Arriva Southern Counties

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Arriva Southern Counties
New Arriva bus in Chatham Bus Interchange (2) - - 2771819.jpg
Arriva Medway Towns Wright StreetLite at Chatham Waterfront bus station in January 2012
ParentArriva UK Bus
FoundedNovember 1986; 33 years ago (1986-11)
Service areaEast Sussex
Hemel Hempstead
West Sussex
Service typeBus services
HubsChatham, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells
OperatorArriva Guildford & West Surrey
Arriva Kent & Sussex
Arriva Kent Thameside
Arriva Medway Towns
Arriva Southend
Arriva Colchester

Arriva Southern Counties[1] is a bus operator in Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hemel Hempstead, and Watford in England. It is a subsidiary of Arriva UK Bus.


Arriva Kent & Sussex Northern Counties Palatine bodied Volvo Olympian in Royal Tunbridge Wells in April 2009. This bus is currently in preservation in Kent.

In November 1986 the National Bus Company sold Maidstone & District in a management buyout to Einkorn Limited.[1] In June 1988 New Enterprise Coaches of Tonbridge was purchased, followed in December 1991 by four buses and their associated Kent County Council services from Shearings,[2] and in June 1992 Boro'line Maidstone.[3][4][5]

In 1990 British Bus purchased the Cranleigh, Guildford and Woking based operations of Alder Valley followed in 1993 by Colchester Borough Transport and Southend Transport.[5]

In April 1995 Einkorn was sold to British Bus,[6] which had purchased Kentish Bus in July 1994 and Londonlinks in 1988. In August 1995 Einkorn was renamed Invictaway.[1] Invictaway was previously the name of the Maidstone & District commuter services to London, which were renamed Green Line at the same time.[5]

In July 1996 British Bus was taken over by the Cowie Group.[7][8] Invictaway was renamed Arriva Southern Counties in April 1998,[1] and Arriva transferred London & Country (also owned by British Bus) to it. The subsidiary operating companies therefore became:

  • Maidstone & District:
    • Mainly became Arriva Kent & Sussex
    • Medway area became Arriva Medway Towns
  • Kentish Bus:
    • Mainly became Arriva Kent Thameside
    • Partly became Arriva Kent & Sussex
  • London & Country:
    • Became Arriva Guildford & West Surrey
  • LondonLinks:
    • Became Arriva Croydon & North Surrey

Current operations in the South East area are:

Many reorganisations of Arriva operations in South East England have followed since and today the company also controls Arriva Guildford & West Surrey, Arriva West Sussex, and Arriva Southend. The Croydon & North Surrey subsidiary was largely transferred to Arriva London.

In 2001, the Crawley depot and operations were sold to Metrobus and the depot in Merstham was closed.[14]

In August 2004 Arriva Colchester was sold to Tellings-Golden Miller, although with the December 2007 sale of Tellings-Golden Miller, Colchester is once again owned by Arriva, albeit not under the control of Arriva Southern Counties.[15][16] In October 2009 the Horsham depot and routes were sold to Metrobus with 19 buses.[17]

The coach subsidiary, New Enterprise Coaches of Tonbridge, inherited from Maidstone & District continues to trade under its own brand.[18]

In March 2015, Network Colchester and Network Harlow operations were taken over from Tellings-Golden Miller, who at the time was an Arriva subsidiary. Both operation companies were rebranded Arriva Colchester and Arriva Harlow respectively.

The Medway Towns network was upgraded in a £10 million investment marketed as Operation Overdrive.


Rural routes[edit]

Arriva Southern Counties operate interurban bus routes in West Kent which link Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells with the surrounding villages. One such route is the 6 which is run by the Tunbridge Wells garage using Double Decker Volvo B7TL buses from 2001. These buses started their life in London. There is also the 7. This is run by two bus garages, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. Anything in the Arriva Kent fleet can appear but Maidstone usually provides more Modern vehicles with Tunbridge Wells using older buses. There are some more rural Interurban routes such as the 5 linking Maidstone and Hawkhurst. The route used to go all the way to Hastings but nowadays you must change at Hawkhurst onto a Stagecoach bus to head to Hastings. There is also the 12 going from Maidstone to Tenterden. Arriva used to run the 'Weald Shopper routes' which were a collection of shopper buses which ran mainly once a week. The 299 was one route which went from Tenterden to Maidstone. Another route was the 293, the most interesting Shopper route which ran from Tunbridge Wells to Rye. Rye was the furthest south Arriva went. New Enterprise Coaches (a subsidy of Arriva) ran these routes with Arriva branded buses, but towards the end of the 293 by Arriva many buses from Tunbridge Wells garage were used. The Weald shopper routes are now run by Autocar.

Park & Ride[edit]

Arriva also operates Maidstone park & ride under contract to Maidstone Borough Council.[19] The buses were painted yellow with a green stripe swooping down from the top of the back of the bus to the bottom of the front. The fleet comprised two Wright Cadet bodied DAF SB120s and nine Wright Commander bodied DAF SB200s. In September 2007 the Coombe Quarry Park & Ride site (route 504) was closed due to apparent budget difficulties. As a result, some of the buses were absorbed into the main fleet. Around 2014, the Maidstone Park and ride was upgraded with the Wright Commander buses getting new seats, wifi and a new grey livery. Then, in 2016 the Sittingbourne Road Park & Ride site was closed and the PVR for the Maidstone park and ride was 4. Then in 2018, the Park and ride was in grave danger. It was struggiling and a meeting was held to decide what should happen to it. Some people believed to close the Park and ride, turn the car parks into ordinary car parks and hope a commercial bus service would run. However, the park and ride was given funding to carry on for a year. There were 2 routes, a 501 and 503 which interworked and ran to the two sites. A year later and the park and ride was in trouble again. Thankfully Arriva saved the Park and ride from the axe and a 6 year contract began. 2 year old Enviro 200mmcs came in and provided the Service with Leather seats, Free Wifi and USB charging in a green livery. The Wright Commanders were put into Arriva';s normal fleet. The service was renumbered PR and it runs from London Road Park and Ride site to Willington Street Park and Ride site. Further improvements came when from December 5th to December 23rd buses ran until 9.30pm and a Sunday service was provided for the first time. This was for Christmas Shoppers. Buses were very busy. The final improvement came when a new Park and Ride service began. The H1 which runs from Maidstone Hospital to London Road Park and Ride site. Travel is free for NHS workers.

Arriva Sapphire[edit]

Arriva also operates three Sapphire routes in Kent, The buses serve route 700 from Bluewater to Chatham, 101 from Gillingham to Maidstone via Chatham[20][21] and routes 480 and 490 from Valley Drive to Dartford.[22][23] The fleet comprises Alexander Dennis Enviro400s[20], Wright StreetLites and Enviro 400mmc as well as 200mmcs for the 700. The buses were painted in a two tone blue livery. The 101 buses from 2014/2015 are still painted in the livery but the 480/490 and 700 buses are painted in the newer Arriva Sapphire livery. Arriva brought new Wright Streetlites for the 480/490 in 2019 which replaced the older Streetlites which moved to Guildford. They then moved elsewhere. The 700 was made Sapphire status in 2017 with 3 enviro 200mmcs and 3 enviro 400mmcs from Gillingham Depot. Often however, the Sapphire buses end up on non-sapphire routes and non-Sapphire buses end up on either the 101 or 700. The 700 runs along the A2 for about 10-15 mins as well. An upgrade to Sapphire was due for the 6 and 7 routes back in 2014/2015 yet it never happened.There was meant to be new buses for the 101 in 2020 ( but Wrightbus's collapse and the Coronavirus means no-one is sure what happened to the 101's new buses order. It was likely cancelled.


Fastrack liveried Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo B7RLE at Dartford in March 2008

Arriva Southern Counties operate the Fastrack busway scheme in the Thames Gateway area of Kent on behalf of the Kent County Council and Prologis. This network currently consists of two routes: Route A runs between Dartford and the Bluewater Shopping Centre, while Route B runs from Temple Hill to Gravesend via Dartford. Since November 2007, Route B has connected with the Eurostar at Ebbsfleet International railway station, and Eurostar passengers are allowed to use the route for free. On 11 February 2008, Arriva started a new "m-tickets" scheme, where passengers are able to pay for bus tickets using their mobile phones.[24] The route was ran with Volvo B7TL single deckers until 2015 when new Wright Streetlites were ordered. The contract for Fastrack came up again in 2019 and Stagecoach London was rumoured to take it over but they never did, Arriva won the contract and run newer Enviro 200mmcs.


Arriva Kent & Sussex Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart SLF in Royal Tunbridge Wells in April 2009

The main corporate Arriva livery is aquamarine for the body, with a cream "swoop" at the front and a white separator line in between, blue Arriva "circles" logos, and a thin yellow line at skirt level. There are many variations of the livery, such as:

  • Interurban livery – Aquamarine, with dark blue band to skirt level and cream "cow-horns" (a thinned version of the champagne "swoop").
  • London livery - The original London livery was red, with champagne "cow-horns" as in the interurban livery, orange Arriva "circles" logo and a thin yellow line at skirt level. The new London livery is completely red, with the thin yellow line at skirt level and the Arriva "circles" in plain white.
  • Bluewater livery - No longer used, the Bluewater livery was all over blue, with a water shimmer effect. The services using this livery were replaced by Fastrack in 2006.

As well as this, many vehicles operating under different schemes run in different liveries, for example Fastrack and Maidstone Park & Ride.


Arriva Kent & Sussex Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL in Tunbridge Wells in April 2009
Arriva Medway Towns Northern Counties Palatine bodied Volvo Citybus in the schoolbus livery in Cliffe in August 2009
Arriva Guildford & West Surrey Transport for London liveried Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 in Dorking in July 2009

The locations of Arriva Southern Counties' depots and the divisions which operate them are:

Former depots of Arriva Southern Counties were:

  • Cranleigh - Arriva Guildford & West Surrey (outstation of Guildford) (closed 2011)
  • Dartford - Arriva Kent Thameside[27] transferred to Arriva London January 2016[29][30]
  • Gatwick (Copthorne) - easyBus (New Enterprise Coaches) (closed 5 December 2009)
  • Grays - Arriva Southend[28] transferred to Arriva London January 2016[29][30]
  • Hawkhurst - Arriva Kent & Sussex (closed 17 February 2008)
  • Horsham - Arriva Guildford & West Surrey (closed 2 October 2009, operations sold to Metrobus)[17]
  • Sittingbourne - Arriva Medway Towns (closed 2 July 2006)
  • Tenterden - Arriva Kent & Sussex (closed 9 May 2009, following loss of contracts for routes operated)

Dartford and Grays garages were the only Arriva Southern Counties depots which did not have commercial services and only handled services operated under contract to Transport for London with all buses painted in red Arriva livery.

Commercial routes previously operated from Dartford depot before it became an all Transport for London depot were transferred to Northfleet. Grays depot switched to all Transport for London services after Arriva Southend withdrew both commercial routes 373 and 383 in the Grays area, partially replacing them by extending route 5 from Southend-on-Sea. Routes 44 and 150, the remaining services in the Grays area, are operated under contract to Thurrock Council. The buses used for these routes were transferred to Southend.

As at September 2014, Dartford garage operated London routes 160, 428, 492, B12, B13 and B15.[31] Grays garage operated London routes 66, 346, 370, 375 and 499.[32]

As part of a decision to consolidate all of Arriva's Transport for London routes, Dartford and Grays garages transferred to Arriva London on 1 January 2016.[29][30]


As at December 2013 the fleet consisted of 900 buses and coaches.[citation needed] As at September 2014, 113 buses were dedicated to the Transport for London services.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d Companies House extract company no 2031405 Archived 3 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Southern Counties Limited formerly Invictaway Limited formerly Einkorn Limited
  2. ^ Shearings bus sale continues Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Commercial Motor 3 January 1992
  3. ^ The supply of bus services in Mid and West Kent Archived 4 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine Monopolies & Mergers Commission August 1993
  4. ^ Maidstone & District Motor Services Archived 7 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine M Dek Bus Club
  5. ^ a b c History - South East Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine Arriva
  6. ^ Competition Commission report (1997) Archived 19 January 2012 at the UK Government Web Archive Competition Commission
  7. ^ Cowie Group plc and British Bus Group Limited: A report on the merger situation Competition Commission 31 October 1996
  8. ^ Midland Red History: Timeline Menu Archived 3 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Companies House extract company no 2536462 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Guildford & West Surrey Limited formerly Guildford & West Surrey Buses Limited
  10. ^ Companies House extract company no 114841 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Kent & Surrey Limited formerly Arriva Kent & Sussex Limited formerly The Maidstone & District Motor Services Limited
  11. ^ Companies House extract company no 2005266 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Kent Thameside Limited formerly Kentish Bus & Coach Limited formerly London Country Bus (South East) Limited
  12. ^ Companies House extract company no 3943257 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Medway Towns Limited
  13. ^ Companies House extract company no 1992873 Archived 13 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine Arriva Southend Limited formerly Southend Transport Limited
  14. ^ 2017 Arriva Bus Handbook. British Bus Publishing Ltd. 2017. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-912063-07-9.
  15. ^ Arriva to acquire Tellings Archived 18 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 20 December 2007
  16. ^ Arriva plc offer for TGM Group plc Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Arriva 20 December 2007
  17. ^ a b Go-Ahead to acquire Arriva's Horsham Bus Archived 8 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 3 September 2009
  18. ^ Welcome to New Enterprise Coaches Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine New Enterprise Coaches
  19. ^ Maidstone Quality Bus Partnership Archived 9 September 2013 at Kent County Council
  20. ^ a b Peat, Chris (10 September 2014). "Arriva launches premium Sapphire service on 101". Bus&Coachbuyer. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Arriva Sapphire - 101 Timetable". Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  22. ^ Matthews, Alex (3 October 2014). "Arriva invest more than £2 million on 490 and 480 buses running in Gravesend and Dartford". KentOnline. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Arriva Sapphire - 480/490 Timetable". Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Arriva Mobile ticketing: m-tickets". Archived from the original on 26 June 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  25. ^ a b Operator summary for licence PK0003562 Archived 10 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine Vehicles & Operator Services Agency
  26. ^ a b c d Operator summary for licence PK0000208 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Vehicles & Operator Services Agency
  27. ^ a b Operator summary for licence PK0001285 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Vehicles & Operator Services Agency
  28. ^ a b Operator summary for licence PF0000093 Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Vehicles & Operator Services Agency
  29. ^ a b c Arriva London adds four more garages Arriva London
  30. ^ a b c "Arriva London" Buses Magazine Issue 731 February 2016 page 66
  31. ^ Carr, Ken (September 2014). The London Bus Guide (4 ed.). Boreham: Visions International Entertainment. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-9570058-6-0.
  32. ^ Carr, Ken (September 2014). The London Bus Guide (4 ed.). Boreham: Visions International Entertainment. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-9570058-6-0.
  33. ^ Carr, Ken (September 2014). The London Bus Guide (4 ed.). Boreham: Visions International Entertainment. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-9570058-6-0.

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