural / interurban services) and there's more likely to be one 'town' rota (or routes grouped, so that there's one rota for the routes on one side of town, or one corridor) and rural routes may form their own rota, or again may be grouped for efficiency. It may be that 'rural' drivers will do a few 'town' journeys to make the duties up to the right amount of time, or to balance out Sunday work.

I'm aware of some operators where expecting drivers to do the same town route on both halves of a duty is not popular, let alone doing it all the time.

Ultimately, there isn't a simple answer, as every operator will be different, and there may be variety between garages of a single operator (particularly where today's operation had historically had been different operators.)

New starter rotas are another relatively recent thing - traditionally the newest drivers went on 'spare' which meant they had to know all the routes and types of vehicle, which could sometimes be a bit much (especially after drivers started as OPO drivers). Then in the late 80s, drivers tended to start on 'mini' and wait for a chance to go on to 'midi' then (eventually, maybe) 'big bus' - each stage coming with a pay enhancement.
 
Joined
15 Sep 2019
Messages
441
Location
Back in Geordieland!
Some very good replies here, generally speaking the bigger the depot, the greater the chance of drivers doing one route only. You would still want to know the other routes as you might want overtime on them. Doing one route only all day was my idea of hell.

New drivers are often given a rota with a smaller number of routes on them, when you first start there is a heck of a lot of stuff to take absorb in a short time.Sometimes old hands get nice fixed shifts, this seems to be a new thing locally. Also family friendly, I have a good mate on Monday to Friday 6am to 3pm, it going to be hard for her to go back to shifts.

The last rota I was on had 68 different routes at one point, 15 local service and the rest schools and works Despite being there 20 years I still used to go off route from time to time, usually when I was daydreaming of going home.
 

duncombec

Member
Joined
3 Sep 2014
Messages
380
Thanks for the reply. I imagine it might be the same close to me in Maidstone.
It seems as though drivers end up on all routes at Gillingham eventually, and the system seems to be a series of journeys on one route (or interworking) before the break, and a different route after break.

I know of a couple of drivers who used to have fixed shifts for whatever reason - they each did a school journey in the morning, then one did the primary school swimming contracts in the middle part of the day, and the other a supermarket free bus. I presume there were reasons for this (we're taking early 2000s), as the replacement drivers were usually the same faces as well.
 

neilmc

Member
Joined
23 Oct 2011
Messages
925
In the "old days" in Leeds the idea was that you started as spare conductor, then you learnt all the routes whilst taking fares, before you got to have a regular rota and then you would progress to being a driver, start on the spare rota and work up again. When they recruited drivers directly as OPO took hold that could be a bit of a problem but I believe the drivers sheets had the route printed on them, you just had to know where the roads actually were! Having a regular rota didn't mean you necessarily stayed on one group of routes all the time, as the peak requirements varied. Also there were the schools routes which were tacked on to duties starting/finishing at the depot and these sometimes included roads which didn't otherwise have a regular bus service.

The "top link" equivalent was the Senior rota which had slightly later starts and earlier finishes and could be on any route, but when I was at Torre Road in Leeds the senior crews preferred to be on the Kippax rota which took them out into the countryside.
 

L401CJF

Member
Joined
16 Oct 2019
Messages
411
Location
Wirral
Arriva Birkenhead for example up until 2017 when the routes were axed by Merseytravel, the new starters were on the "Low Cost Unit" rota, it had routes 118/119/218/219/418/419,175 and a couple of school runs. They were the least profitable routes so made sense to have the lower paid newbies on that during their probation, then after the 6 months they moved onto full pay and on the main rotas.

If I remember rightly there was the odd shift on this rota that involved doing other routes occasionally so drivers were only trained on the routes they needed to know.

You'll often see the same drivers on the same shifts in some depots, for example First (now Stagecoach) in Birkenhead had part time drivers specifically on school routes and the tesco free services, the same driver did the same shift each day for those.

But there's also for example permanent late rotas which are smaller than the main rotas and are lates only. There are fewer late duties than day duties, and the majority are covered by the late rotas so you'll generally see the same faces at night, apart from the odd few which are normal drivers working their late week.

You'll also find some drivers really like 1 duty in particular and will try and swap onto it where possible. Arriva Birkenhead when they did the 175 circular for example, the duty was a full day on this one small route, there was a driver in particular who loved it while few others did so he would usually swop onto it most days.
 

PeterC

Established Member
Joined
29 Sep 2014
Messages
3,287
I remember travelling on a journey with our local independent. A new driver was behind the wheel with an instructor who promptly sent him the wrong way potentially missing my stop.

Not helped by the structure of our village route which has a variable stopping pattern:
A - B - C -D - E - C- B - A
A - B - C - A
A - B - C -D and return
A - B - C - E and return
A - B - C - E - D and return
A - B - C - E - D - C - B -A
depending on departure and day. That is only half the route, there is as much variety on the other side. The whole seems to be split quite randomly between two route numbers which the drivers don't always bother to change on the blind anyway. It isn't unkown for drivers to go the wrong way round circular sections.
 
Last edited:

route101

Established Member
Joined
16 May 2010
Messages
8,620
First Glasgow have a few depots. The main one is Caledonia Depot. This depot took on the operations of the former Parkhead and Cumbernauld depots plus the existing Larkfield. The drivers rotas and routes are still separate and Cumbernauld is no2 operation and drivers cant easily work between the no1 and no2 operations.
 

Roger1973

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2020
Messages
132
Location
Berkshire
The "top link" equivalent was the Senior rota which had slightly later starts and earlier finishes and could be on any route, but when I was at Torre Road in Leeds the senior crews preferred to be on the Kippax rota which took them out into the countryside.

This is another strand to it.

Where rotas have work on the same pay grade (as in without complications like crew / OPO, or separate rates for mini / midi / full size bus) then it's traditional for choice of rota to be down to seniority and / or length of time on a waiting list to go on to that rota.

And (while obviously individuals' preferences will differ) at most locations there tends to be a route / rota that's seen as preferred, and ends up as mostly home to more long-service drivers / crews.

This piece on the 'red RF' website has more about how it worked at Muswell Hill London Transport garage in the 1960s - at the stage where even the single deck routes were crew operated, many senior crews opted to work on those single deck routes (although the attraction of Routemasters with power steering and better heating did cause some to opt for a move back to busier routes.)

At many garages, the night bus routes (which at that time mostly didn't run on Saturday nights, so offered regular 5 - 6 nights a week and all at 'unsocial hours' pay rates) tended to be done by senior crews / drivers.

In to the 80s on LT, senior crews tended towards the more suburban routes that were still crew operated rather than the routes that crossed central London (even though this may have led to marginally lower take-home pay, as there were fewer very early / late shifts that attracted pay enhancements.) As OPO conversions continued, the older crews (like the older buses) moved back to the busiest routes unless they took the option to leave.

Now, most London operators pay rates are based on length of service rather than size of bus, so some senior drivers will opt for a back street midi-bus route rather than a preferred big bus route.

And again (as has been mentioned) there will be some special cases - possibly more common now than in the 70s and 80s - part time drivers were quite a rarity in the larger companies, most now have some (either small number of hours per day, sometimes round school runs, or less days per week - possibly for 'semi retired' drivers, or those with family / caring commitments), and most operators will have a few drivers on regular duties or regular duty type, again often to suit caring responsibilities.

I believe one or two operators do allow drivers with more than X amount of service to opt for a regular working week, although this isn't all that common.
 

L401CJF

Member
Joined
16 Oct 2019
Messages
411
Location
Wirral
Another example is Stagecoach at depots which have a mix of Gold and Standard routes. A lot of them used to (unsure if they still do) have drivers specifically on gold work and others on normal. Chester and Wirral gold routes are worked by all staff on standard rotas.
 

Whisky Papa

Member
Joined
8 Aug 2019
Messages
256
Back in the early 1980s when I was compiling schedules for Greater Manchester Transport, it was the norm for garages to have one main rota covering all routes with a few others for varied special purposes. The main rota at a big garage like Princess Road or Stockport would run to over 300 weeks, so there was no chance of working very much of it before my colleagues and I came along and changed it! Smaller rotas, perhaps getting down to only six weeks, would cover the remaining crew work. The garages close to central Manchester would also have short crew rotas covering the all-night routes, and OPO rotas covering the Centreline route (4) that was shared between them. Some also had short rotas that consisted entirely of split turns M-F only, which was a good number financially if you lived reasonably close to the garage, as spreadover payments were still paid on splits. Individual duties would normally cover different routes in the course of the day - in fact the Union pretty much insisted on it other than at Northenden, who were quite happy to trek up and down between Wythenshawe and Manchester on the same route all shift. One other oddity of Northenden was their handful of remaining crews simply worked their way through the OPO rota rather than having one of their own.

Bee Line Buzz Company was my first driving job, and they had strictly segregated rotas for each route, presumably so they could be tweaked relatively easily as the commercial situation dictated. You could work other routes on a rest day if you wished, but few did. On the plus side, they did remove the split turns (which didn't pay spreadover!) into a separate rota, which at least saved me from 14-hour days.

Moving to Yorkshire Rider was a bit different - Halifax had (and I assume still does have) numerous short rotas each covering a group of routes or some special function. However, at Todmorden all the work had been consolidated into one OPO rota and one for the tendered minibus routes in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. This remained the case for the years I was there, but similar to the situation #Roger1973 mentioned above re London, pay eventually was based on service length rather than vehicle type. With the company (now First Calderline) very keen to put new drivers on lower pay onto OPO work, eventually they accepted there was nothing to stop higher-rate older drivers driving minibuses. I did this for my final two years there, along with several other senior drivers, although we still drove on OPO work when spare or for overtime.
 
Last edited:

Eyersey468

Member
Joined
14 Sep 2018
Messages
969
Thanks for the reply. I imagine it might be the same close to me in Maidstone. How do bus drivers do route learning? Is it looking at maps and riding the route?
With us sometimes it's a case of being shown on map but newbies are sent out with a mentor for 10 days or so to route learn and get a feel for the job, so the mentor tells you the route, where the stops are etc as the mentee drives. I've been with the company since 2007 and over the years have covered at every depot.
 

buses7675

Member
Joined
17 Jul 2010
Messages
43
Stagecoach Merseyside Gillmoss - all drivers tend to know all the main routes from the start

Other routes such as Merseytravel tenders and contracts such as the Edge Hill Uni bus etc only a smaller number of drivers who are on them regularly would know them.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top