|Predecessor(s)||Greater Manchester Transport|
GM Buses North, GM Buses SouthAfter 1996:
First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester
|Defunct||1994(Split into North and South)
1996(North and South companies sold)
|Parent||Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (until 1994)|
GM Buses was the main bus company serving the ten metropolitan districts of Greater Manchester, a metropolitan county in North West England. The company was public owned by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, which is a public body responsible for co-ordinating public transport services in the Greater Manchester area. The company was split in 1992 into GM Buses North and GM Buses South in order to increase competition for services in the area, before they were taken over by First Group and Stagecoach Group respectively.
Original GM Buses
See here for a timeline overview of transport in Manchester.
In 1968, a new Transport Act was introduced. As part of the new act, several bus companies run by local authorities around the Manchester area would merge to create a central organisation. They would be made up of companies operating in the following areas:
- Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield (Operated by the SHMD Joint Board)
The new central organisation was named SELNEC, which was the South East Lancashire North East Cheshire Passenger Transport Executive. The SELNEC catchment area would eventually become Greater Manchester. SELNEC introduced a standard livery of orange and white with the company split into three zones, Northern, Central and Southern.
In 1974, The Local Government Act changed the administrative areas and the county of Greater Manchester was created. As a result, SELNEC would rename itself to Greater Manchester Transport. In 1981, a new livery was adopted of orange, brown and white. Also in the same year, Lancashire United Transport, based in Atherton, was absorbed into Greater Manchester Transport.
In 1986, deregulation was introduced to bus services and Greater Manchester Transport was split into two. The management of service information and tendering, bus stations and stops would be run by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, or GMPTE for short. The bus operation would be named Greater Manchester Buses or GM Buses as it is commonly known. Deregulation also saw competition introduced on several routes run by GM Buses.
The competing companies included Bee Line Buzz Company, which ran several services along routes across the Greater Manchester area; Wall's and Finglands, which introduced several services along the Wilmslow Road corridor; and Bluebird Bus & Coach and Citibus, which launched several routes in the North Manchester area. A lot of the companies that tried to compete with GM Buses failed, with most going out of business and some being taken over by GM Buses. Some companies that did succeed included Bluebird, who run several services between Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester, and Mayne's, who operated until 2006.
On December 31, 1993, GM Buses were forced to split, as the Government felt that they had a monopoly of bus services in the Greater Manchester area and wanted to increase competition. GM Buses was split into two separate companies, GM Buses North, or GMN, and GM South Buses, or GMS Buses. It had been hoped by splitting the companies up, then GM Buses North and GM South Buses would compete against each other. However, as their names would suggest, the two companies would mainly stay in their respective operating areas.
Prior to the formation of the North/South GM Buses companies Merseyside's dominant bus company MTL Trust Holdings Ltd was in a phase of expansion and turned its attention to Greater Manchester. In the summer of 1993 MTL Manchester began operations from a depot in Miles Platting and added an extensive network of new/copycat services to Manchester's already hotly contested bus market. In October 1993 the Merseybus depot at St Helens was rebranded Lancashire Travel and a further series of new/copycat services were introduced in the Wigan, Leigh, Bolton, Salford and North Manchester areas that Merseybus/MTL had been gradually increasing its profile in since the late 1980s. Finally around 1993/94 MTL purchased Bolton Coachways and used their fairly substantial minibus network to perhaps further strengthen their position in the town against GM Buses (North).
MTL's incursions into Greater Manchester sparked a bus war with GM Buses and predictably they retaliated with new services on Merseyside. At first route 79 (Croxteth-Liverpool City Centre) - one of Merseybus's most profitable routes, saw high frequency GM Buses operation from September 1993 perhaps as a means to discourage further MTL expansion in Greater Manchester. In the Spring of 1994 GM Buses South began Birkenhead & District from a depot at Cleveland Street in Birkenhead's docklands. The vehicles used a light blue and cream livery that had slight echoes to a darker blue version used by Birkenhead Corporation and many of MTL's profitable services on the Wirral saw competition from Birkenhead & District. GM Buses North almost besieged by MTL's Lancashire Travel operation began further operations in Liverpool, Kirkby, Formby and Southport and also opened a new depot this time in Bootle to assist its Atherton and Wigan depots in the operation of these new services on Merseyside. Furthermore some Greater Manchester PTE "standard" Leyland Atlanteans and Fleetlines originally sold by GM Buses to Yorkshire Rider in 1987/88 were re-acquired by GM Buses North for use at the new depot at Bootle.
However by the summer of 1995 both MTL and GM Buses North/South were making substantial losses with their incursions into Greater Manchester and Merseyside. A controversial gentleman's agreement was therefore signed between the three companies in June 1995 which saw MTL pull out of much of Greater Manchester - with the exception of services linking St Helens with Leigh and Wigan, along with GM Buses North/South completely withdrawing from Merseyside including the long established GM Buses North Services 34 (Liverpool-St Helens-Leigh-Manchester) and 320 (Liverpool-St Helens-Wigan) which had existed for decades and had origins with the Lancashire United operation.
During 1996, both GM Buses companies would be the subject of takeovers. GM Buses North were taken over by First Group. They would rename the company as Greater Manchester Firstbus, or as Greater Manchester followed by the First logo, and the livery of orange would be re-painted as 'Tomato Soup Red', as it was described. By 1997 they would be renamed as First Greater Manchester and adopted the standard First Group livery. GM South Buses were taken over by Stagecoach Group and the company was renamed Stagecoach Manchester.
New GM Buses
|Former type||Bus (Trading Name of UK North Buses)|
|Fate||Banned from Roads By North West Traffic Commissioner
|Successor(s)||N/A (Some vehicles sold on to various companies)|
|Founded||2005 (joint operation with UK North)|
|Parent||Part of UK North Bus Company|
In early 2005, the GM Buses name reappeared on the side of buses in Greater Manchester when UK North decided to rename some of their bus services as GM Buses, including the 192 service between Hazel Grove or Stepping Hill and Manchester. They used a logo previously used by GM Buses in the late 1980s and early 1990s and a picture indicating the depot that the bus is operating from. However, they did not adopt the orange livery, keeping UK North's red and white livery instead.
However, this was to be short lived as in December 2006, UK North and GM Buses services were suspended during the Christmas period, due to safety fears after several buses were involved in accidents a man was killed in an incident involving a UK North bus. The North West Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell, launched an investigation into the company and found that 100 of its 130 drivers were Polish, had a poor understanding of English and felt that they weren't properly trained. It had been planned for the company to return to the street in January 2007 but the company went into receivership before this could happen.
- GM Buses Group - History Information
- GMT Beyond
- "Bus companies banned from roads". BBC News. 2006-12-23.
- GM Buses archive website
- Greater Manchester's Museum of Transport
- GM Buses (Greater Manchester's Museum of Transport)