Thursday, 4 June 2015


Were the Good Old Days Good?
Arriva gets no prizes for information from the deluded denizens of Groby. Prior to 2014, both service 26 (light blue) and 28 (mud green)  diverted via the leafy glades of Groby's estates ...
... i.e. via Stephenson Way and Woodbank Road on the above map.
From the 2014 change, these roads now only had the hourly 28 (which used to be half hourly, hence the routeing of the 26 to compensate); the 26 whizzes straight down Ratby Road.
There had been considerable local angst about poor timekeeping for route 26. When Arriva announced the change, there was considerable local angst about the reduction of service on Woodbank Road etc. But the publicity was appalling. This from the "Groby on-line" web site.

As promised Arriva has printed new timetables for the 26 service through Groby and the route map now shows that it travels straight down Ratby Road. There may be some red faces in the organisation, however, as the Leicester departures page that has the times of the buses haven't been updated and still says that the service turns on to Stephenson Way and Woodbank Road. Oops!

Passengers share the frustration that Arriva doesn't communicate with them. They have seen for themselves the difficulties that the drivers are faced with and it is not surprising that they cannot keep to time. When asked which part of the route was the worst following the elimination of the "estates" obstacle course one driver who was still running late replied “all of it.”

But this wiggle is of interest when we look back at the 1964 list of services along the Groby Road.
Service  L33  ("L" for Leicester local routes) runs through Groby centre, 
... timepoint The Stamford Arms, to Martinshaw Lane ...
 ... (centre of the above map) which is the equivalent of the first wiggle of today's route  28 .

Next on he list above we have the  665  the near equivalent of today's  29X . It ran along the then main road (A50) via Groby and the northern edge of Markfield to Coalville.  667  and  668  were used for main road routes continuing to Ashby de la Zouch and Burton on Trent.

Which leaves the bus with the mark of the beast,  666 , running via "Charnborough Estate"; and equally occasional  677  via Copt Oak (i.e. the rural way) both to Whitwick. Of course, independent Browns Blue also ran to Whitwick. This (Midland Red plus Browns) equates to today's  29A , but, back then,  terminating at Whitwick (Dumps?). The service between Coalville and Whitwick was provided by a Coalville "local".

So let's look at a chunk of the 1964 timetable for buses along the Groby Road.
The L33 was hourly as is today's 28. The 667 and 668 run hourly to Coalville continuing every two hours to Burton. Todays 29X is hourly to Coalville.. The half hourly schedule between Leicester and Coalville adds a  669  and a  673   to the mix.
These routes provide more circuitous routes between Coalville and Burton on Trent (669) and a local leg in Coalville to Donington le Heath (673) ...
... but the detail is outside the scope of thus Groby-based blog. Which leaves the  670  and  696  which, with the aformentioned 666 fizzle out at Markfield and Bardon. They actually set off for places other than Coalville and Burton
These come into our review because they provide journeys every two hours (approx) via Markfield Village (asterisked journeys).
The service to Coalville whizzed pass on the A50 (red road). Today's 29A is half hourly but Markfield has growed a bit!
Of course, the Midland Red table showed all buses via Groby and beyond. There were other routes and, historically, other operators; BUT, in as close a comparison as is possible, main road frequencies in 2015 are remarkably similar to the good old days of 50 years ago.

fbbn suspects, however, that Midland Red buses were carrying more passengers at cheaper fares in real terms.

As a PS, it may be appropriate to record a brief outburst of competition on the Coalville Road.

This little article appeared locally in Groby, way back in 2010.
"Try a Starburst,” said the lady at the bus stop. Having just missed the bus into Leicester chewing what I still think of as an Opal Fruit seemed an attractive proposition. When no sweet was forthcoming she explained she was talking about the new bus service from Coalville to Leicester launched on July 13th.

Starburst is the name given to the growing bus network being developed from Paul James Coaches based at Hugglescote.
It may sound like a local firm doing well and indeed they were doing so well they attracted the attention of Veolia Transport who launched a takeover.
The service to Coalville (50/50A) did not last long, neither did Veolia's onslaught on the British Bus market; one French invasion repulsed!

fbb could find no illustrations of Paul James' "Starburst" vehicles.

 Next bus blog : Friday 5th June 


  1. Midland Red took over Browns Blue in 1963, so they weren't still running as well as BMMO by 1964; the 666, 677 and 696 replaced their services, along with diversions of some others.

  2. Thanks DD. I probably knew that!

    But forgot.

  3. Thanks for past few days' excellent articles re: Groby Road services - particularly the interesting historical record. In terms of current publicity, the roadside displays should indeed show combined services along Groby Road into Leicester but Arriva's printed material deserves credit. At least 3 different timetable booklets are available for the 29A/29X - one for the Leicester group of services (26/27/28/29A/29X as shown); one for the Burton end (covering the 9/9A continuation of the 29A, and route 8 which also operates from Swadlincote); and a larger sized leaflet covering the whole 9/9A/29A/29X, with clear information about connecting services in Coalville. In times of cutbacks, the recent changes see an additional three vehicles operating these services Mon-Sat daytime. Although the 29X doesn't really deliver on 'express' journey times, efforts have been made to reflect traffic conditions and the timetable interworks with the longer route 26 ('switching' at Coalville). All in all, not a bad job by Arriva - although the coordination of peak-time services could be better IMHO. Finally, as a Whitwickian, thanks too for highlighting the ongoing debate about the location of our third city!