Lost Welsh Independent Bus Companies

It was before Christmas 2017 when the idea for this post entered my head after learning about more Welsh bus company collapses. Though I might have had the motivation to write it up then, the topic felt unseasonal so I left it to one side for a while.

There are plenty of reasons why the subject is too sober for what was supposed to be a joyful time of year. In the companies listed below, there seems to be a repeating story of hardship and subsequent collapse. In some cases, business management was not what it should and the Welsh traffic commissioner never takes too kindly to sudden closure of any bus company and there has been too much cause for hearings to take place in Welshpool.

Most of the affected concerns operated rural bus routes under council contracts, an easier revenue earner during the years of Labour government in London but much tougher now in more austere times. Such is the geography of Wales, that many firms prospered once more funding was on offer from the late nineties until the end of the next decade. One bus industry professional commented that he was involved in setting up a business in the nineties because public subsidy was about to increase and the Cheshire bus network was much stronger back then so the same might have been possible for Wales.

That is not how it is now and bus patronage cannot be helped by service cuts either so a vicious circle comes into being. Then, smaller firms suffer and the hilly nature of Wales makes it hard too for large operators with Arriva and Veolia pulling out of mid Wales. It all makes for a troubled network so the presence of the Welsh Government support TrawsCambria network is invaluable because we cannot say that all is well yet.

When you see the list below, it is easy to see how instability can rein so anything that helps has to be good. After all, bus passengers need to sure that services will operate as advertised and the last thing that councils need is repeated re-tendering of services. Hopefully, the decline can be halted and we see a reduced number of failures over time. You only can hope for better.

D & J Jones and Son

In the wake of the collapse of GHA Coaches, this Wrexham based operator took on a lot of extra work before it too collapsed immediately before Christmas 2017. It was said that staffing issues were the cause rather than financial pressures but it left Wrexham Council with the task of replacing many services in order to keep transport services going in the borough.

Express Motors

2018 started with much change in the bus network in northwest Wales (Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy) because of this operator’s loss of its licence. The cause was a coach crash in France that revealed discrepancies in vehicle maintenance records. There were two family owned companies on site with similar names, one offering private and the other providing local bus services. Both were closed and a replacement company appears not to have been set up to continue in the bus service business. The result is that all council contracted routes were retendered.

GHA Coaches

GHA Coaches rose very quickly across North and Mid Wales as well as Cheshire and Shropshire. It now looks as if the expansion may have been too rapid for service quality declined and cashflow problems meant that taxes were unpaid and service quality suffered too. In the end, the company was wound up by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The company’s directors tried starting another company but were disqualified from continuing with such operations by the traffic commissioner, an understandable action given how quickly GHA Coaches had collapsed and the chaos that resulted.

Padarn Bus

Llanberis’ Padarn Bus was another bus company that failed in northwest Wales and there was a fraud investigation mounted after that happened. That happened in 2014 and so comes before others on this list. It was a sign of what was to come.

Silcox Coaches

This Pembrokeshire operator failed for financial reasons not long before GHA Coaches. The business had been sold in order to gain added investment that never materialised. It then was bought back by the family that owned for much of its long history but it never recovered.

Christmas 2017 and New Year 2018 Alterations to Public Transport Services in the U.K.

It may be November but news about festive transport arrangements is starting to appear. It has been a while since I collated these because of other things happening in my life but this is where I plan to collect anything I find on an ongoing basis. It could be worth checking this again, especially as we get closer to the time in question.

Rail Travel

Network Rail generally schedules a lot of engineering work for the Christmas and New Year period so it is best to check their travel summary before making big plans. In some ways, their choice of timing always amazes me because more people have time for travel when they are not working. Is it reduced by family activities and the visiting of friends? The answer to that question may reveal a lot.

We seem to be seeing a lot of strike activity this year and some is set to continue into 2018 too. Virgin Trains and CrossCountry are affected by one day stoppages that mean reductions in the service levels that they can offer. Not all operators are affected though and Great Western Railway is one of those who only need to contend with engineering works on parts of their network.

English Midlands

This year First Potteries is early off the mark with details of how its services will look between Christmas Eve and New Years Day, inclusive. No doubt, others will follow suit and both Arriva in the Midlands and Stagecoach Midlands already have done so. Network West Midlands has its own port of call for similar information about their patch.

Northeast England

Both Arriva in the North East and Arriva in Yorkshire has posted details of their seasonal service levels and there are more details like this from transport authorities like South Yorkshire Transport, West Yorkshire Metro and Nexus.

Northwest England

Industrial action at Arriva Northwest has been continuing with strike days planned for the run up to Christmas. Some of these were to come in multiples and there is one foursome immediately preceding Christmas Eve itself, which hardly is in the spirit of the season though many in Merseyside supported the strike. Thankfully, much of this has been avoided and the dispute resolved so we can focus on planned seasonal service changes instead.

In keeping with the time of year, Merseytravel has created a booklet summarising the services available over the Christmas and New Year period and Transport for Greater Manchester has its own posting on the subject. Operators such as Stagecoach Manchester, High Peak Buses and D & G Buses are getting in on the act too so their websites are worth checking. The last two of these also extend into places like Derbyshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire so it was tricky to know where to put them. Boundaries can be very artificial at times.

Southern England

Stagecoach South has announced its arrangements for the winter holiday season. Only Christmas Day will see no buses operating which should see something for shoppers and others to use on the next day. Arriva’s bus operations in Bedfordshire & Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & Essex and Kent & Surrey seem to be something similar, albeit on a more limited basis. Greater provision of public transport services over the festive season also appears to be a theme for the arrangements described by Transport for London. Only Christmas Day sees an absence of services though engineering work affects London’s railways throughout the period.


Dumfries and Galloway Council have created a summary of service levels over the festive period. Given how rural this part of Scotland is, this is a useful thing to have. For this and other parts of Scotland, Traveline also have their own summaries of seasonal alterations over the same period. That should help when information is unavailable elsewhere. If you prefer to check what individual operators have to say, some are helpful like Stagecoach North Scotland, Borders Buses and Lothian Buses so what they provide should come in handy.


Like Llew Jones International, Arriva in Wales has posted their summary of service changes for the festive period as has Gwynedd Council for their part of Wales. While Traveline Wales offers a principality-wide compilation, more should follow as I find them.

Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016 Alterations to Public Transport Services

It is coming a bit late this year but here is my Yuletide and New Year summary of public transport services for 2015/6. Items will get added as I find them so it is worth returning here time and again throughout the festive season.

While some operators have left their Christmas and New Year service pages with the same addresses as last year, most leave them as fleeting seasonal items. The exceptions include High Peak Buses, Arriva Trains Wales and London Midland and there is something to be said for that. Otherwise, I am gathering together what has come my way so you can go on yours. Some like Arriva may have a hub for their bus services where you can start your search for information on their Christmas and New Year services but most are regional and is how I have arranged things here.


Traveline Cymru again have their service summary posted online. Information for most major bus companies is included and there are plenty of links included if you need to find out more. Edwards’ service changes are below and Cardiff Bus’s Park and Ride service changes are online as are those affecting Arriva bus services, First buses in south & west Wales and anything operated by GHA Coaches.

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Merseytravel have their usual service round-up for the time of year and there are some free buses running on Christmas day too. Services finish early on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve while New Year’s Day sees only limited services.

Greater Manchester

Services see limitations in Manchester too so TfGM have published a useful summary guide. Bus services are limited on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day while train services pay less heed to the start of 2016 than Christmas because it is seen as an opportunity for engineering works. As you might expect, Stagecoach Manchester have a special timetable in operation from 2015-12-21 to 2016-01-01 inclusive while both Arriva and First have their service changes too. All is back to normal from the second day of 2016.


Here, First have listed what is happening with their bus services by area: Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax & Calder Valley, Leeds, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and York. Travel South Yorkshire and Metro in West Yorkshire are other good places to look since they are transport authorities and cover more than one mode of transport.

Northeast England

In the English northeast, Nexus, Go Northeast, Arriva and Stagecoach have information on what you can expect of public transport over the festive period. Of course, Nexus is the local transport authority so everything you need to know about journeys on local trains, buses and ferries should be there.

English Midlands

In the English Midlands, Arriva and D&G Bus have announced what is happening with their bus services. National Express West Midlands have done the same and Network West Midlands have more details for their region so other bus companies and modes of transport are covered. First operate buses in a number of areas and they have split things up more: Leicester, Staffordshire & North Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

Southern England

Oxford Bus Company still have some services running on both Christmas Day and New Year’s but these run to Heathrow and Gatwick airports so services otherwise are limited. Keeping with the airport theme, Stansted Citylink is operating throughout the season with only Christmas Day seeing no services at all. Both Arriva and Yellow Buses too have their seasonal service levels published for customers to check and First have done the same for their Berkshire,  Bristol, Bath & the West, Cornwall, Essex, Norfolk & Suffolk, Solent, Somerset, Southampton and Wessex operations.


In Scotland, Lothian Buses have a Christmas & New Year timetable. First have posted their details for Aberdeen, Greater Glasgow and Southeast & Central Scotland so those are worth a look if you live in their areas. Scottish Citylink have a seasonal service summary to be surveyed by those travelling further afield on their services.


Irish Citylink is keeping things like last year with only Christmas Day seeing no service at all. Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus , Northern Ireland Railways and Irish Rail all have their service summaries published online. There are some extra services in the run up to Christmas and for New Year’s Eve too so it is not all about service level reductions.

Train Services across England and Beyond

Since there is a lot of engineering work planned, National Rail have a portal showing the effect these will have on services. For instance, anyone travelling to Heathrow, Gatwick, Scunthorpe, Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber will need to take note. With regard to three of these, Transpennine Express also have details of the impact of upgrade work to the Greater Lincolnshire Railway. Likewise, East Midlands Trains has a summary showing the effects that these are having on their services. Abellio Greater Anglia have their own service changes for much the same reasons.

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Northern Rail also have a service summary and have been posting images like the above to reinforce the messages. Anyone flying into the likes of Manchester Airport will need to use taxis for onward travel unless they have someone picking them up.

Another innovation appears on the CrossCountry service summary. In addition to the usual service summary, there also is a seat availability chart and Sunday 27/12 already looks busy at the time of writing.

August Bank Holiday 2015 services in England and Wales

The Summer Bank Holiday falls on the last weekend in August for England, Wales and Northern Ireland while it falls on the first weekend in August for Scotland and Éire. This listing of alterations to public transport services is for the former since the latter has passed a few weeks back. My mind was elsewhere then due to an elongated weekend spent in Iceland.

Cardiff Bus

Apart from road closures causing a diversion for the baycar service, it will be a Sunday service for the Welsh capital city’s main operator and industrial action sadly is set to cause disruption during next Wednesday with a special timetable in operation. It is first of several such stoppages that are planned during September and October so this dispute hopefully will get sorted sooner rather than later.

Cheshire East

Most bus services observe a Sunday timetable and some such as service 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester move over to a new timetable. That gets it useful departures from Macclesfield at 08:00 and 08:55 when the first journey used to be at 10:00. One wonders why they did not introduce this earlier in the year but that is how it is.

First Cymru

Sunday service around Swansea and areas of West Wales served by First too.

First Potteries

This again mainly is a Sunday service with a two hourly frequency on service 23 to Stone with service X32 not operating from Newcastle.

First Great Western

Industrial action is going to cause disruption so it is best to check train running times before you travel. Trains operated by other companies are going to be busier so that needs to be borne in mind.

Greater Manchester

The Manchester Pride Festival Parade is a cause of some bus service diversions during Saturday and there are others continuing over the whole weekend. Stagecoach has information on their affected services. The event affects not only buses for all modes of transport share the load.

Otherwise, a bike show in St. Petersgate in Stockport is affecting other Stagecoach bus services. There is ongoing railway engineering too and that means that some trains terminate in Manchester Victoria on Sunday and Monday instead of Manchester Piccadilly as usual. Metrolink trams return to St. Peter’s Square even if they do not stop there for a few months yet.


Bus services run to a Sunday timetable with journeys commencing around 08:00.


It is a Sunday service too for Metrobus services around Surrey, Kent, East & West Sussex.

Newport Buses

Another Welsh operator observing a Sunday timetable, exclusively this time around.

Sanders Coaches

Also operating a Sunday timetable for their bus services around Norfolk.

South Yorkshire

It is mainly a Sunday timetable for bus services with Unity Coaches service 127 and Stagecoach Nightbus services not operating at all. Trams are also are observing a Sunday service apart from disruption due to engineering works. Trains are running to a normal Monday timetable, again subject to engineering works.

Tyneside and Wearside

The Metro light rail system will be working to a Saturday timetable and. most GoNorthEast buses are running to their Sunday timetables.

West Midlands

Buses and trams are running as per their Sunday timetables. Planned engineering work is set to disrupt trains that normally travel via Stafford or Stone.

West Yorkshire

Wets Yorkshire Metro have a full summary of any differences to services over the Bank Holiday weekend. Leeds Festival is on until Sunday so that has its impact. Otherwise, most bus services observe a Sunday timetables on the Bank Holiday itself. Other bus services in operation include those making up the DalesBus network along with service 10 between Leeds and Temple Newsam, service 812 between Haworth and Stanbury, service 906 between Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge and Widdop and service 951 between Huddersfield and Glossop. The extra services also run on Sunday and, of these, services 10, 906 and 951 also run on Saturday. The Elland Road park and Ride service is not working on Sunday or Monday though. Engineering work also takes its toll on train service so it is worth checking before you travel.

Yorkshire Coastliner

Again, Sunday timetables are in operation with all services in and out of Leeds are diverted via Scholes and Aberford until 16:00 and Seacroft village will not be served until then either.


It is a Sunday service for these too.

Easter and May Bank Holiday Services 2015

It has been quieter on here with bus news over the last few months. Within a period of austerity, that is not such a bad thing. However, we are now heading towards a period laden with bank holidays with the first of these due only a few weeks away. There fore, I have started to collect what has come my way about bank holiday weekend service levels and that is what you will find below.