Diamond Bus North West
|Founded||April 1998 (as Green Triangle Buses)|
|Service area||Greater Manchester
|Service type||Bus services|
|Fleet||45 (March 2014)|
Diamond Bus North West (formerly South Lancs Travel) is a bus operator providing services in the districts of Bolton and Wigan in Greater Manchester operating an extensive commercial network along with tendered services on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester. It also serves some areas of the districts of Salford and Trafford.
Green Triangle Buses was established in April 1998 by Martin Bott and David Stewart. The new business began with two new Mercedes-Benz Varios which were used on a Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive tender. These were joined by three South Lancashire Transport (also owned by the two partners) single deckers for use on school services.
Less than a year later, route 675 was withdrawn and replaced with the 670/680 circular services. This essentially provided an extension to the existing service, running back to Leigh via Atherton. This was supplemented through the introduction of route 652 (Leigh - Hindley - Wigan). All three services directly competed against the incumbent operator, Bellairs & Dootson.
An opportunity for expansion came in 1998 with the opening of the Trafford Centre. Green Triangle introduced two new daytime services to the centre in the form of the 673 from Atherton and the 674 from Leigh. The 673 only lasted a short time, although the link was later reinstated as the 132; the 674 continues to this day, although it is now numbered 126.
Since then, the company has steadily expanded its network, primarily through tender gains. This expansion took the company deeper into both Wigan and Bolton, with the most significant gain being the award of the GMPTE Easylink network of services.
Commercial work was also added, with SLT taking over route 592 (between Shakerley and Bolton) in 2002, acquiring the service from the one-man Atherton Bus Company following the retirement of the owner. This was linked up with an existing service to form a through service from Leigh to Bolton.
The company also added a network of services in western Wigan in 2005, when it purchased Blue Bus of Bolton's Appley Bridge outstation. This included a small network of services to Shevington, Standish, Orrell and New Springs. The Appley Bridge outstation closed in May 2007.
SLT has more recently expanded its network of services in Bolton, introducing the 514 (in 2009) and 574 (in 2011) services to Middlebrook, as well as taking over service 515 to Ladybridge in 2011 when Arriva North West decided to withdraw the route. It also introduced service 516/517 to Horwich, replacing a similar First Manchester service but on an improved frequency. However, this was soon followed by the withdrawal of the 652.
South Lancs Travel have also been involved in head-to-head competition with First Manchester on a number of occasions. The most notable of these took place in 2002, when, following competitive registrations by First, SLT offered "return tickets for the price of a single fare" - First responded with a £2.00 (later £2.50 then £3.00) weekly ticket for travel within the Leigh area.
First also introduced a short-lived competing 652 service, albeit operating from Hindley Green to Shakerley via Leigh. More recently, First introduced a competing 635 service - SLT retaliated by introducing journeys on the 600 between Wigan and Ashton-in-Makerfield, and offering a £1.00 flat fare. Following the withdrawal of First Greater Manchester services to Shevington, the SLT 600 was withdrawn in May 2008 and SLT is now the sole operator of services to Shevington and Appley Bridge.
On 30 September 2011, South Lancs Travel was sold to Julian Peddle and Crewe based D&G Bus. In January 2012, Strawberry merged with South Lancs Travel and moved its operations to SLT's depot in Atherton. Strawberry's founder Oliver Howarth became joint operations director of the enlarged company. However, he left soon after with Strawberry being acquired by D&G and Julian Peddle and merged into the main company and the name and livery being dropped in favour of the SLT brand.
In January 2013, SLT commenced operating the Bolton Metroshuttle with two Optare Versa hybrids, However they lost that tender to Cumfy Bus in January 2014 who had recently made a move to Bolton following the collapse of Maytree Travel.
In October 2013, South Lancs Travel added an hourly service onto Arriva North West's 715 service running from Wigan to Bolton via Aspull, Westhoughton and Ladybridge however in November 2013 the application to go on the route was rejected and the Traffic Commissioner made South Lancs Travel run the service for free for about three weeks.
As at October 2013 SLT operated 45 routes.
As at March 2014 the fleet consisted of 52 buses.
- Companies House extract company no 3037228 Green Triangle Buses Limited
- "D&G Buys SLT". Bus Fayre (Volume 34 Issue 1): 10–14. January 2012.
- Companies House extract company no 3626201 B&D Coaches Limited
- Millar, Alan (March 2009). "What Julian Did Next". Buses (648): 30–35.
- "D&G buys South Lancs". Bus and Coach. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- "News". D&G Bus. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- "Strawberry buses spreads its patch". The Reporter (St Helens). 17 January 2012.
- Bolton's free town centre bus to continue Transport for Greater Manchester 16 November 2012
- Rotala buys South Lancs Bus & Coach Buyer 4 March 2015
- "Rotala buys South Lancs Travel" Coach & Bus Week issue 1178 3 March 2015 page 7
- Diamond Bus North West Limited Rotala
- Timetables South Lancs Travel
- Fleet List South Lancs Travel