Secret/Unadvertised Public Bus Services

Dai Corner

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We've had threads on 'works' bus services open to staff only and unadvertised train services recently but how about unadvertised public bus services such as these?

(Apologies for nicking CityStar's examples but I'm curious to find out if there are others)

I found details on the Churchill School website, the Burrington Parish Council website and the Wrington Parish Council website, but neither the 991/2 nor the 56 service between Clevedon and Walton Bay were ever added to any journey planning systems, so never appeared on BusTimes or TravelineSW. I don't believe they were ever registered with the Traffic Commissioner either as i've never found details in Notices & Proceedings. I know that the 992 did operate for a time because it was usually parked on the bus stop at Tout's Garage (Langford) on a Thursday when i passed to collect passengers for Clevedon and Nailsea.
 
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carlberry

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We've had threads on 'works' bus services open to staff only and unadvertised train services recently but how about unadvertised public bus services such as these?

(Apologies for nicking CityStar's examples but I'm curious to find out if there are others)
There are loads of community operated services that are not 'advertised' in a way that most people would find them. They usually operate under the 'grey area' of section 19/22 permits and sometimes require users to join a club and can refuse to accept free bus passes. Sometimes details are shown on community websites, however some just advertise in parish newsletters or village halls.

As an example Wiltshire has quite a few https://www.communityfirst.org.uk/transport/directory/. Some of these are published on Traveline (Urchfont for example) however some are not (Swindon dial a ride)
 

Citistar

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We've had threads on 'works' bus services open to staff only and unadvertised train services recently but how about unadvertised public bus services such as these?

(Apologies for nicking CityStar's examples but I'm curious to find out if there are others)

The North Somerset 56/991/992 services are an odd set of examples - introduced by the council on an "emergency" basis to partially replace a couple of routes (56 replaced Carmel 88 between Clevedon and Walton Bay; 991 replaced Carmel A5 between Langford and Wrington), whilst 992 was introduced to replace a daily service which last ran some time in the late 1980s in order to make sure that the councillor up there didn't feel left out as everyone else was getting something. I think the services were also introduced to replace work lost around Weston-super-Mare for the Weston & District Community Transport organisation, although distinction between WDCT and North Somerset Council is very tricky.

Otherwise, the only other example i can think of locally to us is a Tuesday shuttle to Chew Stoke Doctor's Surgery from the village of Stanton Drew, which is operated by our depot landlord, Pat Filer of Stanton Wick. It operates free of charge to the public and hasn't been advertised in living memory!
 

danm14

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We've had threads on 'works' bus services open to staff only and unadvertised train services recently but how about unadvertised public bus services such as these?

(Apologies for nicking CityStar's examples but I'm curious to find out if there are others)
The Republic of Ireland has countless unadvertised services.

Plenty of State funded door-to-door rural transport services are so poorly advertised that they might as well be unadvertised, which is an absolute shame for the communities they purport to serve. It's exceptionally difficult in most of Ireland to ascertain whether your rural area is served by such a service.

There are also a huge number of student buses ran by local taxi operators and coach companies - many of which are unlicensed and therefore illegal - which operate on a daily or weekly basis to third level colleges and universities, from towns and villages with no regular public transport to them. These are often advertised solely through social media and the colleges' Student Unions and not in any formal manner.
 

neilmc

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Before COVID, this could have been said of most school and college services, some of which were rather useful if you lived or worked near to their destination. GMPTE used to state quite specifically in timetables (if you could find them) that fare-paying (i.e. not contract) school services were open to the general public, but that information often hadn't percolated down to drivers.

Now that I live in Cumbria, I find a whole host of college services between towns that don't have a proper public service which are now out of reach, or have gone from a public bus to a contract whereby students have to purchase a termly or annual pass.
 

Brooke

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We lived on the route of the 812 in Islington for 5 years, and never knew it existed! Only discovered it after “bus only” barriers were put up in our street, making us wonder what the council were on about. Apparently it’s some sort of hail and ride thing that Islington council pay for, but don’t bother to tell tax payers about.
 

danm14

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We lived on the route of the 812 in Islington for 5 years, and never knew it existed! Only discovered it after “bus only” barriers were put up in our street, making us wonder what the council were on about. Apparently it’s some sort of hail and ride thing that Islington council pay for, but don’t bother to tell tax payers about.
I can beat you on that one. A door-to-door rural transport service operated in my parents' area for somewhere between ten and fifteen years before any of us became aware of it. They even contacted the local Rural Transport office every so often, who repeatedly told them that no service covered their area.

I only found out about it when I happened to notice that a minibus with the rural transport logo on it was regularly parked in the local town. It didn't make sense that the operator in question would run a service that didn't go through our area. Sure enough, when I spoke to the driver, it did.

It turned out that as a side effect of rural transport originally being organised by community groups which crossed county boundaries, when the government made it more centralised, our routes ended up the responsibility of a different county's office than the one they run in - and the different offices don't talk to each other.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of Euros down the drain on taxi fares over the years through not being aware of it.
 

Brooke

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I
I can beat you on that one. A door-to-door rural transport service operated in my parents' area for somewhere between ten and fifteen years before any of us became aware of it. They even contacted the local Rural Transport office every so often, who repeatedly told them that no service covered their area.

I only found out about it when I happened to notice that a minibus with the rural transport logo on it was regularly parked in the local town. It didn't make sense that the operator in question would run a service that didn't go through our area. Sure enough, when I spoke to the driver, it did.

It turned out that as a side effect of rural transport originally being organised by community groups which crossed county boundaries, when the government made it more centralised, our routes ended up the responsibility of a different county's office than the one they run in - and the different offices don't talk to each other.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of Euros down the drain on taxi fares over the years through not being aware of it.
Incredible isn’t it, that local government thinks it’s OK to spend money running these services, but not spend any money telling people of them!

I liked your summary about the situation in Ireland. Reminded me of my cousin who lived in Beleek and went to uni in Belfast. Regular weekly buses there & back via Enniskillen that all the students knew about - but they’re not publicised anywhere to my knowledge. I guess it’s still the same - it was common at the time all across the north.
 

markymark2000

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Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes
Oh wow, really is unadvertised. Not like Stagecoach to have an unadvertised bus. I can see the route 20 but not a 21. The East Midlands division posts the Moy Park and Baakavor buses so unsure why the 21 isn't shown.
 

ACBest

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Oh wow, really is unadvertised. Not like Stagecoach to have an unadvertised bus. I can see the route 20 but not a 21. The East Midlands division posts the Moy Park and Baakavor buses so unsure why the 21 isn't shown.
It heads to and from the Seachill factory, but I know nothing more about it than that unfortunately - as you say, unusual for Stagecoach locally to keep a route that quiet, which makes me wonder if it's actually a closed contract, although it would then be unusual to give it a route number!
 

Flange Squeal

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Wouldn't that depend on er... how well it was advertised? ;)
The Stagecoach-operated service to the Watchmoor Park Sainsbury's store in Surrey must be a contender. Stagecoach don't have anything about it on their website, and likewise with Sainsbury's themselves. The only place I can find any times is a post on a bus enthusiast's blog about a proposed withdrawal of at least one of the routes, which I guess might explain why its not publicised, if they're trying to justify withdrawing it? The average passenger is obviously unlikely to stumble upon that though and, for all anyone knows, it may even have been withdrawn in the time since that post was published. The blog author says each party referred them to the other when researching it.
 
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Before COVID, this could have been said of most school and college services, some of which were rather useful if you lived or worked near to their destination. GMPTE used to state quite specifically in timetables (if you could find them) that fare-paying (i.e. not contract) school services were open to the general public, but that information often hadn't percolated down to drivers.

All school buses in Tyne and Wear had ( pre covid) " Scholars, all passengers welcome" as their destination screen. I hadn't given a thought to these being " secret" bus services, but on reflection I don't ever recall seeing a time table for them, only running cards.

I did about 15 years on schools and works services, some of the kids were great, some not so great.

It was rare for a normal punter to get on, often people boarded without checking the screen and assumed you were going into town, I had no problem carrying them but I would always ensure they knew it was a school service, and normal rules didn't apply.

Those that did choose to travel would often get off ashen faced, vowing never again.
 

miklcct

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Before COVID, this could have been said of most school and college services, some of which were rather useful if you lived or worked near to their destination. GMPTE used to state quite specifically in timetables (if you could find them) that fare-paying (i.e. not contract) school services were open to the general public, but that information often hadn't percolated down to drivers.

Now that I live in Cumbria, I find a whole host of college services between towns that don't have a proper public service which are now out of reach, or have gone from a public bus to a contract whereby students have to purchase a termly or annual pass.
And this has now become history when "commercial" school services have become closed door since 2020 because closed-door school services are exempted from social distancing. A few of these services can still be found in app or website (to facilitate journey planners for students) but they are not shown in route maps or timetables at bus stops.
 

markymark2000

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All school buses in Tyne and Wear had ( pre covid) " Scholars, all passengers welcome" as their destination screen. I hadn't given a thought to these being " secret" bus services, but on reflection I don't ever recall seeing a time table for them, only running cards.

I did about 15 years on schools and works services, some of the kids were great, some not so great.

It was rare for a normal punter to get on, often people boarded without checking the screen and assumed you were going into town, I had no problem carrying them but I would always ensure they knew it was a school service, and normal rules didn't apply.

Those that did choose to travel would often get off ashen faced, vowing never again.
Aren't the school buses all advertised up there though? Maybe not paid advertising but they are on bustimes and sites like that?


Before COVID, this could have been said of most school and college services, some of which were rather useful if you lived or worked near to their destination. GMPTE used to state quite specifically in timetables (if you could find them) that fare-paying (i.e. not contract) school services were open to the general public, but that information often hadn't percolated down to drivers.
TFGM I believe is or was all buses except Yellow School buses are open to the public. Merseyside has or had all school buses open to all. I am unsure on the current situation.
 

duncombec

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And this has now become history when "commercial" school services have become closed door since 2020 because closed-door school services are exempted from social distancing. A few of these services can still be found in app or website (to facilitate journey planners for students) but they are not shown in route maps or timetables at bus stops.
This may be the case in your area, but is not countrywide. In Kent & Medway, all school buses that were "public" before Covid returned to being so from the start of the term, and are shown on stop timetables and in journey planners.

Indeed, it is rather difficult to tell what would count as "secret" or "unadvertised": many school services, even closed door ones, are advertised to students and information is occasionally available on operator or school websites. Supermarket services may be advertised at the supermarket - albeit barely. Community buses may be known locally or advertised in parish magazines (or have remained unchanged for so long there is an assumption everybody knows about them).
 

Deerfold

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In Keighley it's always been very hard to find out which school services are open to the general public. Twitter for the bus companies disagree, timetables on websites aren't clear. Pre-Covid I had a discussion about it with Transdev who made their website very clear. Until the next revamp when confusion reigned again. Closed services appear on the list of predicted services. It's best not to rely on them as drivers will not always stop, even when they are public.

For a few months in 2019 I was regularly going into town at around the same time as a gaggle of school buses went past my house - these were near the end of their routes so it was pretty easy not to sit anywhere near any of the schoolchildren. One didn't end in town or serve the bus station, so I did have to remember to get off at the nearest stop on that one.


There's a free shuttle bus runs between Halifax Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Whilst technically it is advertised at this location:


most people wouldn't think to look there - I only found out about it when visiting both a couple of years ago.

It's currently restricted temporarily to just NHS staff.


Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s transport department provides a free shuttle minibus service. The service runs between our two hospital sites - Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) and Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH) - during the daytime, evenings and at weekends.
The service is available for staff, patients and visitors. We're sorry, children under the age of 3 years can only travel on the shuttle bus if they have their own safety seat.
Our Mission Statement
To provide our staff, patients and visitors with a safe & reliable integrated, transport network which has the least impact on our environment.
Our Shuttle Bus service
  • The service has two stops – one at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and one at Calderdale Royal Hospital
  • The service runs from 06.30 until 22.00 Monday to Friday and from 13.00 to 20.30 on Saturday and Sunday
  • Timetables for our services are available from the Main Transport office and below.
Getting on and off the bus
  • Passengers are advised to arrive at the bus stop at least 7 minutes before the scheduled departure time. The shuttle will leave earlier than expected if it is full.
  • For safety reasons, buses will only stop at authorised locations
  • For your comfort and safety, please remain seated until the vehicle has come to a complete stop at your destination
  • When the bus has stopped, please allow passengers to get off the bus first
  • You should get on or off the bus through the side door only
  • Once buses have closed their doors and the driver has signalled to pull away, the bus will not be able to let you get on or off the bus. You must not try to get on or off the bus when the vehicle is still in motion. Please don't try and stop the bus once it has pulled away
  • Children under the age of 3 years are not permitted to travel on the shuttle bus, unless using their own safety seats. Children over 3 years are permitted to travel with an appropriate adult who must ensure that the child sits in a seat behind the driver and wears the appropriate seat belt provided.
Luggage and lost property
Our buses are small and there is limited space on board. Passengers may only carry small pieces of hand luggage that will fit on their lap or underneath the seat in front. For safety reasons, luggage cannot be stored in the aisle.
We're sorry, but due to the safety of all our passengers we are unable to carry frames, trolleys and both wheeled and non-wheeled walking aids on our service. We are also unable to accommodate pushchairs/prams. This is purely because the bus is small and were there to be an accident these items could cause injury to others.
If an item is lost on one of our vehicles, you should contact the Transport Office – contact details are below.
The responsibility for any item of property on the bus rests with the owner of the property. The driver has the right to refuse, at his sole discretion, any item of property being brought on to the bus which they consider is unsuitable for carriage, or may have a significant impact on safety.

Further information, including how to feedback on the shuttle bus service​

Shuttle bus timetable - weekdays​

HRI – From The Main EntranceCRH - From The Main Entrance
6.30 am 6.45 am
7.00 am7.15 am7.30 am7.45 am
7.30 am 8.00 am
8.00 am8.15 am8.30 am8.45 am
8.30 am 9.00 am
9.00 am9.15 am9.30 am9.45 am
9.30 am 10.00 am
10.00 am 10.30 am
10.30 am 11.00 am
11.00 am 11.30 am
11.30 am 12.00 pm
12.00 pm 12.30 pm
12.30 pm 1.00 pm
1.00 pm 1.30 pm
1.30 pm 2.00 pm
2.00 pm 2.30 pm
2.30 pm2.45 pm3.00 pm3.15 pm
3.00 pm 3.30 pm
3.30 pm3.45 pm4.00 pm4.15 pm
4.00 pm 4.30 pm
4.30 pm4.45 pm5.00 pm5.15 pm
5.00 pm 5.30 pm
5.30 pm 6.00 pm
6.10 pm6.40 pm
7.10 pm7.40 pm
8.10 pm8.30 pm
9.10 pm9.30 pm
 

PeterC

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Wouldn't that depend on er... how well it was advertised? ;)
You need to catch the free bus to the supermarket to see a small notice in an obscure position to discover that there is a free bus to the supermarket.
 

GusB

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You need to catch the free bus to the supermarket to see a small notice in an obscure position to discover that there is a free bus to the supermarket.
Not necessarily, if the bus itself carries a suitable destination display or, in the case of my local Asda (and its Fine Fare predecessor), a hand-painted board displayed behind the windscreen.
 

Deerfold

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Not necessarily, if the bus itself carries a suitable destination display or, in the case of my local Asda (and its Fine Fare predecessor), a hand-painted board displayed behind the windscreen.
Before the Halifax Sainsbury's Free Bus stopped with the demise of Walsh buses last year, it usually displayed "C68" on the destination. I believe all other "C" routes in Halifax were school routes.
 

Andyh82

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All school buses in Tyne and Wear had ( pre covid) " Scholars, all passengers welcome" as their destination screen. I hadn't given a thought to these being " secret" bus services, but on reflection I don't ever recall seeing a time table for them, only running cards.
They aren’t advertised at the bus stop, but timetables are available on the Nexus website, and also on Go North East’s website for the ones they run. Both in the normal list of services alongside the public bus services

In West Yorks and Manchester they are on the Metro/TfGM websites but under a seperate ‘schools’ section - in West Yorks listed by school, in Manchester in a PDF by district
 

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