Bus Service Numbers

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by EbbwJunction1, 3 Jan 2017.

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  1. EbbwJunction1

    EbbwJunction1 Member

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    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.
     
  2. J-2739

    J-2739 Established Member

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    Generally, the missing route numbers must have been previously used, before they were withdrawn/renumbered.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.
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2017
  3. carlberry

    carlberry Member

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    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.
     
  4. M28361M

    M28361M Member

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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. :)
     
  5. nottinghamcity

    nottinghamcity Member

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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.
     
  6. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    The 14s in Liverpool have different stops at Queen Square & operated by different companies so quite easy to avoid confusion.
     
  7. Wolvercoter

    Wolvercoter Member

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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.
     
  8. ooo

    ooo Member

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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.
     
  9. mbreckers

    mbreckers Member

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    The 925 service to Woking comes to mind as well

    [​IMG]

    (but its actually not a real service :( )
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2017
  10. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    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.
     
  11. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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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.
     
  12. EbbwJunction1

    EbbwJunction1 Member

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    Ah, thanks for this; very interesting!
     
  13. daodao

    daodao Member

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    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.
     
  14. 175mph

    175mph Member

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    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.
     
  15. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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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
     
  16. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    In some areas numbers go back to tram days. Doubtless there's been a thread on here at some point that has invited suggestions for the longest established service.

    Some operators use words for the route number like the ridiculous 'Mickleover blue' or 'cityzap' as used by Trent and Transdev.
     
  17. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    Most numbers were started by Municipals/Corporations which started from 1 upwards, normally 1 to 99, what became National Bus Company mostly 100 plus with some numbers that had prefix letters, although some NBC numbers were less than 100.

    the PTE era, all PTEs inherited quite a few corporation transport companies with duplicated numbers so most PTEs developed a number scheme from 1 to above 500, Merseyside was the only area that still had local numbers only Arriva renumbering most routes after they brought MTL. SELNEC/GMPTE inherited about 8 corporations so devised a scheme from 1 to 6xx depending where the bus operated.

    Crosville was one that started with letters, then as the network grew letters became numbers normally 100 plus, however in 1959 Crosville decided to renumber all there network with prefix letter instead so
    Axx was North Wales Coast
    Bxx Flintshire
    Cxx Chester
    Dxx Wrexham
    Exx East Cheshire
    Fxx Wirral
    Gxx Wrexham Works or School services
    Hxx Liverpool & Halton
    Jxx some Halton joint services
    Kxx Crewe, Nantwich
    Lxx Limited Stop
    Mxx Rhyl, Llandudno, Conwy
    Nxx Bangor, Anglesey
    Rxx Pwllheli, Porthmadog
    Sxx Aberystwyth, Barnmouth
    Txx Runcorn Busway
    In 1979 journeys wholly in the Wirral area which were Fxx series were renumbered between 72 & 89.
     
  18. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Thanks for that summary. I only ever used to encounter Crosville in the pages of Buses 30-odd years ago and considered the route numbering utterly unfathomable.
     
  19. SCH117X

    SCH117X Member

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    Another operator who used a prefix letter was Midland General and equally seemed to be utterly unfathomable.

    Harrogate & District did use a B prefix for services to the suburb of Bilton in the 1990s, marketed as Buzz around on Bilton Bee - B1 & B1A being clockwise and anti clockwise services around a dumbbell route in the suburb and now, with a slight variation, being route 2A in an anti clockwise direction only. The B2 was a short working along part of the dumbbell, and the B3 and B4 two further dumbbell routes serving separate parts of the suburb - now combined together as route 2B. B5 was an evening route around the suburb now abandoned in favour of the 2A while the B6 was one of those odd mopping up services taking a very staggered route that I think must have been funded by NYCC and was axed long ago. The B numbering was replaced by numbers in the 200s, while the rest of the towns services were numbered in the 100s - this arose from running the Knaresborough services through to Bilton, or Jennyfield which led to confusion as B1 or B1A was used solely on services towards Bilton only and all other journeys used the 1 or 2 of the Knaresborough service. The resolution was to number Knaresborough-Jennyfield (and return) service as 101 and 102 and those to and from Bilton as 201 and 202. Subsequent time keeping problem saw the through services axed and the Jennyfield service which had previously been service 7 becoming 103 and now 3 with the axing of the 100/200 numbers. The Knaresborough services remained as 101 and 102, with the 102 route in the Knaresborough suburbs being split into two separate routes 100 and 102. Today the Knaresborough services are 1A, 1B and 1C with short workings running as 1.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  20. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Chester is bad for duplicated route numbers - at one time I think there were three Route 4s, all of which ran along the same street in the city centre!

    Even today a 1 can take you to Wrexham, or Liverpool, or Blacon!
     
  21. Statto

    Statto Established Member

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    Weirdest named one is Transdev Lancashire 152 Preston-Burnley which is also known as Hotline, at least Red Express, Whichway, Mainline names make a bit of sense, Hotline makes no sense.
     
  22. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    Originally, Liverpool allocated nos. 1 - 49 for tram services, and 50 upwards for motor bus services.

    For the bus services, there was initially allocation blocks of numbers according to the areas served by the buses to/from the city centre.
    For example, "5x" routes went towards the Bootle / Litherland / Seaforth areas.
    "6x" Fazakerkey / Norris Green
    "7x" Wavertee / Childwall / Huyton
    "8x" Smithdown Road / Aigburth Road / Speke.

    It was not totally simple, as "cross-city" buses used the same blocks of numbers. So, and which still exists in modified form, 61 was Aigburth Vale - Old Swan - Seaforth (in 1939, according to "Liverpool Transport" by JB Horne & Bruce Maund.

    As trams were withdrawn, replacement bus routes sometimes used the same numbers. After the trams had gone, any new bus routes might use "vacancies" in the number series.
     
  23. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Witchway makes more sense! Whichway just sounds lost.

    I don't see how Hotline makes less sense than Mainline.
     
  24. Andyh82

    Andyh82 Member

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    Hotline hasn't replaced the actual number, despite how eager the current management would be to do this.

    It doesnt work scrapping the number Trent Barton style as in various situations the brand has to be abbreviated, so you end up with RA, TP, SKY, CC, IGO, IF etc used on departure screens, apps, journey planners etc.
     
  25. MotCO

    MotCO Member

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    I think that there is much history associated with individual bus route numbers, and passengers do not like changes to the the numbers they know and love. As an example, London Country routes south of the Thames were generally in the 4XX series. When London Country was broken up for privatisation, Kentish Bus took over the routes in the SE London borders/NW Kent area and tried to renumber the routes. The 477 became the 17, the 402 became the 22 and so on.

    However, within a short time they reverted to the old familiar numbers!
     
  26. CatfordCat

    CatfordCat Member

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    What made it more entertaining is that the public had - on some routes - the choice between green buses running on the route numbers that had been in place since the mid 30s or yellow / maroon buses on route new route numbers.

    The green 477s were Transcity - picture (not mine) here
     
  27. PeterC

    PeterC Member

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    Bucks CC brokered a joint service between High Wycombe and Chesham by Carousel and Arriva as route 1. They continue to different local destinations in Chesham and are branded Red1 and Blue1. Confusing for passengers when Carousel substitute one of their blue school service vehicles.

    I remember at my aunt's in South Wales in thr 60s, Western Welsh didn't display route numbers at all, just the final destination.
     
  28. Dai Corner

    Dai Corner Member

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    Looking at Newport Transport's map there is some logic in that

    15/16/17/18/19 go up Malpas Road to Bettws and Malpas
    26/27/28/29 go along Caerleon Road to Caerleon / Cwmbran
    30/34/35/36/37 go along Cardiff Road to Cardiff, Duffryn, Celtic Springs and Rhiwderin
    42/43 go down Corporation Road to Lliwerry and Spytty Park
    73/74 go along Chepstow Road to Chepstow

    Although after that it falls down as, for example, the Alway and Ringland services which also use Chepstow Road are 6 and 8, the 60 goes to Monmouth via Caerleon but the 62 and 63 go to the villages on the eastern fringes if Newport.

    NAT have numbered their Newport services sequentially N1/N2/N3 etc

    Stagecoach is just a mess with oddities such as the 15 and X15 being completely different routes - a legacy of takeovers and mergers over the years.

    http://www.newportbus.co.uk/_literature_132686/NEWPORT_BUS_ROUTES_MAP_OCT_2016
     
  29. glbotu

    glbotu Member

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    Before the busway, Cambridge used to have 2x 1,2,3 which all stopped in the city centre. It's because the "Citi" buses were technically "Citi 1", but if you weren't particularly vigilant, you definitely could have gotten on the 1 to Huntingdon. (This now runs, I believe, as the 1A).
     
  30. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    The Busway routes are now just single letters - A, B, C, R and U (though R and U only use the southern Busway).

    Whippet still runs a 1A to St Ives which does not use the Busway.
     
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