Wessex Bus

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Wessex Bus
Bristol City Centre - Wessex Bus YT61FEO.jpg
Scania OmniCity in Bristol in 2011, with UWE livery
FoundedApril 2007
Defunct1 September 2018
Service areaBristol
Service typeBus services
Routes14 (July 2018)
HubsSouthmead Hospital
Fleet105 (2017)
Daily ridership0
Chief executiveSteven Watkins

Wessex Bus was a bus operator in the West of England that operated from June 2007 until September 2018.[1]


Wessex Connect Alexander ALX100 bodied Mercedes-Benz Vario at Bath bus station in September 2010
Wessex Connect branded MCV Evolution bodied Dennis Dart in September 2010
Royal Bath branded Plaxton Pointer 2 bodied Dennis Dart SLF in Bath in September 2010
Park & Ride liveried Plaxton Centro bodied Volvo B7RLE in September 2010

In June 2007 the bus side of the South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach company was purchased by Rotala subsidiary Flights Hallmark, trading as Wessex Connect.[2][3] The purchase included 68 buses and was completed in stages until 31 March 2008, this being dictated by the need for Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils to approve the transfer of the routes.[4]

In September 2011, Wessex moved into a new depot which was a former timber yard on St Andrew's Road, Avonmouth. The move allowed Wessex to set up a new regional head office for the South West operations, where all the maintenance requirements could be met. The previous depot, which was owned by South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach, was operating at near full capacity following the growth of both businesses.[5]

In 2017, the fleet size stated by the company was 105 with a second depot in Keynsham.[6]

Following the loss of most of its local authority subsidised services to other operators, Wessex ceased operations on 1 September 2018, with eight services, nine vehicles and 60 employees transferring to Stagecoach West. One route (the 42 from Odd Down Park and Ride and the Royal United Hospital) was taken over by First West of England.[7][8][9]

Wessex Star[edit]

A major contract included with the purchase of South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach was the University of the West of England (UWE) Student Shuttle services. The UWE Flyer service was one of the first routes that Wessex Connect ran for South Gloucestershire, and soon after the Student Shuttle and Bower Aston shuttle.[10][11] From September 2007 UWE in conjunction with Rotala developed a network of routes based around linking the satellite campuses of Bower Ashton, St Matthias and Glenside, with Frenchay campus and student accommodation on a cost contract basis.[12] The services were branded as Ulink, to provide a new high-quality low-cost bus service for students and staff.[13]

The services had proved so popular with staff and student at UWE that the demand for the service had increased by over 100% after its first year of operation; passenger numbers in September 2008 were at around 6,000 per day.[14]

By September 2011 the network had been re-branded as Wessex Red and had grown from three routes requiring five buses in 2007 to eight routes requiring 26, with regular duplicate vehicles in operation particularly on route U4.[15]

In 2012 the UWE was replaced with Wessex Red branding. The network also dropped the U prefix from the routes which was replaced with a '1' (e.g. U1 became 11 etc.) in a move to make the network appeal to the ordinary travelling public and not just students.[16]

On 1 September 2014 Wessex Red was renamed Wessex Star. In November 2015 a new route commenced named The One, followed be The One 2.[17][18] The One 2 was withdrawn in December 2016.[19] All Wessex Star services were withdrawn by July 2017.[20]


On 11 May 2009, Wessex Connect started operating a new branded Uni-Connect U18 service between University of Bath and Lower Oldfield Park via Bath city centre. All commercially operated bus services from the university were withdrawn in September 2017.[21]

Wessex Bath[edit]

Due to the success of the Uni-Connect services that Wessex operated in Bath, further services were launched duplicating existing First Somerset & Avon routes. On 27 September 2010, Wessex commenced operation of new routes 5 and 10 under the Royal Bath brand name.[22] Running to Twerton and Southdown respectively, they are in addition to frequent services on both of those routes run by First.

On 3 October 2010, Wessex Connect took over operation of route 620 between Tetbury and Bath, after previous operator Cotswold Green withdrew from the route.[23]

Park & ride[edit]

Wessex operated two park & ride services in Bristol:

The company's bids were unsuccessful for the re-tender of these contracts and in April 2012, they passed to CT Plus[24] and First Bristol respectively.[25] In September 2014, Wessex commenced operating a new park and ride service, the 901 between Portway and Clifton;[26] this service ceasing in September 2016.[27] It also operated the 505 service between Southmead Hospital and Long Ashton park & ride.


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 4327651 Wessex Bus Limited formerly Flights Hallmark Limited
  2. ^ History Rotala
  3. ^ About Wessex Rotala
  4. ^ Rotala buys in the West Midlands & South West Transit 29 June 2007 page 7
  5. ^ Ambitious coach firm delighted with new base Bristol Post 14 September 2011
  6. ^ "About Wessex". Rotala plc. April 2017. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  7. ^ Important Changes for Wessex Bus Wessex Bus 20 July 2018
  8. ^ Wessex bus to close and services 42, 12 and 51 cancelled in Bristol and Bath Bristol Post 20 July 2018
  9. ^ First Bus to take on Wessex 42 service Coach & Bus Week issue 1354 7 August 2018 page 7
  10. ^ UWE Flyer 2007 timetable University of the West of England 11 July 2007
  11. ^ UWE Shuttles 2007 timetable University of the West of England 31 May 2007
  12. ^ New Ulink service from Sep 2007 University of the West of England 2 August 2007
  13. ^ UWE launches high quality low cost bus service University of the West of England 14 September 2007
  14. ^ UWE expands popular student bus service Bristol Post 20 November 2008
  15. ^ UWE service expands Bristol Post 30 July 2011
  16. ^ "2012 Travel Plan" (PDF). University of the West of England, Bristol. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  17. ^ New low-cost service - The One - starting in November Wessex Bus 14 September 2015
  18. ^ "Great Value Fares on the One & One2". Wessex Bus. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  19. ^ One 2 Service Withdrawal Wessex Bus 1 December 2016
  20. ^ "One 2 Service Withdrawal". Wessex Bus. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  21. ^ University of Bath service withdrawal Wessex Bus 11 August 2017
  22. ^ New Royal Bath service launch Bath Chronicle 23 September 2012
  23. ^ "Bus and tram route history". Bristol Vintage Bus Group. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  24. ^ Bristol has got bendy buses Boris Johnson didn't want Bristol Post 6 September 2011
  25. ^ First Bristol 903 timetable First Bristol
  26. ^ Scrutiny Commission Report Bristol City Council 23 October 2014
  27. ^ "Service Changes to Bristol 501, 502 and 901 services". Wessex Bus. 2 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016.

External links[edit]