Council owned bus companies in 2012

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by robertclark125, 11 Nov 2011.

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  1. robertclark125

    robertclark125 Established Member

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    It's that time of the year again, when I list how many council owned bus companies there are, and get everyone to predict how many will be left at the end of the next year.

    Like TV rental shops, council owned bus firms are now very rare, a much reduced, though survivng trade. The remaining council owned firms are, as follows:

    Scotland - Lothian Buses

    Wales - Cardiff Bus, Newport Transport

    England - Blackpool Transport, Network Warrington, Rossendale, Halton Transport, Ipswich Buses, Reading Transport, Thamesdown, Nottingham City Transport

    Thus a total of ten.

    The thing is, how many will be on this list come the end of 2012?
     
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  3. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    Psst: There's 11 there ;)

    I can't see any of those changing hands this year. I would certainly hope as much anyway :| (Well, maybe not BPT arfter the tram malarkey ;))

    Having read up on Halton, I must say that their fleet is painfully boring :shock:
     
    Last edited: 11 Nov 2011
  4. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    I predict Halton to be bought by Stagecoach within 12 months.
     
  5. 90019

    90019 Established Member

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    I doubt we'll be seeing Lothian coming off that list anytime soon.
     
  6. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    Is it reasonably possible to divide that list into successes and strugglers?

    Successes would obviously include Lothian and probably Cardiff, maybe Reading and Nottingham? All seem to be fairly fruitful ventures to the casual observer, well established in their marketplaces and with decent fleets of good buses.

    Are there any strugglers, or at least 'plodders along'? I would be most familiar with Blackpool Transport, who I'dd say have the feel of a slightly dated and misguided operation who would benefit from an injection of modern thinking. The recent new livery, for example, is awful :|

    How are the rest doing?!
     
  7. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    I can give a response to a couple of these.

    Beginning with Ipswich, they have a (mostly) modern fleet and manage their own bus station, Tower Ramparts, which although sometimes subject to congestion is a far more passenger-friendly and modern facility than the other bus station at the Old Cattle Market (one of the worst I have ever used). They do not however have sole access to the local market, although First services (the former Eastern Counties operation) are concentreated on areas of Ipswich to the east, especially those beyond the council boundary which invariably goes some distance explaining that; having said that though, they do run a multitude of routes at least thrice an hour and have a good supply of low-floor double deck vehicles. (If only the same could be said of route 2, which serves the Transport Museum...)

    The other obvious one I can answer to would be Thamesdown, although I have to confess that, for all the times I have travelled through and into Swindon, I have never actually used any service they operate. Given that they have quite a substantial level of competition from Stagecoach, they seem to be coping quite well. It is probably true that the primary local route in the town is the 7, which is operated by the "outsiders", but the network is very well integrated. I have to say that I would not suggest that Thamesdown could be considered a success story in the same way as those listed (I would probably suggest Ipswich are fifth), not least because of the competitive nature of the operation, but they are running without any particular issues.

    One thing that does get me with some council operations is the insistence on exact fares. Although not an issue for me personally by the time I got round to travelling with Ipswich (I had had my pass for literally four weeks at that point), it has caused me some issues in Cardiff and as a result I always go by PlusBus as a precaution, thereby making the Welsh capital the only place I have ever used such a ticket.

    Unfortunately however, I have to agree with the critisicm of Blackpool. Once again on this forum (it is becoming quite a common taking point!) we are looking at Blackpool in consideration to other operations and destinations and once again they come off badly. I am not going to give another lecture on the economy of the town (here), but they do need to - if you will forgive the slang terminology - buck their ideas up. The network is confusing, run with many ageing vehicles [sounds like another resort I know :lol:] and often subjected to inappropriate routes and early finishes. The council and company need to accept that the way forward in Blackpool is not by sticking 16 new Flexity Swifts on the seafront, but by investing in their road transport division. And until that happens, Blackpool will always be an example of a municipal company that does not look like such a good prospect in the medium to long term.
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2011
  8. fgwrich

    fgwrich Established Member

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    Reading Buses i have to say can be abit of a funny one!

    Not helped by council cutbacks at the moment, and the increase of the larger companies in the area - First, and now Go Ahead through their acquisition of Thames Travel, could be in with a chance if council politics change again - Reading has scaled back some of it's operations already though effectively a close of the Newbury Buses side - with all but 2 or 3 of the Newbury routes transferred to Weavaway Travel's Newbury & District arm - Who also now operate the Route 1 for Reading Buses in a deal which see's the Enviros working that route in a Reading Based livery with Jet Black branding and reading fleet numbers.

    But one thing i don't really understand with Reading Buses, they do appear to also like spending a fair amount of money on vanity – Both in terms of livery and fleet, The latest buses Mag has details of a 06 Plate Scania now in use with another operator already! Reading seems to have this bizarre case of buying up a fleet of brand new vehicles, using them for 4/5 and up to 6 years, before selling them on still in incredibly good condition - Yeah im sure they get a pretty good return on their investments, but why keep replacing a fairly new fleet every few years?

    But apart from that, each and every time ive used Reading buses, they have been very very good – Vehicles are almost always new (no surprise!) and clean, always smartly presented both internally and externally, but one of the very few let downs as pointed out by IVO, is this correct change only policy – not very helpful after a quick pre/post match pint at the 3 Gunnies / couple of pints at the match and a reading bus turns up instead of First! :lol: :roll:

    Unfortunately, in this day and age though i think that over the next year or so, that list will be reducing by at least another 2 – As already suggested, Halton potentially being one of them, Rossendale? Network Warrington? Who Knows…?

    And by the sounds of your post IVO, Looks like Blackpool could do with a pretty substantial Reading style revamp - Fancy some fairly new 06 Plate Scanias up there?
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2011
  9. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Newport bus are doing very well. They have just launched a few new routes as well as taking a few from Veolia.

    Cardiff Bus are also doing well although they are having a bit of competition with Newport bus.
     
  10. Ivo

    Ivo Established Member

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    I've been to Blackpool once :lol: It should be said that, as municipal standards go, their fleet is pretty old. Plenty of Optare Excels up there, running all manner of routes. Worse (or better? - from the enthusiast's perspective at least) still was that I went on a "B"-reg Olympian up there. But if I then said that my one sojourn was summer last year...!

    Can't Southend have the Scanias instead? Would be a darn sigh better than most of the junk back home. Even if they are getting some brand new Versas...
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    As an extra about BPT, consider their network map. How many other operations have such an awkward network? I appreciate that radial routes aren't always the most popular, but these seem so "out-of-the-way" to me. Or maybe it's just they way they've drawn it, in which case they need a new design team.
     

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    Last edited: 12 Nov 2011
  11. Sheepy1209

    Sheepy1209 Member

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    That Blackpool bus map is an abomination - it was created as a 'temporary' measure when the services were disrupted by roadworks on the prom, but never replaced.

    Much better maps are here: http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/view.asp?siteid=4404&pageid=29471&e=e - but of course no link is given on the BPT website :roll:

    More thoughts to follow - but my battery's about to die:idea:

    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    As a regular user of buses around Blackpool, and a lapsed enthusiast, I think Blackpool Transport has the feel of an independent rather than the proud and solid municipal it once was. There's always something of interest about its fleet, but it leads to a 'bitty' feel (I was a student in Southampton in the 1980s when every single bus was an Atlantean; it was boring, but somehow gave the impression of a slick operation).

    Some of the older buses really let the side down - such as the Palatine II-bodied Olympians, which feel cheap and basic. But generally the fleet's OK if a little unpredictable.

    However, I find the services to be slow - it takes me 45 - 60 minutes to cycle from my home in Cleveleys to work in St Annes. Driving takes 30 - 45. The bus takes at least an hour and twenty, not including time walking to the stop and assuming the change of buses in town goes smoothly. That's an average of about 7mph. In the mornings much of that time is spent waiting for time at stops.

    Another issue is the mix of operators so that tickets aren't inter-available; it's frustrating to watch a Stagecoach bus go by because my ticket's not accepted. That's made worse when you get into the evenings and find that non-commercial services are contracted to different operators; e.g. Coastal Coaches. This is symptomatic of the fragmented bus industry of course, but Manchester manages it on the Oxford Road corridor so why not here?

    Indeed that's long been the issue for me with buses round here; multiple councils controlling what is geographically a single conurbation, with buses being truncated at the boundaries in the evenings and on Sundays. None of the operators are bad in themselves, and I don't think selling BPT to Stagecoach is the answer; instead we just need the different councils to grow up and work together.
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2011
  12. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    On the buses side, still much preferable to local 'competitor' (on a few routes only) Stagecoach in Lancashire, I've had two drivers recently who couldn't even issue a Fylde daysaver!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    They're "out-of-the-way" because they aren't in Blackpool! BTS serves the Fylde Coast from Lytham and St Annes up to Poulton, Cleveleys, Fleetwood and Knott End. These places aren't classed as Blackpool, they're Fylde and Wyre. The routes are fine.

    Really, they should have kept their innovative 'metro' brand with the colours for each route (which worked extremely well unlike the crap branding First have in some cities) and called themselves Fylde Coastlines or something like that.
     
    Last edited: 12 Nov 2011
  13. robertclark125

    robertclark125 Established Member

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    The idea of Stagecoach buying Halton has cropped up before. It was suggested after Stagecoach boguht GTL in 2005, as the Halton network would make a good fit, a second line of routes into Liverpool (route 14).

    Blackpool Transport may make a good fit for Stagecoach or Rotala, but the network, and the length of it, is as a result of BT buying Fylde Blue Buses in 1994. Their depot at Squires gate (now demolished), carried on as Blue Buses until 1996, when it was absorbed into BT, and was regarded as another depot of BT, until closure in 1999.

    Of course, any sale of BT may or may not include the tramway.
     
  14. jcollins

    jcollins Veteran Member

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    If Halton Transport gets sold then what's the probably of the Halton borough being merged with another? It's a little borough all by itself in a part of the country with quite large boroughs.
     
  15. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Would be good to see some sort of long-term comparison between a private company and a publicly-owned one such as mentioned above.
     
  16. ChrisCooper

    ChrisCooper Established Member

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    The one I'm particularly familiar is with Nottingham. They seem pretty strong, with good investment, including bringing 61 reg buses onto a 4th route from Monday. They are profitable, and actually pay dividends to the council, their majority shareholder (51%, with Transdev having the other 49%). They are innovative, being the first company to introduce smartcards (well before Oyster), and having one route run with Bio-ethanol fueled buses. They have a colour coded network, split into two brands, Go2 for the high frequency (10mins or better) and Nottingham Network for the rest, and largely buses remain on the correct routes (they have plenty of unbranded spairs). Although they have moved on from having their own design of buses, which carried on until the mid 80s with the Northern Counties and East Lancs Nottingham Standard dual door Atlanteans, Fleetlines, Lions and Volvo Citybuses, their buses still are very much Nottingham. Especially with their double deckers they have always gone for long length, high capacity buses, for a long time going for the Scania Omnidecker (and the Omnitown single deck, although their most recent single deck order was Versas). Oviously they have lost out on the Trams, but I don't think it will effect them badly, infact I imagine many Tram customers will just switch to the bus as their NCT tickets will no longer be valid on the trams, so those who current change to NCT will not want to buy two tickets.
     
  17. 317 forever

    317 forever Member

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    If anything privatisations have slowed down of late. We had Bournemouth Yellow Buses sold late 2005, Blackburn early 2007, Chester summer 2007, Eastbourne late 2008, Plymouth late 2009 and Islwyn early 2010. None have been privatised recently, although it was reported that Go-Ahead were to buy a stake in Ipswich Buses.
     
  18. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    have to agree here that Blackpool has, urm, lost its way a bit! That said, would be sad to see it turn swoopy/stripy, or heven forbid Barby! The aging olies etc stil cruising around are just one of the resorts many icons and blackpool wouldnt be the same if the bus wating to pic up the latest sprinterload of stag and hen parties at the station was opperated by one of the major companies.

    cant se Lothian being dislodged from its current position although have to admit that anyone wanting to buy it would have it easy with the oldest busses in the fleat around 12 years old and a ridership who other than the car, bike and the occasional clapped out first bus have no real other option.

    Cant help but wonder though if when the loss making white elifant better known as the Edinburgh trams FINALLY start to run if there will be comercial interest in it? with only the 1 line and a lot of opposition, cuppled with the fact that the bus wil stil be faster and more convenient for the airport I doubt the route wil pay and Lothian, although great at buses have little öhow ö trams!
     
  19. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Member

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    Halton is a unitary authority and has already signed up to be part of the Liverpool City Region . With regards to transport, I cannot see why Stagecoach would be interested. Stagecoach have recently started Voluntary Partnerships in the south end of the city(82 & 86) and I cannot see Stagecoach battling with Arriva. I predict Halton Transport to be around for a while yet. If Halton was to become part of Merseyside Metropolitan area, then it would be sold.
     
  20. robertclark125

    robertclark125 Established Member

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    One point about Lothian Buses, which many don't realise, is that it's not 100% owned by Edinburgh City Council, AFAIK. When scottish local government was reorganised in 1996, Lothian Regional Council, who owned what was then LRT, was abolished, in favour of the four district councils who performed lesser roles, usch as rubbish collection.

    ECC argued that as the vast majority of the route network was within Ednburgh, it should have 100% ownership of Lothian. The Scottish office disgareed, and decided that each of the three other councils that replaced Lothian Region should have a 5% stake in Lothian Buses.
     
  21. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    i was aware of this and should have made that clear when posting as logistically it would be, urm, hard to privatise it!
     
  22. shinkansen1966

    shinkansen1966 Established Member

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    Meanwhile, South Yorkshire PTE have started co-ordinating bus tickets and services with the Sheffield's Optio orange and Optia red networks. Tickets are not interchangeable between red and orange networks.

    I tried to understand the fare structure for the Optio Orange network and struggled.
    http://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/optio-orange-frequency-guide.htm

    For some types of interchange bus travel, you need to ask for two tickets. And this is in additional to varies other types of unrelated tram, bus and train fares.

    I have no idea how this encourages people out of their cars.
     
  23. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    Not just council operations. National Express West Midlands (and NX Coventry) have an exact fare policy.

    Because of this, I buy a book of 5 scratch-off-the-date Daysavers every now and then, rather than scramble around for £3.60 in exact change in the morning, as often it's a return journey I'd have to make anyway (singles are £1.80).
     
  24. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Exact fares is an excellent system and the sooner all bus operators simplify and advertise their fares and move to cash vaults and not giving change the better.
     
  25. Ze Random One

    Ze Random One Member

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    IMHO, Exact fare systems are fine, if you have either:
    1. A change-ticket system, or
    2. A nice round number for the fares.
    The problem is, when you arrive in a town, and somehow you need to find £2.85 in exact change. When the driver can't give change for the three pound coins in your pocket, you feel robbed, even though it was only 15p. Exact fare works in a system like London's where almost everyone uses oyster anyway, and there's just one number to remember. But out in the provinces, where the fares are much higher, and unpredictable, and the car is king, every little bit of "customer service" matters.
     
  26. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    agreed. High frequency high ridership city opperations suit it but smaller opperations dont. Being sight impaired I have a consession pass but always keep a book of Lothian City Singles handy for visiters
     
  27. Paul Sidorczuk

    Paul Sidorczuk Veteran Member

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    Warrington Borough Transport (aka Network Warrington) must be one of the few municipally run companies with quite a good sized fleet of 115 buses, which carried over nine million passengers in 2010. They operate to the accredited Charter Mark Standard and 2010 saw them win a prestigious National Training Award.
     
  28. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I wonder what would happen if, say, West Lothian decided to cash in their share? Whilst Lothian Buses have significant volumes of services into East Lothian (Mussleburgh etc) and Midlothian (Dalkeith etc), they don't run much into West Lothian. If the council wanted to sell their token few percent then could the others stop them?

    Its simpler than what went before. Essentially all it does is allow the First tickets on the Orange corridor (Halfway - Fulwood) to be used on the Stagecoach services on that corridor, and vice versa, same with the Red corridor (Hillsborough - Woodhouse). So the £9 weekly ticket (or £3 day version) that used to allow you to use only First Orange services can now also be used on the parallel Stagecoach service.

    Its not solved every problem, of course, but it does allow people to use more buses at no extra cost.

    Presumably you are in favour of ticket barriers at all train stations too?
     
  29. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    and "s*d the customer", eh ?

    As a regular bus traveller I definitely prefer it if they give change...
     
  30. markydh

    markydh Member

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    Same here. It just isn't practical until smart cards are the norm and, more importantly, one smart card will be intuitive enough to be used throughout the country no matter who the operator is. It's a nightmare as a very irregular visitor to Edinburgh, for example, firstly remembering one needs change and secondly trying to find out how much. A first time visitor to an area where the bus services have an exact fare policy has absolutely no chance.
     
  31. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It's better for the customer though as it means the bus doesn't spend so long at the stop. Compare how quick buses are in Birmingham compared to Bristol for example.
     
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