Numerically we may not be the largest of the OS branches but we cover an enormous area roughly aligning with the South Wales and the Western Traffic Areas, or from Aberystwyth to Land's End and across to Bournemouth. Such a wide and varied area does mean that our Bulletin, which is published 5 or 6 times a year, is always packed. Our editorial team records changes from operators large and small, often explaining why these changes took place. But the Bulletin doesn't stop there: each issue contains articles on current and historical operations in our area, reports on our days out, and the chance for members to give their slant on what's going on. To view a recent bulletin click here.
Our annual AGM takes place in Bristol, being more or less the centre of our area, in mid-March, and is followed by a talk by an invited speaker. This and other meetings, tours, talks, and the pre-Christmas Cardiff Quiz (where we compete against teams from other enthusiast groups) are all listed on our calendar page.
Members' photographs illustrate various recent events in our area. Further contributions are welcomed by the web-page administrator: firstname.lastname@example.org
In May 2017 Wessex made another attempt to make inroads into the commercial network in Bristol by introducing their service 90 (Broadmead - Inns Court) which competed on part of the route of First's own 90. Evidently the outcome for Wessex was less successful than planned and the service was deregistered to finish in August. However withdrawal was brought forward to 22 July. BX58AOV, a Plaxton Centro bodied Volvo B7RLE is pictured in Three Queens Lane on the final day - on diversion because of road closures in the City Centre associated with the annual Harbour Festival. [RAK]
NAT's supplementary route 202, Pontypridd - Rhydyfelin, was withdrawn after Saturday 22nd July 2017. It had only operated during the inter-peak period and, combined with NAT's trunk 102 route, provided a 10 minute frequency between the bus station and Pinewood Avenue. Notably in recent times route 202 was the only bus service in the Pontypridd area operated by double-deckers. Scania LX59 CRV, originally new to East London Buses, was pictured passing the Municipal Buildings when working the 13:39 departure from Pontypridd on 14th June 2017. While this was expected to mark the end of double-deck operation in Pontypridd, the same bus was subsquently observed operating service 111 on Saturday 19th August. [GAG]
The Builth Wells to Llanwrtyd Wells route is among the local bus services passing from Browns of Builth Wells to Celtic Travel at the end of July 2017. Optare Solo OCZ 8829, with a non-functioning destination display, was photographed on Thursday 20th July 2017 at the Llanwrtyd Wells terminus prior to returning to Builth Wells on the 13:11 service 48 journey. This bus was new to the Flexibus division of Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland and retained its original registration number. [GAG]
Between 1978 and 1980 City of Cardiff Transport purchased 71 Alexander bodied Bristol VR buses, two of the 1979 delivery (359 and 360) having a detachable roof allowing them to be used in open-top form during the summer months, usually on local tours. Cardiff ceased operating open-top services in 1998 and 360 was sold early the next year, passing through a few owners until Cardiff Transport Preservation Group (CTPG) acquired it in 2014. By agreement with CTPG, earlier this year 360 moved to Cardiff Bus’s Leckwith depot where it was refurbished, prepared for service, fitted with the latest Ticketer machine and painted in Cardiff Corporation Tramways colours. From Friday 14th July 2017 it has been participating in the operation of a supplementary timetable to the Cardiff Bus baycar (route 6) service over the section between St Mary Street and the Millennium Centre at CardiffBay. On its first day, 360 is about to leave St Mary Street on the 11.55 departure. [GAG]
The annual Air Festival weekend in Weston-super-Mare draws large crowds, particularly if the weather is benign. This year's event was no exception and Crosville used their open top Bristol FSF to help out on their 100 service to SandBay. Pictured climbing Crookes Lane in Kewstoke on 17 June 2017, 891VFM is on its way back to Weston. [RAK]
Browns of Builth Wells have been operating a Wednesday and Saturday shopping service to Hereford more or less continuously since 1949. The current form has existed since 1965 but will cease on 24th July when Celtic Travel of Llanidloes will take over the Wednesday service under contract to Powys Council. The Saturday journeys were withdrawn on 3rd January this year. Browns have consistently operated coaches on this service (now numbered X15) but recently have employed a plain white Optare Solo, pictured here arriving in Hereford on Wednesday 12th July. [ACF]
Few may be aware that Arriva Midlands operates a contracted bus service between Knighton (just over the border in Wales) and Ludlow. The timetable shows four return journeys on Monday to Saturday and the service is operated by an Optare Solo from Shrewsbury garage nearly 40 miles away! Here Solo 2500: YJ57 EKA stands at the Knighton terminus ready to depart on the 09:45 journey to Ludlow on Saturday 8th July. [ACF]
A report in SWW Bulletin 194 explained the new services for the Glan Llyn (translation Lakeside) housing estate being developed on former steelworks land at Llanwern. Here Newport Bus Scania OmniCity 117: YT11 LUJ, operating the 15:47 service 74C journey from Underwood on 5th July 2017, picks up passengers within Glan Llyn at the bus stop in Baldwin Drive, a street name recognising the company (Richard Thomas and Baldwin) that created the steelworks.
Cardiff Bus route X59 provides a link from the East park and ride site at Pentwyn to the city centre. On Friday 7th July extra journeys were operated for potential students and accompanying family attending an Open Day at CardiffUniversity. A mixture of artics and double deckers provided a frequent service direct to the main University buildings at CathaysPark. Well loaded Alexander Dennis Enviro400MMC 308: CN65 AAX prepares to depart, while a Scania artic and another Enviro400 wait to pull forward. [GAG]
As reported in SW&W Bulletin 194, Taf Valley Coaches / Bysiau Cwm Taf replaced First Cymru in operating service 381 between Haverfordwest, Narberth and Tenby. On 5th July, Alexander Dennis Enviro200 YX63 ZVK arrives in South Parade, Tenby. [DM]
SW&W Bulletin 194 also reported that Richards Brothers has taken on a larger proportion of the journeys on service 460 linking Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn and Carmarthen. On 5th July, Optare Versa YJ59 GFU leaves Carmarthen Bus Station for Cardigan. [DM]
As reported in SW&W Bulletin 194, on 6th March New Adventure Travel (NAT) started a new X8, Thornhill - Cardiff Bay service in competition with Cardiff Bus. One week later Cardiff Bus increased the frequency and introduced night buses on its Thornhill 27 service. In Templeton Avenue, Llanishen on 26th June, NAT Optare MetroCity YJ16 DZD heads for Cardiff Bay (despite the destination display) when operating the 12.10 journey from Thornhill. By this point it had overtaken Cardiff Bus Scania OmniCity 722: CN57 BHY, working the competing 12.08 service 27 departure from Thornhill. [GAG]
Also on 6th March, New Adventure Travel (NAT) extended its X11 Pentwyn – Cardiff city centre route to Cardiff Bay. Mercedes Benz Citaro K BF65 HTY in Westgate Street, Cardiff on 23rd June shows the “crosscity” branding for this route. [DM]
With no Glastonbury Festival next year, this year's festival may have been the last time that Bristol VRs operated on the Rail and Ride shuttle between Castle Cary station and Pilton. Among those provided by Chepstow Classic Buses, Bristol VRT/SL3 / ECW UFX 856S is seen at the festival site on 21st June. Unusually this bus received a roof transplant late in life to convert it to closed top from permanent open-top, after originally being a convertible open-top. [ACF]
Bath Bus Company celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. A new Navigatours branding has been introduced for its Cardiff sightseeing tour, the first vehicle to carry it being Volvo B7L / Ayats Bravo City 375: EU05 VBN, seen at the Castle Street starting point on 23rd June. [DM]
For TrawsCymru service T4 linking Cardiff and Newtown, Stagecoach in South Wales is replacing Optare Tempos dating from 2005 with reliveried Scania K230UB / Alexander Dennis Enviro300s from its 2015 batch, such as 28735: YN15 KGJ seen arriving in Westgate Street, Cardiff on 23rd June. [DM]
A straying StreetLite - Stagecoach UK’s only Wrightbus StreetLite WFs to date are the batch of ten based at Merthyr Tydfil for local services. However, very occasionally one escapes to Brecon outstation in lieu of a Solo. Even more rarely a StreetLite is used on the peak College Day journeys on lengthy service 39, Brecon - Hay – Hereford, as happened on 13th June when 43008: CN12 ASU is shown in New Market Street, Hereford on the return working to Brecon. [ACF]
A new event in our area this year was the Bournemouth Bus Rally held on Saturday 10th June. Among the vehicles on display was Yellow Buses 200: YN17 MTO, the first of the batch of 6 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC buses to have recently entered the fleet. [KP]
As reported in SW&W Bulletin 194, Harton Coaches of Barry took over service 90, Barry – Wenvoe - Culverhouse Cross, from Easyway on 3rd April 2017. Dennis Dart SLF / Plaxton Pointer2 SNZ 1023 is seen on 13th June at the Culverhouse Cross shopping centre terminus. Service 90 ceased a month later when the Traffic Commissioner revoked the operating licence of Harton Coaches, the last day of operation being Thursday 13th July 2017." [GAG]
Hay-on-Wye lies just inside our SW&W area, and the Hay Festival at the end of May brought much increased bus activity. Herdman Coaches of Clyro provided a shuttle service between the town centre and Festival site, as well as a park & ride service from Clyro Court. Two of Herdman’s ex West Midlands Optare Solos, T318 UOX and T306 UOX, in contrasting liveries, are seen here in Oxford Road on the Town Shuttle service. [AF]
At the Chippenham Rally on Sunday 21st May, hot sunny weather made Bristol FS6G / ECW open-top 869 NHT a popular choice for trips. Here it is seen at Lacock. The bus was originally 8579 in the Bristol Omnibus fleet, built from new in 1961 as a convertible open-top for use on the Weston super Mare seafront service. [AF]
On 8th May, Phil Anslow Coaches of Pontypool, introduced Cross Valley Express combined service X1 linking Brynmawr, Abertillery and Pontypool and its continuation X1A to Cwmbran. Alexander Dennis Enviro200 YY64 TXT picks up passengers in Hanbury Road, Pontypool on 8th June before heading south to Cwmbran. [DM]
Also on 8th June, but further north on Phil Anslow's X1 service towards Brynmawr, another Alexander Dennis Enviro200, YX62 EEY, loads in High Street, Abertillery. This bus was initially an Alexander Dennis demonstrator, and was previously operated by neighbouring operator Peakes Coaches of Pontypool. [DM]
Three weeks earlier, on 17th April, Phil Anslow had introduced service X1B between Cwmbran and Newport, via Llanyravon. A new addition to the fleet, and another Alexander Dennis Enviro200, YX17 NYP is about to leave Cwmbran Bus Station for Newport on 8th June. [DM]
In March, Cardiff Bus introduced a batch of 10 Alexander Dennis Enviro200 MMC buses, the first of the MMC (Major Model Change) design for the fleet. No. 557: CN17 BGZ is shown on 23rd June in Castle Street, Cardiff on service 61 from Pentrebane. Another batch of 10 Alexander Dennis Enviro200s has since entered service, but these are stock vehicles to the earlier design.
Two Alexander Dennis Enviro400 ‘Virtual Electric’ hybrid buses are on trial in Bristol in a partnership involving First West of England, the Department for Transport, Bristol City Council and University of the West of England (UWE). They run on service 72 to UWE and use GPS-based ‘geo-fencing’ to switch to pure electric mode along sections of the route where air quality is poor. First 39191: SN65 ZGS shows the special ‘electricity’ livery and branding as it turns out of Nelson Street on 11th March 2017. [DM]
The other of the Bristol pair of Enviro400VEs is First 39192: SN65 ZGT, shown plugged in to Hengrove depot on 13th May. [DM]
Plymouth Citybus Alexander Dennis Enviro400 508: WF63 LYS is adorned with a promotional ‘Love our past Step into the Future’ wrap showing old photographs of the city. The photographic display extends to the interior ceilings as well, including this assortment with a transport theme, so today’s passengers can admire a charabanc, tram, Titans and Atlanteans whilst on board. [DM]
We now have a batch of CNG-powered buses in our area, Go-Ahead having transferred 12 MAN / Caetano EcoCity buses from Anglian Bus to Plymouth Citybus in October 2016. Citybus 707: WX62 HHE is in Royal Parade, Plymouth on service 14A to Mutton Cove on 21st April.
Dorset County Council took over Dorchester town services 1, 2 and 6 from Damory Coaches in August 2016 (see SW&W Bulletin 191). Optare Solo YJ58 PGU is at the Trinity Street stop in the town centre on 4th April. [DM]
First Hampshire & Dorset’s Weymouth depot has received some of the batch of Volvo B7RLE / Wrightbus Eclipse Urban 2 buses that until recently provided the “Eclipse” express service between Fareham and Gosport. They have gained route branding for Weymouth routes, those for route 2 to Littlemoor sporting pale green fronts as shown by 69553: BF12 KWM at the King’s Statue stop on 3rd April. [DM]
In January 2017, First West of England introduced 3 new Alexander Dennis Enviro400MMC buses onto the Severn Express route linking Bristol with Chepstow and Newport. First 33488: YX66 WGO picks up in Chepstow Bus Station on 21st March 2017, and shows fare details in Welsh on the off-side. [DM]
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