Wednesday 28 May 2014

A B C D E F G (part 1)

A is for Albion
built by the Scots.

B is for Bedford

coach firms bought lots.

C is Crusader
love her or hate her.

D is for Daimler
with ribbed radiator.

E is for Elite
de luxe with a view.

F is for Foden
they made just a few.

G is for Gardner
of diesels the king

and H is for Hang On
what is fat bloke doing?

The answer is that he is posing a question. Which bus route had or has the most suffix letters? London had this, for example:-
Route 194C was introduced in 1963 and ran on Sundays only between Forest Hill Station and Croydon Airport via Lower Sydenham, Penge, Anerley, Elmers End, Eden Park, West Wickham, Shirley Way, East Croydon, and Denning Avenue. It was withdrawn in 1970 and replaced by route 119B, and the reintroduction of the 194 on Sundays. The route only lasted seven years.

fbb's sample was from the "E plates" web site (here). There have been plenty of "A" suffixws in London, fewer "B"s and very few "C"s. More examples can be found on Ian Armstrong's excellent site (here).
Birmingham used "E", memorably on the famous outer circle route 11.
And, of course, there are plenty of "X" suffixes, including the fbb's recent experience in Largs ...
... used for one peak hour "commuter" journey to Glasgow and back.
But that suffix letter is just a one off. fbb wonders which company has/had the longest set of continuously alphabetical suffix letters?

Bear in mind that such route number adornments have gone out of fashion, a trend pioneered by Trent many years ago with their

 1 _______ and   1 _______ going to different destinations.

But Trent has always been in favour of crazy route numbers. Other operators had a "hundredification" policy; adding hundred(s) to the base number, a feature of Sheffield Transport in the 1960s.
Another set which did exist all at the same time was:-
But, to repeat, we are looking at suffix letters.

To give our readers time to think; and add comments, fbb will not reveal his candidate until later. But his recent holiday may offer a clue.

There's more to come - plenty more!
fbb was (rightly!) castigated for a brain failure yesterday; they seem to happen more frequently these days. But you would expect a bus company to be able to spell the towns it serves, wouldn't you? This from Plymothian Transit yesterday (read here).
Presumably the "lad" or "lass" simply gave up on Great Torrington?

Or is it short for "Guess the Town"? And in the company's timetable list, the 75B comes between services 9 and 12 ...
... an obvious place to look. And, no; it is not cross-referenced later on in the list.
Well now, we wouldn't want to make it easy for the customers to understand, would we? And, just for the record, the Plymouth Citybus route number 75B is a Sunday tendered offspring of the Monday to Saturday Stagecoach group of services.

 Next bus blog : Thursday 29th May 


  1. In the Bristol area, Wessex have the 3A, 3B, 3C and 3X. But no longer is there a 3...

    Does a number coiunt as a suffix, or does it gave to be a letter? Kings Ferry have the C1, C2, C3, C4 and C9 which are all different joiurnerys on the same route. Similarly, the C5, C6, C7, C8 and C10.

  2. Good try Colly405. The query, however, was for suffix letters.

  3. There was a Southern National group of services in the Weymouth area numbered 22,22A-22G,22K,22L,22M
    all being variants of the Upwey to Portland Bill service and side places in 1965. Not sure whether 22H,I,J ever existed though

  4. 1. Birmingham used A-F, H, J, K and L for short workings. Some routes used the full set. From c1975 West Midlands PTE wisely dropped these and used E for all short workings- not just on the Outer Circle- and A and C for anti/clockwise circulars.
    2. The undisputable (he said bravely) winner has to be Western SMT. In the Summer 1968 timetable, 76 was Dumfries-Stranraer. 76B/C/D/H/R/S were shorts or variants of this, and 76A/F/G/I/J/K/M/N/T/W/Y/Z. 76M was actually two routes (Stranraer-New Luce and Kirkcudbright-Borgue) about 35 miles apart which perhaps shows how seriously these were sometimes used in practice!

  5. Sorry- a line got missed- it should say '76A........Z were other routes in the Galloway area'.

  6. Fascinating historical stuff. fbb's recent/current contender pales into insignificance by comparison. But we shall see in dues course .....

  7. My candidate is the 406 which spawned suffixes A through to F.
    406F operated on 'special race days' between Epsom Station and Epsom Racecourse and the number is still used today (by Go Ahead London). The other variants 406A/B/C/D/E no longer run.

  8. Back in the 1960s, Portsmouth Corporation had a route 143 which ran to Leigh Park and Havant, with various short-workings and branches. On the outward journeys, each of the variants had a different suffix letter - buses running all the way to Havant were 143A, those stopping short at Leigh Park were 143B and so on, up to 143F. The slightly interesting thing is that all the return journeys were 143, without any suffix - presumably because they were all heading to the same destination, so there was no need to distinguish between them.

  9. In 1972 City of Oxford routes 6 and 7 ran between Wood Farm Estate in Oxford and Burford via Eynsham, Witney and Carterton. There were many variations in route so service numbers 6,6A-6F &,7,7A-F were all used. That makes 14 different route variations even if the suffix letters only ran to F.

  10. Anyone ever seen Q used as a suffix?

  11. I'm with Dennis Drat in nominating Western SMT service 76, which I believe did use every letter from A to Z except O at one time or another. It arose because Western chose at the time to use only two digit route numbers (except joint service 100 Dumfries-Edinburgh), so didn't have enough to go round!