What are the best and worst bus operators in the UK?

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by swt class 450, 21 Feb 2019.

  1. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

    17 Aug 2018
    Both city and rural services carry a mix of regular commuters and infrequent and one-off passengers, I don't see the difference.

    Exact fares might be OK for those who use a bus service regularly, and can be expected to know what the fare is and that they need the right change ready. However, even for regular commuters, exact fares means that you need to keep a pile of change at home, so that you can be sure that you will have the right change ready for the following morning's journey. But what about the infrequent traveller, say the visitor to the city, who has no idea of what the fare is and so cannot have the exact change ready? Exact fares are yesterday's, user-unfriendly solution to speeding up boarding, contactless has surely got to be the way forward.
  2. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

    7 Jun 2014
    I'd take all this with a huge pinch of salt. The OP must be a person of at least twice my age and spend every waking hour on buses to have personal opinions on so many companies in different areas. Goodness knows how he has the time to come out with huge diatribes in the general discussion forum explaining that there is nobody anti-semitic in the Labour Party, it's all a conspiracy got up by Zionists and anti-Corbynists. Ignore and he/she/other might go away.
  3. ooo

    ooo Member

    8 Jun 2015
    South west
    I've only made a few journeys on Transdev (Keighley). To me they didn't seem very special with normal buses not having anything extra like WiFi or usbs. Also I find Transdev websites aren't great.

    I do quite like Firsts standard interior with leather seats. Although it is quite plain it does make buses look bright and clean.
  4. AlastairFraser

    AlastairFraser Member

    12 Aug 2018
    Right,from a Redingensian's POV, RB are generally great except for the Caversham/North of the Thames route,where they let everyone down on frequency. I don't understand your comment about return tickets because I'm pretty sure they are available on the longer distance buses where you don't want to pay for a Network Day,but the Simply Reading tickets are all reasonably price, especially given the reduction in price after 6 and at weekends. The Day tickets ended up being the same price as most Reading returns anyway and the right change policy is ok nowadays given that most people use m-ticketing/passes/contactless anyway. It's not like they've taken away the ability to pay in cash like in London. The only criticism I have of their fares policy is that the adult single fares are a little high once you go beyond the "short hop" zones from Reading town centre. This disincentives Caversham/Emmer Green locals in particular from using the bus regularly, unless they have pensioner passes.

    I don't get why on earth you praise Arriva or anyone like that.Do you work for them? Their operation between Reading and High Wycombe (the 800/850) is terrible. The buses they used to use were completely battered for years and years on end when they had a monopoly and once Carousel started competing with their crappy service, they suddenly upgraded their 10 years+ old buses(one was so old it couldn't get up the hills to serve the villages and some villagers were stranded a few years ago) to the next best stock they had and upped the frequency to every 20 mins,when Carousel unfortunately had to withdraw and they got their sister company Thames Travel to pick up the Reading-Henley part of the route,extending their X38, Arriva went back to 30 mins frequency and their service went back to being late every time I tried to catch one to college in Henley on the rare occasion I left my bike at home.Their tickets are really expensive, the singles/returns to Henley from Caversham/Reading are actually more expensive than their whole route day tickets,forcing people to buy the day. They don't accept contactless and I've had to chase the bus down the road more than 1 time as the driver misses the stop even though I have clearly signalled for the bus to stop. Their times are inconvenient for students wishing to get to Henley college on time without leaving much earlier then they would have to on the train or driving. That's partly why I choose to cycle to college instead of using the bus. Even First makes a better effort than them.
  5. Non Multi

    Non Multi Member

    11 Dec 2017
    As a user of First's Slough services, externally they've been sorted out, however some of their older Citaros have been in a very sorry state internally. Two types of threadbare purple moquette in the same vehicle, paint worn away and damaged seat backs. Fares definitely aren't bargainous and their shrunken Slough network means that a day ticket is poorer value than it used to be. Punctuality can be hit and miss - but many routes in the Thames Valley are badly affected by rush hour congestion, roadworks etc.

    Arriva in Wycombe tend to operate cascaded buses that are old sheds, I noted West Midlands adverts still inside one last year. Fares aren't too bad though.

    I had a poor experience commuting with Go Ahead when it ran Thames Trains, but I've had no problems with Carousel in Wycombe or Thames Travel (when it operated in Bracknell) in the past, although I've not used them recently.

    Courtney are pretty good, fairly modern leased fleet, but the fares are on the high side. Fare tables on their website get a big thumbs up from me.

    Reading Transport are marvellous. Bargainous day tickets, tidy interiors, lots of double decker routes for the fans of 'proper buses', well maintained stop information. Reading Buses still could do with a big TfL style spider map for their Reading town centre stops, their current map isn't brilliant. I observed 3 of their 'Thames Valley' route 5 buses calling at the Slough ASDA recently - full of passengers (not just ENCTS pass holders), this was a route dumped by First Group last year as a lost cause!
  6. Glasgowbusguy

    Glasgowbusguy New Member

    21 Feb 2019
    Glasgow city bus
    Stagecoach Glasgow

    First Glasgow (improving now finally)
    Mcgills (over priced )
    Avondale (just crap)
    Cholcri (getting better)
  7. LancasterRed

    LancasterRed Member

    21 May 2018
    From my personal experience:

    Stagecoach in Cumbria/North Lancashire (except at peak times in Lancaster)
    Coastal Coaches of Warton (them taking some of Preston Bus' services will be so beneficial to the rural towns)
    Trent Barton (excellent, and a really intuitive bus numbering system)

    First in Dorset (I mean, it's First, what did you expect?)
    Preston Bus (instead of fixing their services they've ended up with more. Not to mention the whole 14/15 fiasco. I could go on for ages here)
    Literally anything in Birmingham (again, this is personal experience, but I always have a bad time on buses in Birmingham)
  8. Jordan Adam

    Jordan Adam Established Member

    12 Sep 2017
    On a Scale of Great / Good / Acceptable / Poor / Awful

    First Aberdeen
    Maintenance: Good
    Level Of Service: Acceptable
    Reliability: Good
    Exterior presentation: Acceptable/Poor (Repaint program is away to start)
    Interior Presentation: Good
    Marketing: Poor / Awful

    Stagecoach North Scotland
    Maintenance: Poor (Does vary between depots, some i would go as far to rate as awful)
    Level Of Service: Acceptable
    Reliability: Poor
    Exterior presentation: Good/Acceptable
    Interior Presentation: Acceptable
    Marketing: Great

    In terms of Independents... Central & Bains are cowboys. Deveron & Nicoll are Good.
  9. Andyh82

    Andyh82 Established Member

    19 May 2014
    This is a ridiculous comment. Go Ahead’s companies are relatively autonomous so to write off the entire group is unrealistic.

    GNE operates nothing like Oxford does. Southern Vectis is different again and EYMS is still exactly the same as it was when it was independent.

    Another thing we often get around here is people writing off Arriva and First based on the experience in their area. These also vary massively. Arriva in the home counties and Arriva in Yorkshire are unrecognisable from each other, in terms of newness of fleet, livery, interiors, branding, frequencies, fares and the perceived value, the list goes on.
  10. swt class 450

    swt class 450 Guest

    9 Apr 2016
    I agree with Alexbus12 and Jordan Adam about Transdev and Alex Hornby their MD. I can't stand that man. He is so conceited and thinks his company is so good that he can't accept any criticism. Even others such as Barry Doe (a well known bus and train expert) have found that Alex Hornby refuses to listen to their views and criticisms - http://www.barrydoe.co.uk - click on "site index" then click on "special announcements" to view.

    I have found Transdev to be a dodgy and dishonest company at times. About two years ago they posted fake feedback on one of their Twitter accounts. I remember looking at one of their tweets which had a screenshot of an email of a "passenger" giving very positive feedback about their journeys. However i noticed that the text looked very odd like it had just been typed up in a text box and then copied and pasted over a screenshot of the email. I then looked at it more and noticed it had a date that was in the future which pretty much confirmed that the screenshot of the email was fake. So i tweeted them and asked why they were posting fake screenshots of fake feedback and they just blocked me and immediately deleted their tweet. I then emailed them about this but never received a reply. So Transdev are so conceited and concerned about good publicity that they will actually go to the effort of creating fake feedback and posting it online.

    If you dare to criticise Transdev on Twitter then Alex Hornby gets all his puppets and trolls to start attacking you. He seems to have a whole army of Transdev fans on Twitter to back him up with whatever he says.

    So i have really not been impressed with the Transdev management. I don't think Alex Hornby is someone who should be in this job when he can't even accept any criticism of his company.
  11. Jordan Adam

    Jordan Adam Established Member

    12 Sep 2017
    Afraid to say all this is far too true

    Transdev have a known habit of posting "fake feedback" and blocking anyone who doesn't praise them.

    That's why i was cautious about originally replying your comment, i'm surprised none of the Transdev "fans" have came here complaining about my comments yet. My Hornby does seem to get rattled rather easily and has a delusional mindset that everything is "#amazing". This is the same company who deliberately dispatch old outdated timetables, sends buses out without MOTs, has a duty managed who doesn't know the area, doesn't issue new uniforms. Buys buses without the warranty to save money then goes running to other big operators when the engines start playing up and so on...!

    Lothian can also be bad for "over publicity" however at least they actually have the goods of a superbly run reliable city network to back it up, albeit from what i hear inside it's not all smiles... Some of their ventures can be questionable at times though.
  12. Class 172 Fan

    Class 172 Fan Member

    18 May 2014
    So you’d probably automatically hate NX West Midlands based on those grounds. Exact fare boxes are a great way to get rid of those piles of pennies, two pences and 5 pence coins that you accumulate from shopping and stuff.

    Some, like for example my mom, doesn’t understand 24 hour clock (she’s in her mid 50s) so those versions of timetables would be easy to use for the likes of her.

    It’s great advertising for the services to make them more profitable!

    *turns into hysterics*


    Have you ever been on a Diamond WM Bus?

    I used to rely on them as part of my commute! They either turned up early, late or not at all!!!!

    They brought out two of the decent independent operators in the Midlands and have run their fleet down to the point where breakdowns on some routes are a daily occurrence, you risk the bus having all 4 tires on it by the end of your journey or if it can even do your journey!

    They make On The Buses seem like a documentary at times!

    Because of them, my local cab firm provide my commute each day!

    Agreed. For me the jury is out on KB.

    Seconded. When a Kidderminster bus does turn up, will it wheely turn up or will a wheel be missing.


    There were a couple of decent independents round this end (Hanson's and Central Buses) until Rotala purchased them...

    NX West Midlands ain’t too bad on some routes, such as the Platinum routes.
  13. Typhoon

    Typhoon Member

    2 Nov 2017
    I am genuinely* interested in which two you are referring to. I would list three, one I knew well, the other two not so well and it could be I'm deluded about how good they were. Its going back some years now.
    The three:-
    North Birmingham Busways - well maintained, clean (if generally rather old) buses; really polite drivers, all in uniform; innovative routes in the Sutton area, using the Aston Expressway; gave change; reliable. What was not to like.
    Ludlow's - innovative routes from Merry Hill into the Birmingham suburbs and Worcs. Uniform (and largely modern) fleet, appeared reliable (when I travelled on them, at least).
    Zak's - I know less about them but the livery was consistent, externally clean and undamaged, and they took on a number of inter-suburban routes to serve unbussed estates. Occupied a niche market, I had thought, successfully.

    Mention is made later of Hanson's (whose buses appeared scruffy to me) and Central (decent appearance) but I never travelled on either (I don't think) so can't be objective.

    * - sounds cheesy doesn't it. Sorry, isn't meant to.
  14. scotrail158713

    scotrail158713 Member

    30 Jan 2019
    They only operate in East Lothian but I really like Prentice Coaches from Haddington. They truly appreciate their passengers and couldn’t have apologised enough when they had to increase all their fares by 10p last year. When East Coast Buses started their 106 service a couple of years ago it was an almost identical route to the Prentice 108 as well - just with cheaper fares - so Prentice then went and lowered their fares to match East Coast Buses in a bid to not lose passengers. (To this day the 108 is one of Prentice’s busiest routes)
  15. itsonlyme

    itsonlyme Member

    24 Jul 2012
    Arriva North West - Especially the Winsford Depot and services out of Crewe. Useless. Conseutive journeys cancelled. Lack of supervision. No one to complain to. (Ring the number - response you are now no 17 in the queue, and 10 minutes later you are no.15, phoning them is more expensive than their fares) I will say no more except to repeat useless.
  16. class387

    class387 Established Member

    9 Oct 2015
    Reading, Ensignbus and Uno are my favourites (in that order).
  17. LOL The Irony

    LOL The Irony Established Member

    29 Jul 2017
    Tracy Island
    D&G have to be up there. The issues I have with them aren't helped by Cheshire east council being useless.
  18. Aictos

    Aictos On Moderation

    28 Apr 2009
    I've used Arriva Beds and Bucks, Arriva Herts, Stagecoach East, National Express West Midlands, First Norfolk, First Edinburgh, Lothian Buses, Centrebus and of them all, the best I have to say is Centrebus as fares are quite reasonable, drivers offer good customer service and of course they offer wifi!

    Stagecoach East I've had a few issues with them the main ones being they are unreliable ie a frequency of every 10 minutes is advertised yet it's hit and miss if they turn up on time as opposed to NXWM who actually turn up when they say they will.

    Stagecoach East got rid of Returns a few years ago and while ticket prices increase every few months, very little investment is seen on routes which actually needs upgrading from single deckers to double deckers however they do one thing which no other operator does and that's offer a 50% discount on singles and returns for those who hold a JCP travelcard.

    NXWM's exact fare policy has never been a issue for me as it's quicker and safer for the driver as they don't handle the money.

    Arriva has been a mix bag as usually they're pretty good but for example this week, I asked a driver what was the frequency on a route so I knew more or less what times the buses were heading back - the answer dunno, think every 15 minutes didn't inspire confidence. Surely as it's a clockface timetable, drivers ought to know the frequency?

    First, haven't used them in a while but never really had a issue with them.
  19. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

    29 Sep 2014
    How many people actually spend their time travelling around to judge so many companies? For GoAhead I rate Oxford highly because I regularly use the Park and Ride which is excellent, comfortable buses, wifi, charging, even some tables. Carousel on the other hand seems pretty run of the mill with the "second best" buses that aren't quite good enough for Oxford. I haven't used Arriva for a while but travelling to and from Aylesbury the vehicles generally used on the 280 were markedly better in passenger experience than those on the 500. If I only used one of those routes my view of the company would be skewed.

    Like most organisations that operate across multiple sites it is as much down to local management as corporate.
  20. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

    4 Sep 2006
    Milton Keynes
    I think I may revise my opinion of Kinchbus, the #2 service has a much better timetable than it had when I lived in Barrow about 20 years ago
  21. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

    22 Sep 2013

    Can't see anything about Kinchbus to dislike. Their Derby Skylink 24/7 service is excellent.

  22. MedwayValiant

    MedwayValiant Member

    8 Jan 2013
    It must be at least fifteen years since I've been on a Trent Barton service, but I do hear the point being made here. Buuuut ... is that all ruined when a branded vehicle runs on the "wrong" route, or when a "plain" vehicle is sent out on a branded route? Or does Trent Barton somehow ensure that this never - or hardly ever - happens?

    Because precisely this is one of the issues I have with Arriva Kent and Surrey. Branded vehicles frequently appear on the wrong route, plain vehicles frequently appear on branded routes, and if the company is ever challenged about this on Facebook it says that it would be "impossible" to keep vehicles only on the correct routes. Only two days ago I travelled within Chatham on a bus branded for MAX 34/35, a Woking-based route, and last summer there were vehicles trundling around the Medway Towns with interior signage in Welsh. There are also still vehicles advertising the Medway Mainline brand and website, which no longer exists, and vehicles whose electronic screens advertise "every 8 minutes" when it hasn't been that for two years. (Surely the text on the screen is written by a person at a desk, and to change it would be far less work than to repaint a vehicle.)

    The other major issues with Arriva Kent and Surrey are fares - a three mile return journey can cost more than the £5.50 that the same company charges for a day ticket covering the whole North West and Wales region - and reliability. I can only base this on long waits I've had myself, but it seems that about one quarter of scheduled journeys don't run. The exception to all of these criticisms is the 101 (Gillingham - Chatham - Maidstone), which almost uses the right vehicles and generally runs on time - although the on-board stop announcements are often not working.
  23. 43055

    43055 Member

    8 Mar 2018
    QUOTE="MedwayValiant, post: 3889958, member: 18743"]It must be at least fifteen years since I've been on a Trent Barton service, but I do hear the point being made here. Buuuut ... is that all ruined when a branded vehicle runs on the "wrong" route, or when a "plain" vehicle is sent out on a branded route? Or does Trent Barton somehow ensure that this never - or hardly ever - happens?

    Because precisely this is one of the issues I have with Arriva Kent and Surrey. Branded vehicles frequently appear on the wrong route, plain vehicles frequently appear on branded routes, and if the company is ever challenged about this on Facebook it says that it would be "impossible" to keep vehicles only on the correct routes. Only two days ago I travelled within Chatham on a bus branded for MAX 34/35, a Woking-based route, and last summer there were vehicles trundling around the Medway Towns with interior signage in Welsh. There are also still vehicles advertising the Medway Mainline brand and website, which no longer exists, and vehicles whose electronic screens advertise "every 8 minutes" when it hasn't been that for two years. (Surely the text on the screen is written by a person at a desk, and to change it would be far less work than to repaint a vehicle.)
    On the 10 years I have lived on a Trent Barton route there has only been two occasions where a branded bus has been put on the wrong route. When one of the branded buses is off the road a spare bus is put on and is normally the same size as the branded bus as well.

    At least it's not just Arriva in Derby which has issues with branding. This is the list I got yesterday:
    Sapphire on non sapphire route
    non sapphire bus on sapphire route
    Sapphire on F1
    F1 on X38
  24. Samuel88

    Samuel88 Member

    20 Jan 2017
    Also worth noting that among the companies you've listed as the 'worst' in the UK, are also the only companies outside of London who can be bothered to run a decent night bus service!
  25. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    26 Nov 2009
    May I ask when you travelled with them? And which routes?
    I find Transdev Keighley a mixed bag, but they have some quality buses.
    Buses on routes B1-B3, K1 - K19, 60, 66, 72 and 662 (26 routes in all, including all that are every 20 minutes or more often) have WiFi and USB ports.

    Routes 62, 67, 68, 69, Otley local services (12 routes in all) and some peak journeys on the 60 do not have USB. Some do still have Wifi. There's been suggestions the 62 will be upgraded this year to new buses.
  26. AlastairFraser

    AlastairFraser Member

    12 Aug 2018
    From a Caversham ThamesTravel/Reading Buses/Arriva user point of view, Thames Travel used to be awful but have improved a lot recently. They are usually on time and their fares aren't super high,with reasonably modern buses. Carousel were even better though when they ran the Reading-High Wycombe X80 route. I would agree about Courtney's fares, it cost me around £2.50 to £3.00 to go 1 mile from Easthampstead to Bracknell station. That's even more than RB outside the short hop zones. Arriva in Wycombe always send out clapped out buses that are always late and the drivers are often bad drivers/rude/nonchalant.
  27. Aictos

    Aictos On Moderation

    28 Apr 2009
    I think that applies to all Arriva operations though as in the Luton area, you have buses branded F70 which can be found on any route using the busway.
  28. SCH117X

    SCH117X Member

    27 Nov 2015
    The individual company names that make up Transdev Blazefield have always been that since AJS Holdings ownership of them when you had Harrogate & District, Keighley & District and York City and District; the latter got sold to First bar the Malton depot which become Yorkshire Coastliner albeit without virtually any services actually coastlining. A management buyoff saw Blazefield Holdings set up with Giles Fearnley (now at First) in charge and Burnley & Pendle and Lancashire United formed with the acquisition of former Stagecoach operations before the mid 2000s sale to Transdev who had no experience of operating commercially operated services as all their operations elsewhere were tendered so the Blazefield management have largely a free hand; since then the Veolia operation in York and Rosso have been acquired. Blazefield have always tried route branding, some has been a success - the 36 for example has become a brand rather than simply a route number but the "Nidderdale Branch" branding for the 24 between Harrogate and Pateley Bridge only latest a short time.
  29. rg177

    rg177 Established Member

    22 Dec 2013
    I must nominate the worst as First South Yorkshire.

    Hopeless reliability on routes that aren't "core", so things like the 18, 35 and 38. Often they just won't turn up at all.

    Staff range from passive to downright aggressive. Have reported drivers for snatching contactless cards from passengers, swearing at them, and even had one driver shut the doors on my head when he could see me coming from a mile off.

    Apart from the 1a, 51, 52a, 56 and 120 (which seem to get the better buses), buses are often completely past it. The 02 reg Eclipses are falling apart. Filthy and seats like concrete.

    Bizarrely, I find First just across in Manchester to be significantly better. Drivers a lot friendlier from experience and buses in much better nick.

    A Stagecoach Sheffield driver actually agreed with my sentiments when I got chatting to him on a 120 a few months back. Says that First is a mere shadow of what was Mainline back in the day. Apparently the whole operation stinks of one that's almost given up.

    I accept some areas of Sheffield can include challenging clientele and traffic conditions but using the bus in the Steel City is often a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Stagecoach aren't much better but vehicles are in better nick and staff aren't outwardly unpleasant.
  30. WM Bus

    WM Bus Member

    28 Jul 2018
    Whats so bad about them?
    The fleet has clearly had lots of investment e.g newer buses on the 11A/11C (Outer Circle), 4/4A/6 and Platinum Routes.
    Some routes have had big frequency increases, e.g University routes from irregular midi buses to frequent platinum double decks, Bromford also from single decks to more double decks (increased number of buses per hour) and more express buses on the Coventry Rd (X1/X2). There are some key routes still using older 16 year old vehicles, such as 55/94 and 97, but i'm sure they'll see investment one day.

    Only main negatives are some routes suffer from regular overcrowding (e.g 11) and some main road routes frequently carry passengers smoking while on the bus. Overall I wouldn't say they are paticularly bad from my experience of using them everyday.
    Last edited: 22 Feb 2019

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