When buses competed and
adrenalin ran in
the streets of Bournemouth
When conductors staged a
...... in 1993 and 1994
note - this is a site of historical record and does not contain current
It all started on Monday
17th May 1993 with four crew operated
Routemasters running on route 604 from The Square in central
Bournemouth and out
through Charminster, Winton, Ensbury Park and Kinson to a terminus
at Cunningham Crescent (West Howe).
operated from rented garage
the former trolleybus depot in Southcote Road, and the traffic office
was in what had once been the trolleybus
conductor's cashing up and paying in room.
Part of the reason for the
start of the Routemaster operation - apart from perceived commercial
- was a need to generate income for a transport museum in
Several of the directors were involved with both the bus operation and
The 604 service was
quickly followed on 11th June by three more
route 607 from Bournemouth Square to Boscombe and
Fishermans Walk, and then on 26th June by the open top seaside route
601, linking Boscombe Pier
and Bournemouth Pier to Alum Chine via the overcliff drives.
run out at this time totalled twelve buses (including one for the
circular tour service 600), but only seven were needed on Sundays
when the 604 did not operate. On weekdays bus workings 1 to 4
covered the 604, 11 to 13 were on the 607, and 21 to 24 on the seafront
601. On weekdays there were 15 crew duties and on Sundays 8 crew
duties, in both cases supplemented by two OPO duties for the evening
service on the 601. An additional crew of driver and guide
operated the 600 circular tour.
A weekly 'Mastercard' costing £5 (£3 pensioners or children) was
introduced for unlimited travel on the green bus Routemaster services.
|The first timetable for the 604 in May 1993
|In the first week of
operations, YVS286 (once it had been London Transport's RM809) is seen approaching the Gervis Place
stop at Bournemouth Square on an incoming 604 service.
Eleven Routemasters were acquired in March 1993, ten of which came from
Kelvin Central Buses in Scotland, the other from Taylor of Morley. With
the exception of ALM83B from Kelvin - which retained its registration -
the others were reregistered YVS285 to YVS294, with equivalent fleet
Another twelfth Routemaster ALD959B was loaned by Humphreys of Watford
(a preservationist) whilst a thirteenth WLT621 was hired from Roger
Brown of Shaftesbury. All were repainted in the green and cream livery
of Routemaster Bournemouth. These two vehicles had been respectively
RM1959 and RM621 with London Transport.
|The 1993 timetables incorporating new
route 607 to Boscombe and Fishermans Walk
Alum Chine in 1993 awaiting departure on the summer seafront 601
route to Boscombe Pier (with yours truly
Yellow Buses soon
responded to the perceived attack on their routes by this "upstart"
A fleet of "White Buses"
appeared - but only on the
services covered by Routemaster - with the timetable registered to run
minutes in front of each Routemaster departure.
The picture alongside shows
White Bus OEL122M at
rail station - route W6 shadowed (or
rather preceded) the 604s to Kinson and West Howe. Similarly the
W2 covered the 607 route to and from Fishermans Walk.
In the summer of 1993 the
Routemaster Bournemouth fleet was all double-decked, and comprised
thirteen RMs, three Atlanteans and three Fleetlines. Shortly after
this though Leyland Nationals would arrive and an emphasis would be
placed on one person vehicles.
evolve, and from 19th October 1993 a new timetable was introduced with
the 607 route extended from Fishermans Walk to
Christchurch and Somerford, both as 607 via Cranleigh Road and 608 via
The 604 along Leybourne Avenue was joined by a new 605 along the main
Road in Winton and Moordown and then through Kinson to Bear Cross and
Bear Wood. Seafront service 601 and circular tour 600 had already been
withdrawn for the winter. A new competitive White Bus service W3
was started to cover the 605 route and White Bus W2 was extended to
Somerford. True to name, during the first summer season in 1993,
most of the operations were by crew operated Routemasters.
autumn 1993 onwards through to the end of the services, increasingly a
collection of one person operated Leyland Nationals, Fleetlines and
Volvo Ailsas (ex-Clydeside) played a bigger part in the day to day run
further timetable revision from 2nd December 1993 saw the 605 withdrawn
over the outermost section of route between Kinson and Bear Wood and
diverted instead to run to West Howe, thus becoming a circular service
through Kinson and
West Howe with the 604. The 604 in turn had been rerouted to
operate from Leybourne Avenue along East Howe Lane to West Howe and
thus to Kinson. Vehicles through-routed at Kinson to provide the
circular service in both directions.
Also at this time the 607
and 608 services were cut back
their outer end from Somerford by about a mile to Purewell Cross.
From 14th December new White Bus route W1 was introduced to cover the
608 service which had previously been ignored by the
competition. On 1st January 1994 the
operating base was moved from Southcote Road to the same hangar as was
in use by the transport
museum collection at Hurn Airport, a few miles north of
Bournemouth. In this large hangar Vickers Viscount and BAC111
aircraft had once been constructed in years gone by.
Spring 1994 saw another
timetable issued and the 607 and
were once again extended back out to their Somerford terminus from 14th
March. The 608 was diverted away from Tuckton Road, Southbourne,
along Belle Vue Road. The company celebrated its first
anniversary on 17th May 1994 and RM 293 operated in service on the 607
route with a suitable commemorative shield on high over the top deck
front windows. The seafront 601 service was reintroduced from
28th June as was circular tour 600. White buses W1 and W2 were
withdrawn from 13th June but increased frequencies were operated on the
pre-existing similar 'traditional' Yellow Bus 20 and 23 services.
||RM 292 awaits another departure on the
service to Somerford with driver Peter Holmes
A planned new route that summer was to have
been the 606 to
from Bournemouth Square through Boscombe and Iford to Christchurch,
following the line of the Yellow Bus 20 route, but initially to be
operated evenings and Sundays only. However the 606 never came to
apart from a short-lived single weekday departure from Bournemouth at
18.18, which through a quirk of the duty scheduling was a depot working
from a crew operated running line on the 607.
The competitive commercial operation by
Routemaster Bournemouth had been in
part supported by Clydeside 2000 from Scotland. There is a certain
irony in the operations being based in the former trolleybus depot
which had latterly been the home of the council's dustbin lorries and
street cleaning vehicles. So the same council was renting space to
accommodate buses that were competing on the road with the buses of
transport department! The ownership of Clydeside 2000 changed and the
support given hitherto to Routemaster Bournemouth ended, which was a
significant factor in the financial problems which led to voluntary
But by this second summer season things had
to go wrong, and runs were being missed, especially on the 604s and
605s. Competitive operations ceased with the unfortunate collapse
of Routemaster Bournemouth after fifteen
Efforts were made to attract additional investment but green bus
operations ceased suddenly for
financial reasons after 10th August 1994, by which time only three
were scheduled for daily service (on route 607 short workings from
out of a by then weekday operational requirement of nearly twenty
Although there had been a flurry of
competitive workings by several companies in the Bournemouth area in
1986 and 1987 following the introduction of bus deregulation, by the
time of the advent of the Routemaster operation the incumbent companies
had had six or seven years to consolidate their position in the
conurbation. Also Routemaster (unlike some of the earlier competitors
like Charlies's Cars with their minibuses linking new areas)
contributed nothing new except the 'novelty' of crew operation, and
that advantage was
soon eroded by a change to substantial amounts of one person operation.
think they used to pay me to drive a Routemaster !