South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach
|Service type||Bus & coach services|
South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach is a bus and coach operator operating school bus services under contract to Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council and coach services under contract to National Express.
South Gloucestershire can trace its history back to 1982 when Roger Durbin set up operations as Durbin’s Coaches. After steadily expanding over the years, in 1994 Durbin's coaches was sold to Badgerline and incorporated into their Bristol Omnibus Company subsidiary.
A non-compete clause in the contract of sale prevented Roger Durbin from operating bus servicves in the Bristol area for three years. Whilst Roger Durbin left the company, Tony Lavoie, the marketing manager stayed with the company, moving to City Line's Lawrence Hill depot as the general manager for the Durbin operations.
After a few months Lavoie left to start up his own bus company, Leisure Travel. By 1997, with a fleet of 24 vehicles, Roger Durbin joined as a partner in the business, and in 1998 the company began trading as South Gloucestershire Bus Company with a blue and white livery. Also during 1998 the pair purchased a local taxi firm which they renamed South Gloucestershire Taxi Company with a similar fleet name as the bus business. Durbin took on the bus side of the business while Lavoie looked after the running of the taxi company. During 1999 the original Durbin’s Coaches business was re acquired from First Bristol, who had continued to trade as Durbin’s Coaches and then First Durbins as a ‘low cost’ unit within First.
The company rapidly expanded over the next few years winning various tenders for supported services from Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council, at one point even operating route 620 from Bath to Stroud. During 2003 the goodwill and custom as well as the majority of the fleet of Eastville Coaches was bought from the proprietor Mr Phillips. Included were some National Express contracts. A number of vehicles were brought into to update the Eastville fleet but after 18 months the original Eastville Coaches began trading again and the SGBC Eastville Coaches fleet were painted plain white with ‘A Durbin Group Company’ tagline.
Also during 2003 the taxi operation was separated from the bus operation, which saw Lavoie leave the business.
The company continued to expand, picking up contracts with the University of the West of England for student transport, Axa and Orange for staff shuttles, Wessex Trains rail replacement, further National Express contracts and further tenders from Bristol City and South Gloucestershire Councils.
The fleet mainly consisted of second hand vehicles such as Leyland Lynx and Leyland Titans, and Volvo B10Ms for the coach fleet. There were two Dennis Dart SLFs that were new to Durbin in 2003 for Orange and UWE work. In 2007 South Gloucestershire was named the most un-environmentally-friendly bus operator in the country.
Sale of bus operation to Rotala
In June 2007 the bus side of the company was sold to Rotala Group subsidiary Flights Hallmark. The sale included 68 buses and was completed in stages until 31 March 2008, this being dictated by Bristol City and South Gloucestershire Councils needing to approve the transfer of the routes.
The business was slowly rebranded as Wessex Connect, however the majority of the vehicles that Rotala purchased stayed in South Gloucestershire livery. They were gradually disposed of as Rotala were able to replace them. Most of the low floor vehicles from the SGBC fleet were painted white and ended up with Rotala group company Central Connect.
After the sale to Rotala, SGBC were left with school services, the route 462 commuter service and the Axa 101 service, that both interworked with school services. The fleet has been continually updated since the sale in 2007 with more modern coaches and further second hand buses. All coaches are now white with a new South Gloucestershire fleet name in silver, and school vehicles are gradually being painted into an all over yellow scheme inspired by the purchase of a former Plymouth Citybus school vehicle. The blue livery is no longer a familiar site on the streets of Bristol, as now a large proportion of the bus fleet carry the overall yellow livery.
In March 2007, South Gloucestershire began operating three weekend journeys on National Express route 040 between Bristol and London Victoria Coach Station, due to increased passenger numbers on this route. In the months leading up to this, the company was providing regular duplicate coaches on route 040 and also other routes such as the 403 from Bath to London and on cross country services from South West England.
In December 2007, South Gloucestershire were awarded the contract for the seasonal route 319 Bristol to Birmingham service, it was introduced to meet demand over the festive period until January 2008. In March 2008, several more additional weekend journeys were added to route 040 and these were once again awarded to South Gloucestershire.
In September 2008 South Gloucestershire were awarded their first full-time National Express contract operating route 200 Bristol to Gatwick Airport. For this, a number of tri-axle levante bodied coaches were acquired.
From January 2010, South Gloucestershire began to operate the 040 on a full-time basis after taking over the journeys previously operated by First. The majoirity of journeys on this route are worked by tri-axle levante bodied coaches although some journeys are worked by a standard 48/49 seater coach. At the time the contract was awarded, the tri-axle levantes that the company were using on the 200 route were swapped to the 040 along with several other levantes which were required from one of National Express's own operating depots.
From August 2010, the company took over operation of the 402 service from Frome to London and the 403 services from Radstock/Bath to London. This resulted in the acquisition of a number of new caetano levante bodied coaches to work the routes although these did not arrive until October 2010 resulting in the company's non-national express coaches appearing regularly on the 200 Bristol-Gatwick service(due to the fact that this route does not serve central London meaning it does not require an LEZ compliant vehicle).
In May 2011 the Friday and Sunday only service 318 between Bristol and Birmingham was awarded following a contract renewal which saw the route taken on from Applegates Coaches. The company had previously covered this service for Applegates on at least one occasion(July 2009). In August 2011 following the collapse of Hookways of Meeth, South Gloucestershire provided cover on routes 339 from Westward Ho! to Grimsby and 502 from Westward Ho to London and eventually took these routes over on a permanent basis during October 2011. Previously, the company has contributed to route 339 by providing breakdown cover and by providing duplicate coaches at busy periods.
In January 2012 South Gloucestershire began operating a contract for route 444 from Gloucester to London. This was previously operated by Stagecoach West's Gloucester depot. SGBC had previously contributed to this route by providing breakdown cover and by providing duplicate coaches at busy periods. In January 2013 operation of route 444 was largely transferred to Bennetts Coaches (although SGBC continued to work some journeys) with SGBC gaining additional journeys on service 403 which were added to the timetable at this point. SGBC stopped operating route 444 entirely during summer 2013.
Also in January 2013, SGBC gained a further National Express contract for route 330 between Penzance and Nottingham after the previous operator, Premiere Travel, went into administration. SGBC had previously contributed to the 330 by providing cover for the regular operator and by providing duplicate coaches at busy periods.
Route 318 was initially reduced to operating on Sundays only from the start of the new National Express timetable commencing on 13 May 2013, with the Friday service not operating after 10 May. However by 24 May the Friday service on the route had been reinstated. It was however withdrawn again after 11 October 2013 meaning that the route now operates on Sundays only.
During Summer 2013, the company gained further services. These included the former Yourbus Durham operated diagram on route 040 meaning that other than 4 Friday/Sunday only diagrams which are operated by Chalfont Coaches, SGBC are currently the sole operator on the route. Also during summer 2013, the following new services were introduced, a seasonal 317 service which operates one daily departure between Bristol and Lymington,route 401 which runs between Street, Bath and London, and a service between London and Leeds Castle. All of these journeys have now been withdrawn as of September 2013.
During September 2013, the company gained a diagram on service 509 between Cardiff and London which had previously been operated directly in-house by National Express.SGBC have previously contributed to the 509 by providing either duplicate coaches or cover for other operators.
During November 2013, the company took over operation of service 302 between Bristol and Northampton from MK Metro. The company has previously contributed to this route by means of directly covering the service themseleves or by loaning coaches to MK Metro
South Gloucestershire have a varied fleet of National Express coaches that includes:
- 8 DAF SB4000/Van Hool Alizee 3 as spare in all over white
- 9 Scania K340/Caetano Levante
- 20 Volvo B9R/Caetano Levante
- 2 Scania K114/Van Hool Alizee 1 as spare in all over white
- 1 Volvo B12B/Plaxton Panther
- 040 from Bristol to London
- 200 from Bristol to Gatwick Airport via Reading and Heathrow Airport
- 302 from Bristol to Northampton via Bath Spa, Swindon and Oxford
- 318 from Bristol to Birmingham via Gloucester and Cheltenham Spa
- 330 from Penzance to Nottingham
- 339 from Westward Ho! to Grimsby
- 402 from Frome to London via Trowbridge, Newbury & Heathrow Airport
- 403 from Bath to London via Swindon & Heathrow Airport
- 444 from Gloucester to London via Cheltenham & Stroud
- 502 from Barnstaple to London
- 509 from Cardiff to London via Newport
South Gloucestershire's only scheduled bus services are routes 462 and 462A, which run at peak hour times from Emersons Green, Mangotsfield and Bromley Heath to either Bristol Temple Meads railway station or Clifton via Bristol city centre. Service 462A operates on school days only and comprises one single journey from Temple Meads to Emersons Green via Downend. Prior to April 2011 a morning journey from Downend to Temple Meads operated on this route.
Additionally, route 680 runs during term time from Frampton Cotterell to Filton via North and South Yate, Coalpit Heath and University of the West England is also available for use by the general public although the service only operates during term time.
South Gloucestershire was the official provider of transport for the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and operated two routes each year. Buses ran from Bristol Temple Meads railway station to the Fiesta Site every 10 minutes from around 09:00 until 23:00 across four days. A second service operates hourly from Clifton Down to the Fiesta site. However in 2013 this contract was taken over by First Bristol.
- Companies House extract company no 6345684 SGBC Limited
- Bristol Omnibus takeover Durbins Coaches. (Retrieved 27 March 2012)
- Oxford bus fleet greenest in UK Oxford Mail 17 October 2007
- History Rotala
- About Wessex Rotala
- Rotala buys in the West Midlands & South West Transit 29 June 2007 page 7
- South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach expands fleet Lombard
- National Express South Gloucestrershire Bus & Coach
- National Express Coach Handbook - 8th Edition. British Bus Publishing. 2012. ISBN 978-1-904875-78-9.
- Emersons Green - Temple Meads South Gloucestershire Council 18 April 2011
- Frampton Cotterell - Filton South Gloucestershire Council 5 September 2011
- Baloon Fiesta 1 Bristol Baloon Fiesta
- Baloon Fiesta 2 Bristol Baloon Fiesta
- Travel to the Fiesta Bristol Baloon Fiesta
- South Gloucestershire Bus official website
- Photos of the fleet, past and present
- South Gloucestershire Bus official fleetlist