Six UK bus routes, one number, all independently owned

There are two reasons among others for this post. One is the fact this is East of the M60’s 500th post. Another, more to do with the timing of this post, is the blog’s sixth birthday. In its time it has ruffled the feathers of the odd bus enthusiast in its locality as well offered a range of historical (and sometimes hysterical) posts.

To mark this occasion, we focus on six bus routes numbered ‘500’, though each of them are not the big bus owning group’s services. They are:

  1. Bolton Metroshuttle;
  2. Wolverhampton City Centre Bus;
  3. Lodden Bridge – Reading (Park and Ride);
  4. Staines – Camberley – Frimley Hospital;
  5. Leominster – Tenbury Wells – Burford;
  6. Cleeve Park – Old Cleeve – Washford – Williton – Stogumber.

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1. Bolton Metroshuttle (Maytree Travel, approx. 3 miles):

We begin with Bolton’s Metroshuttle service. Under SELNEC and Greater Manchester Transport, Bolton had its own Centreline service between 1973 and 1975, so its Metroshuttle broke a 34 year duck on introduction in 2008. It was one of two new town centre Metroshuttle services introduced that year (the other being Stockport’s), initially under a pilot scheme. After being operated by Bluebird Bus and Coach, Maytree Travel took over with a slight change of route, modified to serve the Sainsburys store, formerly the site of Greater Manchester Transport’s 1979 Bolton Depot.

The route links the railway station with Moor Lane Bus Station in an anticlockwise loop via Bradshawgate, Knowsley Street, Deansgate and University Way. It is a free bus which operates during shopping hours (0900 – 1700) on Monday – Saturday.

2. Wolverhampton City Centre Bus (Wolverhampton City Council, approx. 1.7 miles):

Further down the M6 or the West Coast Main Line, one of Britain’s newest cities use 500 for their answer to Metroshuttle. Also an anticlockwise circular (and numbered within their own Integrated Transport Authority’s set of route numbers), it too operates on shopping hours, though offers a more modest service. Theirs is every 20 minutes on Wolverhampton’s market days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) with shorter operating hours (first on departing from Wolverhampton railway station at 094o, leaving the market at 1430).

3. Lodden Bridge – Reading (Goldline, Park and Ride Service, approx. 5 miles):

500 seems to be a popular number for shuttle services or Park and Ride schemes, as proved by this one funded by Wokingham Borough Council. This service operates every 15 minutes from Monday to Saturday and, of our sextet of 500s, operates for the benefit of its commuters as well as shoppers. The operator of this service, Goldline, is a subsidiary of municipal operator Reading Buses. Off peak and peak hour cash fares are available as are season tickets for more regular passengers.

4. Frimley Hospital – Camberley – Staines (Dickson’s Travel, approx. 18 miles):

Our fourth entry is our first non-shuttle/non-Park and Ride service of our sextet. Dickson’s Travel service is subsidised by Surrey County Council and is an interurban route taking in some woodland scenery. It is primarily a weekdays service with five journeys along the full route taking 61 minutes. Some journeys also call at the Connaught and Charters schools. The core route is between Windlesham Post Office and Sunningdale railway station with nine return journeys between these points.

The Saturday service is much reduced. Two journeys run from The Meadows to Staines Bus Station. In the reverse direction, one from Windlesham Bee to The Meadow, one from Staines Bus Station to The Meadow and a third one from Staines Bus Station up to Bagshot Square.

5. Burford – Leominster (Lugg Valley Travel, 10.1 miles):

Our previous 500 would seem like a busy city centre service compared with our fifth entry. Lugg Valley Travel’s service takes us via Tenbury Wells and St. Michael’s College along the A4112, though only once weekly. Each Friday, it departs from Burford at 1000 before arriving in Leominster by 1032, taking 32 minutes to cover 10.1 miles. Its return journey leaves Leominster at 1310, arriving at Burford by 1342. As with our previous one to Staines, times are set to better suit shoppers.

6. Cleeve Park – Old Cleeve – Washford – Williton Egremont – Stogumber (WebberBus, approx. 20 miles):

For our final 500 route of this round up, we go to a place which is home to The Bakelite Museum. Marketed as Villagelink, this service takes in a circuitous route, linking Somerset villages with Williton Egremont. The route takes 75 minutes to complete, over its 20 mile route, takes in rural North Somerset and criss crosses the West Somerset Railway. There is only one return journey, which operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Public Holidays excepted). The outward journey leaves Cleeve Park at 0900 arriving at Williton Egremont at 1015. 45 minutes later, it leaves for Crowcombe Post Office, where it arrives by 1215.

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Here’s to the next 500 posts!

All opinions of the above 500 routes gratefully received. We particularly welcome responses for anyone who have boarded the lesser known 500s detailed here.

S.V., 15 August 2012

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