Stagecoach expands UK budget coach network
megabus.com to add new services across the UK
7 new locations to be served in expansion of inter-city network
Scottish Borders and South Devon included in new timetable
Budget coach provider now offering links to Birmingham Airport
The UK’s market-leading budget coach operator megabus.com, today (10
May 2010) confirmed that it is expanding its services to offer even more
low-cost journeys between even more locations.
megabus.com – part of Perth-based transport giant Stagecoach Group –
launches its new timetable on 24 May, introducing new services to seven new
UK destinations including Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels in the Scottish
Borders as well as Paignton and Torquay in South Devon.
The new timetable will also serve Carlisle for the first time and offer a
variety of brand new services to and from Birmingham Airport. The expansion
means that megabus.com now serves almost 60 locations across the UK.
Among the new return services are:
Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels to Manchester and London
Paignton and Torquay to Bristol
Paignton and Torquay to Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle
Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle
Torquay to London
Paignton and Torquay to Birmingham Airport
Winchester, Southampton and Portsmouth to Birmingham Airport
Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle to Birmingham Airport
Due to increased demand, additional journeys will also be offered on the
following existing services:
Manchester to London
Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.
The current service from Portsmouth and Southampton to Birmingham,
Manchester and Leeds is also being improved to offer a faster journey time
of under 7 hours – a reduction of around 45 minutes.
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Brian Souter said: “We know our
passengers are looking for an affordable, reliable, greener travel option
and the expansion of our megabus.com services will allow even more people,
in even more places to access our fast, comfortable, inter-city coach
services for as little as £1.”
megabus.com was launched in the UK in 2003 and revolutionised coach
travel by offering fares from just £1 via a simple online booking system.
More than 2million passengers now use megabus.com services in the UK every
year. In the US, more than 5million passengers have travelled with
megabus.com since its launch in 2006 and it now covers 32 locations in the
United States and Canada.
Bookings can be made now for the new megabus.com
timetable which starts on 24 May. For more information visit
Stagecoach wins UK Coach Award
Awards success for Stagecoach East
Second honour for successful express coach service
Stagecoach Oxfordshire also recognised at awards ceremony
Stagecoach UK Bus company Stagecoach East is celebrating after
winning a prestigious award at the 2010 UK Coach Awards.
The company won the Coach Marketing award for its successful X5 service
between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. The judges described the
marketing of the service as "a clever and well-executed marketing campaign
that made excellent use of both conventional and new media, and certainly
delivered passenger growth on the route".
The win is the second award for the X5 service in the past six months after
it was named 'Express Operator of the Year' at the 2009 UK Bus Awards in
Stagecoach East Managing Director Steven Burd said: "It is an honour, and a
real credit to our marketing team, to be recognised with this award. We are
committed to providing high quality, good value, reliable bus and coach
services and I am delighted that our marketing efforts in attracting more
people on to greener, smarter travel have been rewarded."
At the awards ceremony, which was held in Manchester's Midland Hotel,
Stagecoach in Oxford was named as runner-up in the Accessibility
category for it's Oxford Tube service which provides express coach
services between Oxford and London, offering journeys up to every 10
minutes. The Oxford Tube marketing team were also Highly Commended in the
Coach Marketing Award.
enters UK market
French government-owned RATP is entering the UK market, with the takeover of
much of Transdev’s London operations and its Bournemouth ‘Yellow Buses’.
Although best-known as Paris’ main operator, RATP’s ambition is to be the
world’s fifth largest urban transport operator.
The deal is part of the Transdev and Veolia Transport merger, to create
Transdev/Veolia. RATP held a 25.66% stake in Transdev and is exiting
Transdev, taking with it with assets “of an equal value” from Transdev and
The Bournemouth business, a former municipal, was bought by Transdev from
the council in a competitive tender in 2005.
The London operation that transfers to RATP is all of London United and the
part of London Sovereign, that is the former Transport for London (TfL)
contracted business of NSL Services group (itself the former NCP business)
which Transdev subsidiary London Sovereign bought for an undisclosed sum in
ref the Ealing Broadway to Wandsworth Road 'parliamentary' bus, this looks
set to continue for some time to come, instead of ending in May.
Southern have issued a formal press statement. I believe formal objections
had been raised re the couplings on Class 171 units - if a unit fails
there's nothing nearby on a regular basis that can couple to them on the
"We will be unable to introduce the new service between Wandsworth Road and
Ealing Broadway this May after Network Rail refused to grant access rights.
We had planned to run a new daily (Mon to Fri) return service between the
two stations, calling at Kensington Olympia and Shepherd’s Bush, from the
new timetable introduction on May 23 as required by our franchise agreement
with the Department for Transport. However, Network Rail has refused to
grant track access
rights for the service and so it will not be able to operate.
Alex Foulds, Southern’s Development Director, said: “We have done everything
we can to introduce this service, but without the access rights there is
nothing we can do. We have a further meeting planned with Network Rail to
see if the issues
can be overcome, but I am afraid there is now no chance of a May
The current bus service will continue to operate, while Southern will
continue to run the current timetable from Wandsworth Road to Kensington
Olympia as follows:
* 10 12 Kensington Olympia to Wandsworth Road
* 16 12 Wandsworth Road to Kensington Olympia
The existing bus and rail services would have been removed if the Wandsworth
Road to Ealing Broadway service had been introduced."
North Kent day trip out by
I took a recent day out to see the Arriva operations around North Kent which
now form Arriva Southern Counties but were once London Country & Maidstone &
District territory. To cut down the day I took a train down the night before
and stayed in a bargain Travelodge room overnight at Stone Crossing. This
was rather handy as the hotel was a 1 min walk from the station and nearby
I've wanted to try out Fastrack for a while, so an early start was made and
I caught a bus towards Gravesend. The Fastrack infrastructure is all very
impressive with roadside ticket machines and decent bus stops with welcoming
shelters. However to get the Arriva Southern explorer, I had to pay on the
bus which boggled the driver a bit at first. A short ride to Greenhithe
Station where we changed between routes A & B. The next leg was onto
Gravesend by Fastrack. Lots of bus priority is given to the buses but some
of it seemed a little overly complex in places. At Gravesend, buses are
mostly stopping around the side of the shopping centre and station. Plenty
of Arriva variety to be seen in the short time whilst we waited for our next
bus. The Fastrack ticket machine here was more like a rail station machine
with card or cash payment options, however nobody seemed to be using it as
buses sold tickets on board.
From Gravesend we took a trip to Chatham on the 136, worked by an early SLF
Pointer Dart. On arrival into Chatham, it was clear that the town centre was
undergoing refurbishment, the bus station here is a rather gloomy affair
above ground level in the Pentagon centre. Buses entering and leaving via
ramps to street level. Inside the bus station is dark & gloomy (it even made
Luton's old Bute Street bus station look nice) and I understand it will be
demolished in the near future. Plenty more Arriva variety here with other
operators on a smaller scale running mostly tendered services. After a spot
of lunch in a cafe, we set off for Maidstone on the double decker worked 101
route. These are ADL Enviro 400's similar to those used on the 280 in
Aylesbury although without leather seats.
We arrived into Maidstone early afternoon, again bus passengers arrive into
a terrible dark gloomy bus station, only difference being that Maidstone's
is not big enough for the number of buses trying to use it. All three places
did have Arriva bus information offices open though, its much rarer to find
information offices in Arriva's Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire areas.
Killed a few hours in Maidstone before taking our final bus of the day, a
333 to Sittingbourne which was worked by a Volvo B7. It was unbearably hot
on board with the heaters going on a hot day, and the bus really struggled
with any hills despite being only about 6 years old. Very pleasant ride
through some nice Kent villages to Sittingbourne. A little bit of variety
here with Chalkwell appearing alongside some community bus operations. We
had a brief stop before going to the station to get a train back to London.
This was another highlight, a trip on the High Speed South Eastern line
train to St Pancras international. Very lightly loaded train as we passed
back towards the Thames, the section from Gravesend to Stratford is high
speed and we raced under the Thames and through Essex in no time at all.
Very enjoyable day out and great value at £6.40 for a day explorer ticket.
016 - Fastrack B7 GN07AVL at Greenhithe station with the QE2 Dartford Bridge
in the background.
025 - R629VEG - an ex London Dart SLF of EnsignBus on the X80 between
Lakeside & Bluewater Shopping centres
027 - MLH304L - an ex London DM Fleetline of RedRoute buses taken on fuel at
030 - Fastrack B7 at the end of the line in Gravesend town centre.
gloomy Pentagon bus station in Chatham
More Chatham variety from Arriva, with independent operators Chalkwell &
Kings Ferry also operating some routes alongside Arriva low cost unit
Nu-Venture and then
Arriva & Nu Venture variety in Maidstone. Even a visiting Stagecoach bus
from East Kent. Followed by
Maidstone's grim Chequers bus station, pictures from Sittingbourne and
Arriva buses with community transport services and Chalkwell buses present.
readers have enjoyed this article which I must thank John Hammond for. It
just shows what an interesting day one can have for a very small outlay.
Malta Story – part 2 by Gavin Francis
In January 1970 London Transport introduced a new class of bus to the
streets of London when 11 SM class vehicles started working from Catford
garage on the route 160. These buses followed on from a batch of 665 buses
classed as Merlins which were 36ft long and had powerful 11.3 litre engines.
The length had proved a problem particularly where they had been replacing
the much shorter RT. London Transport decided the answer was to build a
shorter bus at 33ft 5ins but with only an 8.2 litre engine and to be classed
By March 1972 the whole class of 838 buses had been delivered with the last
ones entering service on 11th March on Route 203 from Hounslow
garage. They had however proved to be unreliable and sales started in
October 1976 when the buses were only 6 years old. Two places where many of
the buses found new homes were Northern Ireland and Malta.
In the early 1980s approximately 60 Swifts were sent to Malta and of these
about 47 still survive many having been heavily rebuilt by their owner
drivers giving them all individual treatment. Most of them have had their
engines moved from the rear to underfloor and changed from automatic to
manual gearboxes so really making them similar to an AEC Reliance however
some do retain their rear engine layout.
This could well be the last full year that they are active as The Government
are keen to withdraw and scrap virtually all the old buses and replace them
with new low floor buses. If Arriva are awarded the contract to run the
buses on the island they have stated they may well send over about 60 of the
bendy buses they now have surplus following their withdrawal from London. If
this happens I am sure it will only be a matter of time before the Maltese
engineers graft the back section onto the front section and produce a rigid
Again many thanks to Chris Maxfield for supplying some of the pictures
particularly the Ministry of Education ones. The pictures are taken in
Valletta unless otherwise stated.
My next article will cover some recent arrivals on the island –
SM 8 (EBY 625).
This was one of the buses allocated to Catford on the first day of Swift
operation in 1970. The first picture taken in 1980 shows it operating in
Greenford very near the end of its service in London as by the end of the
year it was in Malta. The 1982 picture taken in Mellieha shows it in the
previous green livery with registration Y-1326 and having acquired the front
from an ergomatic cab lorry. The latest picture is taken in Valletta with
another change of front.
SM 18 (DBY 466).
This bus entered service at Hounslow garage in April 1970 on Route 81. By
16th September 1978 it was operating on Route 273 at Greenford
and was exported to Malta in January 1981. It has acquired both a new front
and back with parts donated from a Plaxton Paramount coach. The picture of
the rear view was taken in Ghaxaq.
SM 33 (FBY 662).
April 1970 saw the introduction of this bus into service at Fulwell Garage
on Route 270. By the time this picture was taken in 1979 it had moved on to
Bexleyheath and running the 132 circular. It was exported to Malta in August
1980. Again another bus to have gained a front with parts donated from a
SMD 60 (EBY 576).
New in April 1970 at New Cross Garage running Route 70, it was exported to
Malta in February 1980. Much of the interiors of these buses remain the same
with the gray window surrounds and white ceilings. Even some of the signs in
the cab area are original. The bus is pictured at Sliema in its original
green livery in 1982 and at Rabat in March this year.
SMS 200. (DBY 301).
Entered service at Hounslow Garage in January 1971 but after only 9 years in
service including periods of storage it was withdrawn from Uxbridge in
September 1980 and immediately dispatched to Malta. 31st March
1978 sees it operating the 273 in Greenford. Another bus to have been fitted
with the front from possibly an AEC lorry.
SMS 202 (FBY 641).
Was delivered to Aldenham in December 1970 but did not enter service at
Enfield Garage until August 1971. Another bus to be withdrawn from Uxbridge
in May 1980 where I had previously photographed it on 29th March
1978. It arrived in Malta in January 1981and again is pictured the following
year in original green livery.
SMS 212 (EBY 634).
Entered service in March on Route 285 from Fulwell Garage and was another
bus to be withdrawn from Uxbridge in April 1980. The picture shows it
operating the 209 route from Harrow Weald. Exported to Malta in August
1981again it is pictured in its green livery in December 1982.
SMS 247 (EBY 541).
New into Croydon Garage in October 1970 like many others this bus lasted
about 10 years in operation before being withdrawn in September 1980 and by
December of the same year was in Malta. The pictures show it in Croydon and
SMS 258 (FBY 744).
New at Thornton Heath garage in October 1970. Lasted just less than 10 years
being withdrawn in July 1980 and was exported to Malta in May 1981. The rear
view shows it waiting at the ferry port at Cirkawwa for passengers from Gozo
which has just arrived.
SMS 268 (EBY 564).
Like SMS 259 SMS 268 started service at Elmers End Garage on the 194,
passing through Finchley and Harrow Weald garages before withdrawal in
September 1980 and export to Malta. It is pictured at North Finchley on 3rd
November 1977 and Sliema in March this year.
SMS 274 (EBY 523).
A third example of a bus new at Thornton Heath on the 194. In December 1982
it was a recent arrival on the island and the owner driver is carrying out
daily checks on it. The latest picture shows the bus to be in immaculate
SMS 275. (FBY 756).
Yet another from the batch new at Thornton Heath. Exported to Malta in April
1981. It is pictured in London service at Brent Cross on 11th
July 1980 and also in Mellieha earlier this year. Again another immaculate
SMS 292. (EBY 589).
This bus entered service in January 1981 at Stockwell Garage on Route 181.
During its time as a London bus it worked from 5 different garages in 10
years before export to Malta in January 1981. Another bus pictured again at
Brent Cross this time on 19th February 1980 and soon after
arrival in Malta in December 1982. In the latest picture it is the front of
a pair of Swifts and shows again the excellent condition of the bus.
SMS 572. (EBY 534).
Delivered to Dalston Garage in April 1971 for operating the 236 route this
bus virtually all of its operating life at this garage with only a short
period in South London before its withdrawal in August 1980. The pictures
show it still to be in almost original condition but has probably had a
different engine fitted needing an extension to the engine cover.
Ministry of Education fleet.
This consists of an operational
fleet of six operated from the maintenance facility at Pembroke. Again the
buses have changed very little in appearance since their arrival. There are
also 4 buses stored which are used as a source of spares for the others.
The pictures show SMS 259 (GVH 140), SMS 260 (GVH 132), SMS 266 (GVH 133),
SMS 337 (GVH 137) and SMS 356 (GVH 141) both in London service and in Malta.
Also shown are some of the stored buses which are being broken up to keep
the others running at Pembroke.
They are SMS 736, SMS 278 and SMS 602.
From Marcus Lapthorn
Have just returned from another trip to Malta. Attached are detail shots of
FBY 744 (formerly EGN 258J in London). as you will see the retention of the
'driver service/self service' signs and split step opening doors is of
interest, as is the gorgeous dash board!
Pic 215 : COY 004 (formerly RMF 588) seen at Valetta bus station.
Pic 377: Former RM 432 which has been converted into a mobile disco!
Seen at the Malta bus rally on Sunday 25 April 2010 is this refurbished
Malta route bus which left for the UK a few days later, where it will be
preserved in Kent.
1946 vintage former Wallace Arnold coach found in Malta quarry in 1998 and
now to be returned to its former glory over the next few years! Seen at
Malta bus rally on Sunday 25 April 2010.
Pic 327: A study in concentration as the lovely vintage driver very
carefully takes EBY 537 from Valetta toward Bugibba on Sunday 25 April 2010.
Pic 332: EBY 537 the Ford ET7 Micalef bodied B36C bus dating from February
1953 at Bugibba bus station. It still looks absolutely superb and would now
seem to be the very last normal control bus still in regular service in
Malta. The end of an era indeed - very sad.
Former COMS NUD 106L now stored at bodybuilders yard in Malta.
Former Thamesdown Transport's Daimler Fleetline OHR 189R with internal signage still carried.
Formerly with Rambler Coaches of St. Leonards on Sea, BCY 902 has
largely retained the original UK livery when it was N625 PYJ.
EBY 473 is a Ford with a very powerful Perkins engine and was rebodied in
2001 by Caruana and looks absolutely fantastic - so well cared for it puts
many newer buses to shame! It was known as XBH859S when in the UK.
When I was in Malta in October 2009 I rode on FBY 661 which is a Willlys
model 265 normal control former lorry chassis dating from 1934 and carried a
1949 Brincat bus body. The chassis was 75 years old and my driver that day
was around 78 years old - so 153 years life experience between them!
In April 2010 I found FBY 661 in a very sad state indeed in a farm yard near
to Golden Bay. It is rumoured that the bus is to be restored and there is
some evidence of work having been carried out. However with the dreaded
Malta bus reforms imminent I would be surprised if it ever saw service
Malta's first 'green bus' is FBY 798!
As you liked the Swift photographs here are a couple more. These are taken
at the Education Dept garage, which contains a mixture of operational Swifts
(total of 4 only now) and buses that are not serviceable, but have been used
as a source of spare parts for the others.
GVH 133 formerly EGN 266J in London.
GVH 140 formerly EGN 259J in London.
readers will have enjoyed these articles on Malta kindly provided by Gavin
Francis and Marcus Lapthorn. I realise that there is a wide margin between
Oxford and The Chilterns with Malta but so many buses in Malta were once
close to or in our area and I think they often now look fantastic. There is
not much longer for visitors to see these buses as they have been and these
two articles provide an interesting record of current and past operations.
Buses in the Landscape
contender for 'Buses in the Landscape' - DeCourcey 585 taken at Harborough
Magna (church), Warwickshire on Saturday 1 May 2010 en route from Coventry
is still using Metrobuses on local services and this one is seen on the
village green in Stokenchurch. Picture by Gavin Francis.
A night shot of a Transdev Scania, SP122 on the 148 at Shepherds Bush on 5th
May by your Editor.
operation in London run by a smart looking Routemaster.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
Big bus have added no fewer than ten new or second hand buses to their fleet
in 2010. This one plied the street of London in red garb until recently.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
Both taken by Gavin Francis but with a gap of 43 years! One wonders where
RT3238 has been in between times.
One of a new fleet of Bovas which have joined Johnsons of Henley in Arden
fleet. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Travellers Choice of Carnforth Jonckheere visiting Oxford recently. Picture
by Gavin Francis.
The Kemble Steam Extravaganza once again this year, which is taking place at
the Cotswold Airport from Friday 6th – Sunday 8th
Record bus and
coach displays at South-West's largest festival of transport
Gloucestershire Steam & Vintage Extravaganza makes a welcome return to
Cotswold Airport (previously known as Kemble Airfield) this year from
Friday 6th - Sunday 8th August 2010, taking the show in to its 36th
was originally conceived for steam enthusiasts, but the range of exhibits
has grown year on year. It now boasts a huge array of vintage transport,
including buses, coaches, motorcycles, military vehicles, classic cars,
tractors, aircraft, commercial vehicles, traction engines and historic
caravans. A live action arena, interactive demonstrations, rare breeds,
shire horses, trade stands and a vintage fun fair along with hundreds of
curiosity stalls ranging from Victorian memorabilia, antique sewing and
knitting machines to model dolls houses, petrol pumps, vintage garden tools
and 1940s – 1950’s home wares makes this three day extravaganza one of the
UK's best value family outdoor shows.
Widely regarded as a show within a show, the bus section has grown from
humble beginnings to a vintage vehicle rally in its own right. Attracting
exhibits from the length of the land as well as from foreign climes as far
as china, the line up of vehicles is as colourful as it is impressive.
every shape, size and configuration will be represented, with highlights
Bristol built double-decker once operated by Lincolnshire Road Car.
also expect to find an array of preserved buses that you would have perhaps
once travelled on as a child, such as classic Bedford OBs. The section is
certainly a nostalgia trip not to be missed!
Hitchings of the bus and coach section of Gloucestershire Steam & Vintage
Extravaganza says: "Everybody enjoys seeing old buses and coaches because
we each remember special journeys made on them. A ride on a vintage bus is a
trip heavy with nostalgia."
A free vintage bus service will be operating to and from Kemble railway
station throughout the show to connect with selected First Great Western
Trains. A courtesy bus will also shuttle guests to the Bristol Aero
collection. Formed in 1990, this collection records 95 years of Bristol
aviation and space heritage. Based in a large wartime hangar, the collection
includes aircraft, helicopters, missiles and engines. For details of the bus
schedule, please refer to the website
Buses will depart from outside the main show entrance.
Pictures from last year's event
Discounted tickets are available to buy online, please visit
tickets are also available from Local Tourist Information Centres including:
Stroud, Cirencester, Chippenham, Swindon, Malmesbury, Gloucester,
Cheltenham, Cotswolds and Tetbury.
Saturday or Sunday: £10, Weekender: £15
Friday: £6, Saturday or Sunday: £9, Weekender: £13
Friday: £4, Saturday or Sunday: £5, Weekender: £8
free of charge
(2 adults & 2 children)
Sunday family ticket:
£25 (2 adults & 2 children)
Friday – Sunday, 10.00am Public enquiries contact: 01453 890891
donated to the Cobalt Appeal Fund, Diabetes UK & The County Air Ambulance.