Routes With Comprehensive Competition

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by tbtc, 12 Oct 2019 at 19:28.

  1. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    16 Dec 2008
    The scrapping of the Oxford Bus Company X90 (Oxford - London) brings the end to one of the longest running bits of competition in the UK... but it's also one of the routes with pretty comprehensive competition (seven days a week, from five in the morning until after midnight).

    Whilst defining "competition" can be arbitrary (are services that share just a couple of stops "competing" with each other, does it have to be following the exact route over at least a mile, where do you draw the line), how many routes/corridors are there where the two operators are properly competing and that competition is more than just 08:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday?

    West Lothian is a relatively recent example, with Lothian County operating seven days a week, from early to late (with a Night Bus), but a lot of "competition" in other areas has become "partnership", e.g. Sheffield and Liverpool both have Stagecoach running co-ordinated services with the incumbent operator (First and Arriva, respectively), so not really competing any more.

    Without getting into too much of an argument, how many "seven days a week, with some evening services" competition remains in the UK?
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  3. goldisgood

    goldisgood Member

    5 Mar 2018
    Quite a few here across the country, particularly in Southampton. There are a few more in Leicester, just unsure exactly which ones. There will be a lot more that others will post, but here's a few to start this off.
    Oxford's two are fairly interesting - the 4/4B and S9 don't have a partnership setup and at peak times buses have been gradually adjusted so that one is before the other, then the other before the other one, etc. Arriva aren't part of the Smartzone partnership (any ideas why?) so the 280 runs in competition with the U1 to Wheatley, but I'd assume the 280 is the main service here as the U1 is very overcrowded at the best of times.
    Nuneaton to Leicester on Stagecoach Gold route 48 and Arriva Sapphire route 158
    Bedworth to Coventry on Stagecoach Gold route 48 and National Express Coventry route 20
    Walkden to Manchester on Stagecoach route 38 and Diamond Buses routes 36/37
    Wichelstowe to Swindon (by different routes) on Stagecoach route 9 and Swindon's Bus Company route 11
    Bath to Melksham (by different routes) on First route D3 and Faresaver route X72
    Bath to Frome on First routes D2/D2A and Faresaver route X67
    Millbrook to Southampton on First route 2 and Bluestar route 18
    Lordshill to Woolston (slightly different routes) on First route 3 and Bluestar route 18
    Southampton to Weston on First route 11 and Bluestar route 17
    Southampton to Thornhill on First route 3 and Bluestar route 19
    Southampton to Totton and Calmore on First route 1 and Bluestar routes 11/12
    Wheatley to Oxford on Oxford Bus Company route U1 and Arriva route 280
    Cumnor to Oxford on Oxford Bus Company routes 4/4B and Stagecoach Gold route S9
    Guildford to Royal Surrey Hospital/Park Barn/Stoughton on Arriva routes A/B/C, Safeguard routes 4/5 and Stagecoach routes 1/2
    Leicester to New Parks on First or Arriva route 14
  4. Hophead

    Hophead Member

    5 Apr 2013
    As you say, defining competition can be arbitrary. It is my opinion that operators running along the same road are not necessarily competing unless one or more is making a song and dance about some aspect of their offer - cheaper fares, better frequency, for example. After all, most places only have a limited number of entry points, and you've got to get into town somehow.

    Not so long ago, there was a brief discussion about the Broadbridge Heath to Horsham routes, covered by Sussex Coaches, Compass Bus, Metrobus and Arriva, but I would argue that they are all just entering the town along the Guildford Road out of necessity. None of them are shouting about fares or the frequency.

    The situation in Park Barn and the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford is another matter entirely. This, to me, is clearly "competition", as the companies are seeking either to protect their own interests, or force another off the route completely.
  5. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

    19 Nov 2011
    @tbtc how about the 120 Stagecoach/First in your neck of the woods? (Sheffield if you’re on a mobile)
  6. Flange Squeal

    Flange Squeal Member

    17 Jul 2012
    Around a decade ago, Arriva and the long-established independent Safeguard Coaches jointly operated local routes 3 (to Bellfields) and 4/5 (Park Barn circulars) in Guildford, Surrey. I think it was around 2011 that an agreement was made however for Arriva to take over sole operation of the 3, and Safeguard likewise on the 4/5. All was well until November last year when Arriva cancelled their 26/27 town circulars after Stagecoach won exclusive rights to run bus services through the University of Surrey grounds, previously operated by Arriva.

    Arriva began running a new route A between Guildford > Rail Station > The Chase > Royal Surrey County Hospital, running along the exact same roads as Safeguard's routes 4/5. They also began a route B running Guildford > Woodbridge > Park Barn Estate, again running along the exact same roads as Safeguard's routes 4/5. A map below shows the established Safeguard routes 4 (clockwise) and 5 (anticlockwise), with Arriva's A and B crudely overlaid. You can see the only bit where they don't compete is one bus stop along Egerton Road linking Park Barn and the hospital, but the main Guildford to Park Barn and Guilford to RSC Hospital flows are competed exactly.

    Frequencies are as follows:

    Safeguard routes 4/5
    • Mon-Fri daytime: Every 10-15 mins
    • Saturday daytime: Every 15 mins
    • Sunday daytime: Every 20 mins
    • Evenings: Every 30 mins
    Arriva routes A/B
    • Mon-Fri daytime: Every 10 mins
    • Saturday daytime: Every 15 mins
    • Sunday daytime: Every 20 mins
    • Evenings: Every 30 mins
    Hours of operation are as follows:
    • Weekdays: 0545-2300 (4/5), 0600-2100 (A), 0530-2300 (B)
    • Saturdays: 0645-2300 (4/5), 0630-2030 (A), 0630-2330 (B)
    • Sundays: 0800-2230 (4/5), 0930-1800 (A), 0730-2230 (B)

    Safeguard decided to retalliate by acquiring another bus and starting operations over the Guildford to Bellfields route 3 as route 3s, which had been getting some bad press locally following Arriva putting on some Mercedes-Benz Sprinters that some passengers found impractical and were too small for many journeys. Safeguard do not run Sundays though (Arriva's Sunday service is county council-supported), so I guess this might not count in terms of this thread as Safeguard's competition is therefore only 6 days per week. I think it's worth mentioning though as they compete over the same periods of the day at the same 20 min frequency, and the Safeguard incursion came about as a direct result of Arriva's incursion described above.


    On the topic of this, Arriva are diverting away from Broadbridge Heath next month to serve the Tesco superstore instead.
  7. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

    7 Jun 2014
    The Guildford situation described above seems to derive from outside interference (if I may put it that way) from the University, which reminds me of certain airport operators e.g. Luton muscling in, apparently unnecessarily. I can't see that level of competition lasting for too long in Guildford: usually it's the independent that capitulates first, but Safeguard are sufficiently well established and regarded in the area that this may not happen in this case. My betting is that Arriva will blink first, but I'll probably be proved wrong within the week!
  8. Flange Squeal

    Flange Squeal Member

    17 Jul 2012
    Agreed. I guess from a business point of view, they had to try and make money elsewhere once they lost the Uni market. Guildford depot's presence on rail replacement has seemingly also increased from nought to very active in the last year or so. A fairly local independant that had fairly recent success in beating a big name were of course Courtney Buses who began commercial competition on the 171/2 Bracknell southern circulars and the 194 Bracknell to Camberley routes against First for a number of years, before the incumbant big op gave in after Courtney won the local tendered routes and First shut their depot down having been left just a few commercial services. Stagecoach then gave it a go on the fiercely contested Bracknell to Camberley corridor, but their 20 minute frequency and route-branded vehicles against the less frequent Courtney still wasn't deemed viable and the second big name gave up within months of the first (excuse the pun). That was a slightly different, and weird, scenario too though, as it was the smaller independant muscling in on the big group's established network. Courtney had also run a competing Windsor to Legoland route 600 against First's route 200, the 600 still running and the 200 now history.
  9. bussnapperwm

    bussnapperwm Member

    3 Jul 2019
    BIrrmingham and the Black Country:
    50 Birmingham - Maypole (DIamond Bus and NX)
    34/334 Bilston - Walsall (NX and Thandi)
    4/4H Walsall - West Brom/Halesowen (Diamond Bus and NX)
    20/48 Coventry - Bedworth (NX and Stagecoach)
    40 West Brom - Wednesbury (DIamond Bus and NX)
    1/X51 Walsall - Cannock (Arriva and NX)
    16/16W Birmingham - Hamstead (Diamond Bus and NX).

    One famous one in the black country was the 226 where at one stage there was a one minute gap between Hansons (Lye) and DIamond Bus, and fare wars with returns getting as low as £2. It ended up with Rotala buying Hansons out.
    Another interesting one was when D&G Bus PD0001665 decided to register commercial journeys on services X96/297B...5 mins in front of tendered journeys ran by their sister operation MIdland (Choice Travel) PD0001665.
  10. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

    11 May 2015
    In Chester, Stagecoach have now altered their Gold 1 to extend to Chester Business Park and therefore competing with Arriva Sapphire route 1 from Wrexham to Chester via the Business Park (Though it's only a few stops shared, the business park is busy and has a lot of commuters and it has lost Arriva a fair bit of work).

    While there is partnership working in Liverpool, Stagecoach and Arriva still do all they can to compete. For example Arriva dropping their Merseyside weekly ticket price and Stagecoach trying to steal a few passengers off the 82s with their X5 service. It's small competition but it adds up.
  11. NewcastleOne

    NewcastleOne Member

    18 Dec 2017
    Arriva and Go North East 308/309 are timetabled to compete generally arriving within 2/3 mins of each then 15 mins until next one of each to arrive.
  12. Bus Lightyear

    Bus Lightyear Member

    16 Nov 2018
    Here's a few competitive areas in Scotland that I know of.


    City Centre to Paisley Road West corridor - First 9-9A, 10, McGill's 38
    City Centre to QEU Hospital via Ibrox and Govan - Stagecoach X19, McGill's 23
    City Centre to QEU Hospital via Partick - First 77, McGill's 17

    South and North Lanarkshire

    Hamilton to Motherwell - First 201, 266, JMB 41
    Motherwell to Wishaw via Craigneuk - First 240, 242, JMB 41
    Motherwell to Wishaw via Shields Road - First 241, 266, X11, JMB 56
    Motherwell-Wishaw-Newmains-Shotts - First 266, JMB 56


    City Centre to Corstorphine - Lothian 26, 100, Citylink 900, 909, First numerous services to Livingston, Falkirk etc
    City Centre to Gorgie and Sighthill - Lothian 3, 25, 33, First numerous services to Livingston etc
    City Centre to Liberton and Penicuik - Lothian 37, 47, Borders Bus X62
    City Centre to Queensferry Road corridor - Lothian 41, 43, Stagecoach numerous services to Dunfermline, Perth, St Andrews etc


    City Centre to Broughty Ferry - NX 5, 9, 10, Stagecoach 73, 75
    City Centre to Ninewells Hospital - NX 5, 9, 10, 17, 22, 29, Stagecoach 39, 73, X7
  13. WY Bus Spotter

    WY Bus Spotter Member

    9 Aug 2017
    First Leeds' 35 shares the exact same route as Transdev Keighley's 60. The 35 terminating at Greengates (though used to run through to Bradford), and the 60 running through to Keighley.

    Used to be a fairly steady 15 minute combined frequency between the two companies until Bramley depot took it over and chose to run their journeys a few minutes after their competition. Management incompetence is the only answer I can think of!

    Though Trandev run the 60 later, there has always been competition for commuters in Calverley and Rodley. Transdev run modern route branded optare versas, with First typically opting for older, smellier B7/B9TLs, though buying a First day rider generally allows people more access to other parts of Leeds and West Yorkshire.
  14. Andyh82

    Andyh82 Established Member

    19 May 2014
    I’m not sure the last two posts are really competition, many places will have roads where a city bus and an out of town bus, by a different operator, just happen to travel along the same road.
  15. LancasterRed

    LancasterRed Member

    21 May 2018
    The west of Preston has three competing operators: Preston Bus, Stagecoach and Coastal Coaches all serving key destinations. Because of the way ticketing works, the majority take Preston Bus, leading to their services often leaving passengers behind. All three are in healthy competition but can see Preston Bus getting questioned on their overcrowding issues sooner rather than later.

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