JPT Takeover Given Green Light

Stagecoach acquisition cleared by Competition and Markets Authority

JPT Travel Enviro300, ST59 JPT, Ashton-under-Lyne
Gone: JPT Travel, now absorbed by Stagecoach Manchester.

JPT Travel after 40 years of operation is of today, no more. The former independent operator’s takeover was confirmed yesterday by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Since the 25 April 2014, the company founded by Janet and Peter Walsh lost its independent status. Its services prior to today were operated by Stagecoach in Manchester under JPT’s licence. For this interim period, Stagecoach’s (and former JPT) vehicles had ‘JPT service’ posters on the kerbside windows.

Yesterday, the Competition and Markets Authority passed Stagecoach’s takeover of the Middleton concern. This will come under Greater Manchester Buses South Limited’s licence. Within the space of two years, Middleton has seen its local operators taken over by the Perthshire.

In the last 40 years, their buses and minicoaches were a familiar sight from Greengate to Top o’th’Hebers. They diversified into bus operations by 1989, a move which saw them operate new commercial services and GMPTE tendered services. By 1993, Tameside and Saddleworth would feature on their radar.

Greater expansion in the 21st century would see JPT purchase state-of-the-art midibuses and a mix of young secondhand vehicles. Another offshoot, Eurobus, would see older vehicles on ‘cheap and cheerful’ services – often head-on with Stagecoach and FirstGroup.

In the last 12 months, the older buses would find their way into the main JPT fleet. There was a drop in vehicle quality and maintenance. Cheaper secondhand buys – often step-entrance Volvo Olympians – would see JPT compete with Stagecoach on the 118 service. Maintenance of its newer vehicles suffered. Ultimately, this led to the company’s downfall, continuance as a going concern and its acquisition.

It is best to remember them for the modern vehicles they had, and how they reached parts of Middleton which its rivals couldn’t reach. Today, it is hard to imagine how few buses served Alkrington Garden Village prior to the minibus era. One thing for sure, is that the Middleton bus would be nowhere near as interesting as it was a year ago, let alone ten years.

I will remember them for the fairy lights and the snow sprayed City Nippy I saw on the 131 service back in 1996. Plus the day I saw their new Plaxton Primos on the 343 service in 2009. I was en route to Stalybridge and needed to connect with a supporters’ for the ‘Bridge’s final match of the season against Workington. Farewell JPT.

JP Executive Travel (1974 – 2014).

*                      *                      *

JP Executive Travel: A Brief History

1974: Formed by Janet and Peter Walsh as a private hire coach company.

1986 – 1996: formative years of bus deregulation sees expansion into stage carriage operations.

1993: expansion of stage carriage operations into Tameside and Saddleworth areas with stylish City Nippy minibuses seen on the 354 and 419 services.

2009: greater expansion – new Plaxton Primos and Enviro200s added to fleet, most of which in a new yellow and blue livery.

2010: Janet and Peter Walsh (the ‘JP’ of JP Executive Travel) retire; son Mark takes over operations.

2011: Ellenbrook Travel acquired by sister company Eurobus. Formed as a low-cost offshoot, they would compete with First Greater Manchester on the 17 service.

2012: second depot opens on the site of Brookfield Mill, again in Middleton.

2013: JPT Travel cease operations on 17 service (January), only to re-establish them in September. Competition between Stagecoach and Bluebird Bus and Coach on 118 service.

January 2014: cessation of operations on the 17 service.

25 April 2014: JPT ceases operations as independent operator – licence retained by Stagecoach Manchester prior to…

21 August 2014: Competition and Markets Authority clears Stagecoach Manchester acquisition. All JPT services now under the Greater Manchester Buses South licence.

S.V., 22 August 2014.

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