Sunday, 11 February 2018

It's All Happening (1)

Monsters Munch Minnows?
Crumbs! Central Succumbs
Two small(er) independent companies have just sold themselves to bigger guys. The every expanding Rotala Group ...
... purchased Central Buses (Birmingham) ...
... from its ludicrously youthful owner Geoff Cross who started it (aged 16!) with his dad in 2003.
The company was fully into electronic fares stuff etc and the operation is smart, techy savvy and professional.
It fits nicely with the other Rotala operations in the Birmingham area.
No doubt Cross the boss will weep a few tears as his baby is rebranded "Diamond".

Inter NATional Sale
ComfortDelgro is based in Singapore and operates buses there, in Chine, in Australia and in even wilder places like Scotland and London. Metroline (London) and Scottish Citylink are the UKs notable representatives of the group.
NAT group (formerly New Adventure Travel) is big in South Wales, operating tendered and commercial services in the great Cardiff and Newport area, but spreading further into the Gower Peninsula and Brecon.

A recent development has been competition with council owned Cardiff Bus. Three cross city services are run at fully competitive frequencies.
The X1 was the first, with the "X" being the "cross", not express.
The company ran into bit of controversy, pre-dating the current craze by a few years! The X1 was promoted by scantily (un)clad young ladies.
Despite protestations from NAT that it was "harmless tongue in cheek fun", the ads were removed after public complaints.

fbb does wonder whether NAT or Cardiff Bus make any money from the competitive routes.

fbb's dad used to sell fruit and veg wholesale as manager of a company with branches throughout the Midlands. Often an upstart business with one aged delivery lorry would appear in one particular area. As dad used to say, "there's a business for one but a disaster for two."

Will ComfortDelgro pull out of the overtly competitive routes or, maybe, make a bid for Cardiff City's bus operation?

You read it here first. 

Or fbb is totally wrong.

Happy Birthday Bus!
One of the Trade Mags (those that attempt to sell fbb some new or second-hand buses) has just recorded a notable anniversary. We have had the Optare Solo (it's a bus body brand) for TWENTY years!

The design has been improved and refined over that period but the Solo is still with us. We now have a Solo Plus which looks a bit different ...
... but it is still a Solo! The article also gave a potted history of  the brand.
Twenty years? It seems just like yesterday.

Lancashire Loony Look-up

Whilst researching his Greyhound Bridge blogs, of recent fame, fbb noted that a couple of Lancaster City service are operated (on tender) by the Kirby Lonsdale company. Route 9 is unchanged but route 8 has a revised timetable because of the bridge closure.

Here is an extract of the revised hourly timetable from the company's web site ...
... and here is the on-line departure list from Lancashire County:-
Oh dear!

Methinks young Alex, who runs the Lancashire confuser system once he has finished his homework, has forgotten to remove the old times. There are other similar examples.

Never mind, eh? All together now ...


... which makes Merseytravel's latest pronouncement very very stupid!

 Next Happenings blog : Monday 12th February 


  1. I didn't know about the sale of NAT, so that's interesting. They are indeed engaged in a mini-bus war here in Cardiff; my objection is that they are creaming off customers from Cardiff Buses who still try to run less popular routes and with a longer service day. Their routes are not quite identical and NAT make a big point of being "cross city", however this does mean that punctuality suffers. They have very recently bought quite a few new Citaros for the X1. NAT seem to be popular with the punters, probably because their basic fares are cheaper. I suspect too that quite a number of folk are dissatisfied with Cardiff Council in general and prefer not to use their buses!

    As for pulling out of scheduled bus work rather than concentrating on contract work, CDG MD and Group CEO Yang Ban Seng has said: “We have been operating bus and coach services across the UK for close to two decades. With this addition of NAT Group, we are broadening our footprint into Wales, and expanding our bus operations outside of London which has always been our strategic intent. We look forward to serving the people of South Wales and introducing new and improved services to meet their travel needs.” So we'll see! At the moment I have 14 buses/hour into the city centre!

  2. Thankfully the angular Optare Solo Plus never caught on. So curvaceous Solos continue.

  3. Young Alex's input IS correct. The software writer has included the ARRIVAL times as well as the departure times.
    Whether this look-up facility is useful has to be questionable - I cannot think of anyone else which offers it in the same format as Lancashire do i.e. solely a list of departure times from bus stations, though of course the full timetables are there too.

    1. Just for the record, those Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire services are commercial rather than tendered. But what you won't find on the company's website are the timetables for tendered services 33 Morecambe-Bare or 51 Carnforth - Silverdale, which they've been running since December.

  4. I wonder what happens when the CDG people arrive at NAT House. Certainly they’ll need to review current custom and practise as there will be little appetite to carry on with them as they are, given their perceived standards.

    Could it be Veolia MK2

    1. Can you expand a bit on that, please?

    2. In what way, Andrew?

    3. I don't understand what you seem to imply about differing standards between CDG and NAT.

  5. Simple - NAT practices and standards will below par when compared with CDG. I know, I have first hand experiences.