|Slogan||making warrington move|
|Parent||Warrington Borough Council|
|Founded||Warrington Corporation Tramways in 1902
Warrington Corporation Transport Department in 1935
Warrington Borough Council Transport Department in 1972
Warrington Borough Transport in 1986
|Service area||Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside|
|Service type||Bus services|
|Destinations||Warrington Borough, Altrincham, Earlestown, Leigh, Northwich|
|Fleet||105 (Jan 2015)|
|Chief executive||Damian Graham|
Network Warrington is a Municipal bus company, running a network of services within the Borough of Warrington, England and into the surrounding area, including Altrincham, Leigh, Earlestown and Northwich. It is owned by Warrington Borough Council.
Warrington Corporation Tramways started operating a network of five radial tramways from the town centre in 1902, with the first motor bus service starting in 1913. Buses replaced trams on routes starting in 1931, with the infrastructure starting to require major renewal which could not be justified economically. The last tram operated in 1935.
Services expanded rapidly after the Second World War as new housing estates grew in areas such as Orford and Great Sankey. The conversion of bus routes with conductors into one-man operated services began in 1965.
Warrington was designated as a new town in 1968, which led to new housing estates planned in the Birchwood and Westbrook areas of town. As such, Warrington Borough Council Transport Department (as the transport department was then called) started operating new services to these new developments as they started to grow in the 1970s and beyond. The department also began operating new services jointly with Crosville upon the split of the old Stockport based North Western Road Car Company in 1972.
To comply with the Transport Act 1985, Warrington Borough Transport was incorporated in 1986. The company's mission was that if money could be made by operating services deemed uneconomic by other operators, then it should assume operation. This policy led to an increase in services operated as other bus companies who ran into the area decided to concentrate on their own core areas.
Competition from other operators flared up in 1995, with the new North Western company (trading as Warrington Goldlines) duplicating the vast majority of the existing bus network with their own services, taking over from another new competitor MTL (trading as Lancashire Travel) when they decided to stop competing after a few months. In retaliation, WBT began operating new services in competition with North Western, to places such as Wigan, St Helens, Widnes, Runcorn, Chester and Liverpool, even starting a local minibus service in Northwich. After 18 months of intense competition, both companies agreed a truce. WBT kept routes to Prescot and St Helens, whilst giving up operations to the Birchwood area of town in favour of North Western, who later rebranded as Arriva North West.
In February 2002, Arriva decided to close its depot in Warrington and transfer interurban routes to depots in neighbouring towns. WBT resumed operation of town routes to Birchwood, Cinnamon Brow and Woolston, but transferred the St Helens route back to Arriva. Further withdrawals by Arriva led to the takeover of routes to Leigh in 2005 and Altrincham in 2006. The latest new route (17) for the company began in July 2008 to serve the new Chapelford Urban Village housing development, with initial funding provided by the developers. This was extended in 2012 and route-branded in 2013 as "Connect17" to link residential areas with employment areas across the north of the town.
Throughout the mid-late 2000s, Warrington Borough Transport made several cuts to their longer distance services in preparation for their eventual rebrand into Network Warrington. For example, in the summer of 2006 the 43 and 44 services to Northwich, via Acton Bridge and Little Legh respectively, were scrapped. This was later followed by the 47 service to Northwich via Knutsford and High Legh, which was first shortened to Lower Peover and then stopped completely in November of the same year (Network Warrington would later reinstate the High Legh - Warrigton section of this route at a reduced frequency of four services per week). However this did lead to a streamlining of other routes, both long distance and in the town centre, which now had increased frequencies. The remaining 45 and 46 routes to Northwich were increased to a 2 hourly frequency each during the day, with slight re-routing to shorten journey times. In 2015, as part of a timetable get dispute with a rival company, Network Warrington would cease to run a 45 service; increasing the 46 frequency to hourly and making it the only surviving route of their original 5 Northwich - Warrington services  (Slight route changes did take place so as Antrobus, Wincham and Lostock could still be served).
Budget cuts by Warrington Borough Council have resulted in the network of Sunday evening services operated by Warrington Borough Transport being completely withdrawn from 27 June 2010, as these socially necessary services no longer receive any subsidy from the council. The company continues to operate a service during daytime shopping hours on a commercial basis.
There are no year-round night bus services operated, although the company has in the past operated a seasonal night bus network centred on Warrington town centre over the Christmas and New Year period. The services ran between 2004 and 2008 with the support of Warrington Borough Council, several parish councils, town centre licensees and Cheshire Police, but sufficient funding was not forthcoming for 2009 due to a decline in passenger numbers the previous year. At its peak six separate services were operated serving most suburbs as well as Birchwood and Burtonwood.
Park & ride services
There are currently no park and ride services, although from 2005 to 2012 Network Warrington operated a seasonal Saturdays-only scheme to Warrington town centre to cater for Christmas shopping, under a contract from the Borough Council. This began in 2005 with a single service from the Northwest Regional Development Agency offices at Centre Park business park, but was expanded in 2007 to operate from two separate sites: car parking available at the Warrington Collegiate campus to the north of the town centre, and at the Bruntwood Wilderspool Park business park to the south (next to Morrisons), both locations just off the A49.
As a condition of planning consent for the B&Q superstore next to the M62 at Winwick, a section of the car park was designated as Park & Ride albeit using the existing bus services and fares provided by Warrington Borough Transport and Arriva. There were up to seven buses an hour during Monday to Saturday daytimes provided by the two operators, however the success of this scheme was questionable due to the lack of a dedicated express bus service to the town centre, tickets which were not interchangeable between the two operators, and a lack of publicity for the facility. B&Q withdrew from the scheme in 2006, claiming that the facility was being abused.
Network Warrington operate a variety of works and contract services. Work services generally operate in conjunction with large employers or business parks, operate at peak times for pass-holding employees, and are not available to the general public. Services operated include:
- Birchwood Park shuttle: Birchwood railway station – Birchwood Park business park
- O2 works service: Warrington – O2 call centre (Preston Brook)
- Olympic Park shuttle: Birchwood railway station – Olympic Park business park (Longbarn)
- United Utilities works service: Warrington – United Utilities offices (Dawson House and Lingley Mere)
There are also a number of routes which operate in conjunction with special events, and thus only operate on certain days of the year. Some routes are free, others have a flat fare, whilst a few require pre-booking. Recent shuttle services operated include:
- Creamfields: Warrington / Manchester – Creamfields (Daresbury)
- Warrington Disability Awareness Day: Warrington – Disability Awareness Day (Walton Gardens)
Network Warrington offer a selection of tickets that can be bought with cash from the driver: change is available, but customers are asked to provide the exact fare if possible. Single journey tickets vary in price depending on the length of journey, as do day return tickets which allow a return journey to be made on the same day. Neither of these ticket types allow a transfer to another route, but there is a special add-on "thrufare" for journeys to Warrington Hospital. Family Day Return tickets exist for groups of up to four people travelling together, as long as one person is aged under sixteen. Day Rover tickets allow one day's unlimited travel on Network Warrington services.
Free concessionary travel is available to senior citizens and the disabled on display of a valid pass, after 09:30 on Mondays to Fridays and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. Children under 16 can travel for half fare, though teenagers are advised to carry proof of age in the form of an Under 16 Permit—for journeys wholly within Greater Manchester, an igo card is compulsory for 11- to 16-year-olds.
Season tickets for all Network Warrington services can be purchased from the Travel Centre at Warrington Interchange in the form of Touch & Go! contactless smart cards. These bear the name and photograph of the user and can be purchased for either the Warrington town area or the whole network. Weekly, monthly and annual versions are available, with discounts for students up to the age of 19. A "Midas" prepayment card was introduced in 2013.
The Transport for Greater Manchester System One range of tickets is accepted for journeys within Greater Manchester, but is also valid outside the county as far as Lymm Church and Culcheth Library on routes from Altrincham and Leigh respectively. The Merseytravel range of tickets is accepted for journeys within Merseyside only (on route 22). Cheshire Stored Value Travelcards can be used to purchase tickets on all services, and the company also participates in the Plusbus scheme for add-ons to rail tickets.
Offices and depot
The main depot and offices for Network Warrington are located on Wilderspool Causeway (A49) at the junction with Chester Road (A5060), on the southern periphery of the town centre close to the crossing of the Mersey at Bridge Foot ( ). The two main sheds to the rear of the site were originally built in 1943 for Fairey Aviation and used to assemble wings for their Fulmar bomber, before being bought by Warrington Corporation in 1947 as a place to park buses. The site eventually became the main operational centre, with the frontage of the depot dating from 1964 and consisting of a reception area and vehicle inspection bays at ground level with offices above. The maintenance facilities are licensed to perform MOT tests for HGVs and PSVs.
The original tram system was operated from an eight-track depot at the junction of Mersey Street and Lower Bank Street. A purpose built bus garage was constructed on Lower Bank Street in 1930, although buses were also housed in the old tram sheds following the withdrawal of trams. Despite the move to the new Wilderspool garage, the old staff canteen on Lower Bank Street remained in use until the opening of the new bus station in 1979. The building was demolished in 1981 and is today the site of a DW Sports Fitness Club.
The Travel Centre on the main concourse at Warrington Bus Interchange provides for season ticket sales and information. Other facilities are located here for driving and supervisory staff.
As at January 2015 the fleet consisted of 105 buses.
There is a small reserve fleet consisting of vehicles that are stored pending further use or awaiting disposal, but these are not included in the list below. Additionally, the company also maintains a heritage East Lancs bodied Leyland PD2/40 (Special) dating from 1965, along with an open top Volvo Olympian, both vehicles used on special occasions and available for private hire.
There are examples of several former vehicles that used to operate for the company that are now preserved or undergoing restoration. Some of these are located at transport museums, whilst others can be seen at rallies and historic running days around the country. Many of the earlier examples feature the traditional Warrington licence plate area letter code "ED".
WBT has used a number of different brands and liveries in its history, as follows:
- Warrington Corporation Tramways
- The original livery adopted on trams and early motorbuses was a deep crimson and light yellow, with ornate gold lettering and lining.
- Warrington Corporation
- In 1945 a new livery was introduced of maroon with ivory bands, three bands on double deckers and one on single deck vehicles.
- Warrington Borough Council
- Following the local government reorganisation of 1974, vehicles started appearing in a mainly light red livery with a large white band around the windows. The new logo of Warrington Borough Council was applied, consisting of a large stylised "W" encompassing the Cheshire sheaf of wheat and the Lancashire rose. This would be replaced with the borough's revised coat of arms in the early 1980s.
- Advertising liveries
- The first all-over advertising bus appeared in 1977 when a Daimler Fleetline was painted in a mainly white livery with graphics advertising Baldwins, the local Leyland car dealership. Other all-over advertisements have appeared for Vladivar Vodka and Warrington Wolves amongst others.
- Warrington Borough Transport
- Upon the establishment of the arms-length company in 1986, a new logo appeared incorporating the borough coat of arms. The primary colours of red and white remained generally the same until the white was replaced with ivory in the late 1990s, although vehicles started to appear with a "Welcome aboard" legend in the front windscreen and forward near-side window.
- CoachLines of Warrington
- Set up as a subsidiary company in 1987 offering coach hire and a programme of tours and excursions, the coach fleet built up to 14 vehicles before being downsized around 1995. The subsidiary ceased trading a few years later. The livery used was Aircraft Blue and Canary Yellow diagonal stripes on a Naples Blue livery.
- Mini bus services to Penketh and Dudlows Green were started in 1987 and used a primrose and blue livery, the colours used by the local rugby league club. The MiniLines fleet was repainted into the standard red and white livery around 1995.
- Mid-Cheshire Bus Lines
- Four vehicles bought in 1988 to operate newly acquired services to Northwich retained the blue and cream livery of their previous owner, Eastbourne Buses. Crosville were said to be unhappy at the introduction of this brand due to the fact that they had used it as a local branding scheme for vehicles in the Northwich area in the early part of the 1980s, the original Mid Cheshire Bus Co Ltd having sold out to North Western in 1924. A new service to Warburton saw the arrival of four additional vehicles from Preston Bus in 1990 wearing a similar blue and cream livery. The fleetname would be phased out of use by 1995, with the vehicles receiving standard WBT red and white livery.
- New deliveries of Dennis Darts up until 1995 received the CoachLines livery but with MidiLines fleetnames. New deliveries and repaints from 1995 onwards retained the MidiLines branding as secondary to the main WBT logo on the standard red and white/ivory livery.
- Route branding
- Most buses are used on several routes so route branding has been limited. In 1999, new low floor buses were delivered with extra yellow logos for the 20•21 circular services, and in 2001 two buses featured purple and blue branding for the 16•16A service. Both of these brands have been lost in recent years as a common pool of low-floor buses has been established.
- Super Mini and Super Midi
- The fleet renewal started in 1998 saw new mini and (low-floor) midi buses appearing with this branding instead of the ones previously used (i.e. MiniLines and MidiLines).
- network warrington
- To co-incide with the 2006 opening of the new bus interchange in Warrington town centre, the front-line fleet was rebranded in a new red livery with cream and orange circular detailing, designed by Samantha Beeley. The fleetname "network warrington" is used, with "warrington borough transport" appearing underneath in small letters. The original design contained the strapline "connecting warrington" but this was soon replaced by "making warrington move". The borough coat of arms was deliberately left off the sample vehicle, but was added after 92% of respondents to feedback questionnaires felt it should be retained.
- A special purple and yellow livery and brand was introduced in 2002 for the minibus that originally operated the town centre circular service, with publicity and timetable leaflets designed by Best Impressions. This was replaced in 2008 with a new low-floor bus featuring a scheme based on the standard livery, with route branding using the established purple and yellow colours.
- Chapelford Connector
- Vehicles with similar fronts to the regular Network Warrington buses, but changed at the back to be covered with leaves forming a green/orange colour. This was introduced as route 17 and linked the new Chapelford development to the centre of Warrington in one direction and to Westbrook in the other. The route was later extended to Gemini Retail Park, and then also to cover Whittle Hall.
- Connect 17
- As part of a successful bid for government funding, the 17 was extended in 2012 to provide a service across the north of the town, serving employment areas from Lingley Mere (route 17A only) to Birchwood Park, as well as Orford Park leisure complex (though this section of the route was later withdrawn). The service was rebranded as 'Connect 17' and was given brand new Versa vehicles with distinctive purple and teal 'Connect 17' livery. The route has since become orbital, operating both clockwise (17C) and anti-clockwise (17A) every half hour, in part replacing the former service 24.
- Companies House extract company no 1990371 Warrington Borough Transport Limited
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- Robinson 1990, p. 44
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- Hesketh 2006, p. 28
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- Hesketh, Peter (1998) "After the War is Over". Buses 50 (523). ISSN 0007-6392
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- Morris, Stephen (2004) "Warrington – Heading for a Golden Future". Buses Focus 32. ISSN 1355-3011
- Phillips, Ron. (2002) Warrington Borough Transport, 1902–2002: 100 Years of Service to the Community, DTS Publishing. ISBN 1-900515-50-4
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