Courtney Buses

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Courtney Buses
Courtney Coaches 6 YG52 DHJ.jpg
Optare Solo in Borough Bus livery on
route 6 in Windsor in August 2006
Parent Bill Courtney-Smith
Founded 1973
Headquarters Finchampstead
Service area Berkshire
Service type Bus services
Fleet 41 (March 2014)
Website www.courtneybuses.com

Courtney Buses[1] is a bus company based in Finchampstead, Berkshire, England. Founded in 1973 it operates a network of commercial and contracted local bus services and school buses in Berkshire, north Hampshire and small sections of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The company is known for its use of alternative fuels, having been the first bus company in the United Kingdom to operate a bus run on 100% soya oil.

History[edit]

The company was formed in 1973 as a taxi hire firm in Bracknell by Bill Courtney-Smith, who still manages the company, and moved into coach hire in the 1980s.[2] In 2000 Courtney Coaches commenced its first local route, 53 (Wexham Park Hospital - Maidenhead - Bracknell). This was taken over by First Berkshire & The Thames Valley in 2003.[3] The company expanded dramatically in January 2004 when all seven local routes in Maidenhead were taken over from First Berkshire.[2]

In September 2006 Courtney Coaches had is license revoked by the Traffic Commissioner.[4] An appeal was launched, operations continued and the decision overturned by the end of 2006.[5] Between 2005 and 2007, a park & ride service was operated between Maidenhead town centre and a temporary site at Stafferton Way. The Stafferton Way site had been used to provide replacement parking during a period in which a town centre car park was shut.[6]

In October 2007 the company introduced a unique ticketing system, ETMSS, which uses mobile computer technology to replace fare charts and reporting software with one computerised system.[7] Other features include the ability to modify fares from anywhere using the internet, GPS tracking of individual buses and reduced insurance costs as a result of this, and the ability to calculate fares, cash exchanges and refunds.[8] The cost of installation was reportedly paid back within the first 12 months.[7][8]

The routes in Maidenhead were changed significantly in early 2009. However, changes to the stopping pattern on route 6 (Maidenhead - Windsor) received criticism from some residents[9] and were further changed in April 2009.[10]

Further expansion came in January 2009, when the shuttle service between Didcot Parkway station and Milton Park was expanded from one bus to two using a new low-floor double-deck vehicle at a cost of £175,000. Over 400 passes for the service were issued to workers prior to its introduction.[11] In November 2009 a Courtney Coaches driver ejected a woman from a bus following a complaint from another passenger because of fears over swine flu.[12]

Courtney moved its depot from Bracknell to Finchampstead in late 2010.[13] The company announced a change of trading name to Courtney Buses in late 2011.[14] In November 2011 Courtney began operation of a new Christmas park & ride service in Windsor.[15] There was more expansion in early 2014, when four contracted routes in the Bracknell area were taken over by Courtney following the withdrawal of Thames Travel.[16]

Alternative fuels[edit]

Optare Solo Slimline 8.8m converted to run on vegetable oil at Bracknell bus station in June 2010

In 2002 Courtney Coaches became the first bus company in Britain to operate a bus on 100% soya oil.[17] Abingdon based company Regenatec converted an Optare Solo minibus to operate on the fuel,[18] which gained the company appearances on Working Lunch[19] and in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.[20] The cost of conversion was around £3,500.[17] Fuel savings of around 80% were reported,[21] and this cost was paid back in eight months.[19] In March 2007 Courtney director Bill Courtney-Smith and Regenatec director Mike Lawton were invited to 10 Downing Street by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to demonstrate another converted vehicle at an environmental presentation.[21] Bill Courtney-Smith later bought half shares in Regenatec when the company experienced financial trouble in early 2009.[2]

In May 2012 it was announced that as part of the government's Green Bus Fund initiative, Courtney had received funding to purchase two double-deck Hybrid electric buses.[22]

Routes[edit]

Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart in Basingstoke Centre Shuttle livery at Basingstoke Leisure Park in May 2009

Courtney Buses operates a number of local routes in the towns of Maidenhead and Bracknell; longer-distance routes take its buses to Wokingham, Windsor, Henley-on-Thames, Reading and (in the case of a demand responsive service) Marlow. The company also runs a park & ride service in Windsor and contracts to Milton Park, Maidenhead Office Park and Foundation Park, plus a contract for Sony in Basingstoke.[23]

Fleet[edit]

As at March 2014 the fleet consisted of 41 buses.[24] Since local bus service work began the predominant type in the fleet has been the Optare Solo, although other vehicles are also owned. Two notable buses delivered in 2006 were the only Alexander Dennis Enviro 300s with East Lancs Esteem bodywork,[25] which left the fleet in 2011. Two Optare Tempos powered by 100% pure plant oil, the first 12m single-deckers to run on this fuel, were ordered in 2010.[26][27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 1128598 Courtney Coaches Limited
  2. ^ a b c Courtney Buses - About Us Courtney Buses
  3. ^ News Oxford & Chiltern Bus Page April 2003
  4. ^ "Fleet News England & Wales". Buses (619): 44. October 2006. 
  5. ^ "Fleet News England & Wales". Buses (622): 50. January 2007. 
  6. ^ Maidenhead & Windsor: New Maidenhead Hines Meadow Multi-Storey Takes Over from Temporary Park and Ride maidenhead-berkshire.co.uk
  7. ^ a b ETMSS Ltd
  8. ^ a b "Courtney pioneers ticketing advance". Buses (658): 27. January 2010. 
  9. ^ Maidenhead and Windsor - Bus route 6
  10. ^ U-turn: Bus stops to be reinstated Maidenhead Advertiser, 1 April 2009
  11. ^ Bus link boosted (From Oxford Mail)
  12. ^ Cough girl is booted off bus over swine flu - The Sun
  13. ^ Gymnastics club wants new home Reading Post, 8 March 2011
  14. ^ Courtney Buses to replace Courtney Coaches Courtney Buses
  15. ^ Park and ride scheme launched for Christmas shoppers Maidenhead Advertiser, 22 November 2011
  16. ^ New bus providers to ring in the New Year Bracknell News, 29 December 2013.
  17. ^ a b Courtney Coaches - Going Green
  18. ^ Regenatec: Case Studies - Courtney Coaches
  19. ^ a b Regenatec: Media - TV - Courtney Coaches
  20. ^ Britain has low-pollution technology but it needs to be supported - Telegraph
  21. ^ a b Regenatec - Media - Visit to the Prime Minister
  22. ^ Millar, Alan (July 2013). "More GBF money allocated, new clean-up fund announced". Buses (700): 6–7. 
  23. ^ Services Courtney Buses
  24. ^ Courtney Coaches Fleet List Bus Zone 29 September 2013
  25. ^ "Fleet News England and Wales". Buses (618): 46. September 2006. 
  26. ^ Courtney orders low-carbon Tempos busandcoach.com
  27. ^ Optare - Press Releases Optare

External links[edit]