Review 2017

Welcome to my Review of 2017
relating to the bus operators
of north east Wales

P and O Coaches, Bagillt

This company have only operated 2 double deckers for some time.  Whilst arriving just before Christmas in 2016 W817PAE and W823PAE mainly started work in January 2017.  They are Volvo B7TL / Alexander ALX400 and they came from First Citybus [32017/24].  They arrived with their very smart company livery.   The two ex Arriva Olympians that they replacedN705/7TPK left for Ripley, Barnsley in January 2017.

In March 2017 a  Merecedes Tourismo arrived from Conlon, Clones in the Republic of Ireland.  It came with the registration number 141-MN-149.  There was a little delay in getting it re-registered but in April it was given the new number DF63KOD and it was also given the normal smart cream livery.  It then joined the other 5 Tourismos in the fleet.

The main other acquisitions of the year have been 3 Optare Solo SR's which were purchased for newly won service contracts of the 8 (Mold - Sealand Manor) and the 14 (Mold - Denbigh) {previously Townlynx and Llew Jones respectively}.   YJ60KFT and YJ60KFU arrived from Dawson Rentals in September and YJ12PMY arrived a month later from Compass, Worthing.

February 2017

Sadly Selwyn Williams died on Sunday 5th February 2017.  He was one of the sons of Tommy Williams who had operated a bus business from the village of Rhosllanerchrugog from 1924. After Tommy died Selwyn and his brother Foster ran the business until Foster died in 1981.  Selwyn then ran the business until it finally ceased in 2004 when he then retired.  I was fortunate to have the pleasure of riding on Selwyn's buses during my childhood with my favourite being the Roe bodied AEC Regal IV.  I was even more privileged to be able to spend an afternoon with Selwyn who helped me with my research into his fleet.  He was to say the least an interesting character.

Davies, Leeswood

Three vehicles entered the Davies fleet this year and three left.  Also in the latter part of the year the licence was changed from the sole trader of Mrs Elizabeth Davies to a partnership involving Elizabeth Davies together with her son Paul Davies and  Patricia Davies.

The vehicle arriving first in February 2017 was BGZ8599 a Volvo B10M-62 / Plaxton - C53F which had been new in March 2000 to Park, Hamilton and which arrived from Taylor of Yeovil.

Arriving in June 2017 was GIG7078 a DAF DE33WSSB3000 / Van Hool Alizee - C53F.  It was new in April 2000 as 00-CN-1444 to Park Transport, Stradone, Ireland and came from Warren (Bluebird Coaches), Neath.

Arriving in September 2017 was YJ03VOA a Volvo B12M / Plaxton Paragon - C70F.    New in May 2003 to Wallace Arnold Coaches it came from Derighetti & Robertson, Kirkcaldy.

Leaving the fleet this year for scrap in April 2017 was P552BAY (Dennis Javelin / Marcopolo 209).  In September MNZ1193 Bova FHD12-340 left for Davies Motors, Ruthin and in October LUI7863 (DAF SB3000 / Van Hool) also left for the same dealer.

Oares of Holywell, Brynford

A relatively quite year for this company.  No additions to the fleet but two departures.  L974KTH (Volvo B10M-60 / Van Hool) left in February 2017 to HDA Travel, Anglesey and XXI8950 (Leyland Tiger TRCTL11/3LZ / Wadham Stringer Vanguard) left in the summer for scrap.

March 2017

Howards Way, Coedpoeth.

In March 2017 the business Howards Way that had been started by Will Howard in 1992 ceased trading after he had decided to retire.  It had operated with a maximum of two vehicles at any one time. He mainly did a school contract and a little private hire The last two vehicles HIW6168 and M582BVL both Mercedes-Benz with Leisnster and Autobus bodies had been with the business for over eight years and were sold to a dealer for scrap.

Coastline, Rhyl.

A new business to operate larger coaches in March was Coastline. The firm had been operating mainly taxis and private hire vehicles for a number of years but did operate an ex GHA service in Denbighshire under the emergency timetable. During March of this year they purchased a Volvo B7R / Jonckheere SF53MGO.  A month later they purchased HF06ETK a Temsa Safari.  These coaches are used on newly won school contracts and are also used on private hire.

Unicorn Travel, Llay

In March 2017, this relatively small firm, took delivery of a brand new MAN Neoplan Tourliner OU17ORN. It joined a fleet which already had a '11' plate version.  The Tourliners were joined by a third example in October 2017 - PN13TFO which arrived from City Circle, Hayes.  The fourth vehicle in the fleet is a Mercedes Benz Atego YN55KWB in an unusual pink livery. Its sister YN55KWC left the fleet in April together with the Transliner R19YHS (V92EAK) which left in July. The firm had a number of vehicles on loan this year including a Tourliner demonstrator. This firm works very closely with Pats Coaches in Southsea.

April 2017

Pats Coaches, Southsea

Perhaps the most luxurious coach I have ever seen joined the Pat's Coaches fleet in April 2017.  I was privileged to be at the depot when PC17LUX arrived.  A VDL Futura 2 it is liveried for its principal operation that of Leger Luxuria standard work.  With just 31 seats it has armchair-style seats, some facing into tables, each seat has retractable calf rests, each seat has a personal touch-screen TV which is linked to a multi-channel entertainment system including Freeview TV. There are also full size plug sockets and USB points.  Whilst being fortunate to see it on arrival I have only managed to see it once since as it spends a considerable amount of time out of the country.

Three other vehicles have joined the fleet this year.  YT10WLA a Scania / Irizar came from Terravision in January and was refurbished before being put into service.  YN58BEO arrived from Attain, Birmingham in May.  The Scania Irizar I4 has an unusual door configuration. MK59HNA an Iveco Daily / Excel Excalibur came from Anthony's Travel in October.

easyCoach, Shrewsbury

A new arrival into the area was the company
The Skiers Lodge Limited of Shrewsbury which trades as easyCoach.  They won the contract to run the 64 (Llangollen - Glyn Ceiriog - Llanarmon DC) service. Two buses that were initially chosen to run the service were given names of the two ladies of Llangollen - Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.  

This company whose principal route was the airport transfer from Telford to Manchester has expanded rapidly and later in the year they won the contract to run the 436 (Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth) service.  This service for a while was run by GHA.

One interesting aspect is that Stephen Bryce has recently left easyCoach,  Before he went to work for Andrew Martin at easyCoach he was General Manager of GHA at the demise of their demise.

Townlynx, Greenfield.

Two brand new ADL Enviro 200 MMC  41 seat service buses joined the Townlynx fleet this year.  YX17NZA arrived at the end of March and YX17NZB arrived in April.  For a few weeks prior to their arrival an identical demonstrator
YX65RLO was in use.

No vehicles have left the fleet but a number have been withdrawn.

There have been significant changes in the services operated by the firm.  In July the commercially run service - the T1 (Greenfield to Chester) was withdrawn. From September they lost the contracts for running the 8 (Mold to Garden City) and the 9/X9 (Connahs Quay to Wrexham / Chester).  However their principal service the 28 from Wrexham to Mold and Flint was extended to Greenfield thus enabling passengers to travel direct from Wrexham to Holywell.  Whilst they initially de-registered two other services they quickly re-registered them and continue to operate the 6 (Mold - Pantymwyn) and the 40 (Mold to Wrexham via Treuddyn).

May 2017

Beacher Coaches Limited / Darren Excursions

Darren operates a programme of tours to various venues.  Normally he only operates one coach.  In May 2017 he obtained his current coach - YJ04BYG a DAF SB4000 / Van Hool - C41Ft. It was new in March 2004 to Fishwick, Leyland in Leger livery and came from Sainton in Kendal. Regrettably there were quite a few teething problems with the coach and it did spend quite a bit of time off the road after arrival.  His former coach BBZ232  (K458VVR) Volvo B10M-60 / Van Hool Alizee T8 left in June for Pearson Coaches, Chesterfield.  Darren also disposed of his Transit AK04KWN which went to to Yorkshire Travel, Rotherham.  Darren has often used coaches from the Davies, Leeswood fleet and some of his tours have required a duplicate vehicle which has often been supplied from Davies normally with driver Mike Newton.

Strafford Coaches, Coedpoeth

A number of changes occurred to the fleet in August including the arrival of AT55CZH a Dennis Javelin / Plaxton Profile - C41F  together with YN04WSV a Mercedes Benz Vario O814D / Plaxton Cheetah - C33F.     Earlier in the year in March YN57ENV a Mercedes-Benz 1523L / Unvi Cimo- C41F also joined the fleet.  

Leaving the fleet this year in August for Shelton Motors was K638GVX (Mercedes Benz 709D / Plaxton Beaver), W651SJF (M88GAS) Iveco EuroMidi / Indcar Maxim and TIL5081 (Dennis Javelin / Berkhof Axial 35).  In November P865ADO (Mercedes Benz 814D / Autobus Nouvelle) left and went to Davies Motors, Ruthin.

June 2017

Arriva Buses Wales

In June 2017 Arriva launched a fleet of Sapphire liveried vehicles that were intended to work the prestigious 1 (Chester to Wrexham) Service. Part of an investment of some £3.4million the buses were 13 brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC double deckers on the Alexander Dennis E40D chassis. They have Cummins ISB6.7 engines coupled up to Voith D854.6 4-speed gearboxes and produce emissions to the Euro 6 standard. Stop-start technology is also specified to further reduce emissions.  As part of the upgraded luxury service, there is spacious E-Leather seating, USB charging points and free WiFi. The new fleet came fully equipped with “talking buses” technology, meaning buses are fitted with bilingual display screens and audio announcement equipment, that has been specially designed for the visually impaired and those unfamiliar with the route.

Of the 13 new vehicles the 1 service has a maximum requirement of only 11 vehicles with two of these only needed for part of the day at the peak time.  The other two vehicles were therefore utilised often during the year on the 5 (Wrexham to Llangollen) service which at the time was in competition with D Jones and Son.

There was an earlier launch by Arriva Buses Wales when in March the newly built Rhyl depot was formally opened.  This time the investment being some £3million.

The 11 vehicles released in Wrexham by the new fleet were moved to other depots.  Three of them (4410/4420/1) went to Winsford and they were often found seen working on the 84 service into Chester.  The other eight (4402-9) went to Rhyl for use mainly on the 51/X51 (Rhyl - Denbigh - Ruthin - Wrexham) services and therefore could still be seen in the town.  In general they all received the new Arriva livery before starting their new work.

Arriva Buses Wales registered a new service to be worked by the Manor Lane depot involving the X30 (Chester to Runcorn).  Apparently the reason for the intended transfer of this service from the Runcorn depot was to increase the capacity of the vehicles on the service to double deckers. There has been a long standing agreement that Runcorn depot is to remain decker free due to the number of low bridges in the area particularly around the busway.  In addition to the new registration some additional journeys were planned involving positional runs at the beginning and end of the working day.  In reality the service did not transfer from Runcorn depot and until a later registration of the service took effect the English depot had to run the service with notices on the buses used 'On hire to Arriva Buses Wales'.

August 2017

E Jones and Sons, Rhosllanerchrugog

A number of fleet changes started in August of this year. 
The first to join he fleet was YN61AWV a Mercedes-Benz Vario O816D / Plaxton Chettah- C33F.  It was new in September 2011 to Cropper, Guiseley.

Arriving in September 2017 was SN08CNJ a Scania K340IB4 / Irizar - C70F. It was new to Doigs, Glasgow in April 2008 -but arrived from Turbostyle, Crawley.

The last to arrive came in October 2017 and was E11SPG [YN08JBX] a Scania K380EB4 / Irizar PB - C49Ft which had been new in May 2008 to Buzzlines, Hythe and had been with a number of operators before coming from Freestones Coaches, Norfolk.

Leaving the fleet for Slevin, Monilea IRELAND in August was YN55KLU [EJS7A] (Mercedes Benz O814D / Plaxton ) and also leaving for another operator in Ireland in September were  YS02XEC  [UN02BUZ] [C7EJS] (Scania K114EB4 / Irizar)  and YR02ZYZ  [J333DTT, EJS7C] Scania K114IB / Irizar.

Voel Coaches, Dyserth

The main change to the Veol Coaches fleet occurred in August on the arrival of two brand new MAN / Neoplan Tourliners. - OU17OTV arrived on 31st July - OU17OTW - arrived a week later.   PJ60VNF (Neoplan Tourliner) and YN14PMX (Scania OmniExpress / Lahden)  went in part exchange. 

Apart from a change of Volkwagen Transporter the only other main change has been the arrival in November of SF59DTX an Iveco Daily 65C18 /  NuTrack - B25FL which arrived from North Lanarkshire Council (23007).

September 2017

Jones Motor Services, Flint

Alun Jones, the current proprietor of this business, is preparing for his retirement and sadly one vehicle that left the fleet this summer was JCK892 a Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/2T / Burlingham - C36F.  It was new in March 1956 to Auty, Bury [which at that time had been acquired by Ribble,] it then passed to the main Ribble fleet  (980)  and was with Phillips of Holywell before it arrived with Jones Motor Services.  It was often seen at various Rallies in particular in Llandudno.   Fortunately it has gone to a good home with Ensignbus in London where it has already been given appropriate logos and has been seen at a Rally.

Stagecoach  (Glenvale Transport Limited)

In September 2017 Stagecoach commenced another service that visited the area.  After the cessation of GHA they worked the SP1/2 (Mold to Ellesmere Port) service and shortly after that  1/1X/2 (Ruthin - Mold - Chester) corridor.  Their involvement in the area was extended when they were successful in winning the 9 / X9 services that run from Connahs Quay to both Chester and Wrexham.  Included in the working are some school work that visits Mold Alun School.  Initially the vehicles used on these services were the trio of Enviro200 MMCs 37440/1/2 (SN16ORX/ORZ/OSP) but these vehicles transferred to Stagecoach Devon in the latter part of the year. Since then much older vehicles of the fleet were utilised on the 9/X9.

The company further extended its services into the area at the conclusion of the year when it commenced operation of the ex D Jones and Son service - C56 (Wrexham to Chester via Farndon).

October 2017

During the autumn of 2017 an unusual visitor to the region was OP02ARE an Optare M890EV Solo SR.  It was originally registered YJ13HKY when new in July 2013 and is an all electric demonstrator.

Its appearance in the area follows the announcement by the government in August that £11 million is to be given between six local authorities under the government’s ‘Low emission bus scheme’ to help them buy 153 cleaner buses. Denbighshire is set to receive £500,000 of this pot and is expected to provide four electric buses to be used in the mid part of the County.

It was initially working with Lloyds of Machynlleth but then moved further north and was operated by M and H Coaches of Trefnant concentrating on the 66 (Henllan and Denbigh town services) and on the 76 (Denbigh - Llandyrnog - Ruthin - Graigfechan) service. 

It then moved to Stagecoach at Chester and it worked on the 1/X1/2 Ruthin - Mold - Chester corridor.

November 2017

Valentine Transport Solutions Limited

This company commenced a new service TL1/2 Wrexham Town Link on 20th November. The business previously specialised in executive mini buses and private was established in 2009 by father and son Jerry and Chris Valentine. To operate the new service a brand new Optare M790SE-R Solo SR was purchased and it was given the cherished number J66VTS.

Alun Andrew, Mostyn

In November 2017 this small operator from Mostyn increased his fleet to five vehicles with the acquisition of YX54GZB a Mercedes Benz Vario O814D / Plaxton Beaver 2.  It was new in January 2005 to Perry & Holtby, Malton from whom Alun obtained the vehicle.

December 2017

A devastating shock hit us at the end of the year when suddenly D Jones and Son ceased trading. The family headed by Elias Jones started a bus business back in 1968.  David was one of his sons and became part of this business. The E Jones and Sons business grew from mini buses to private hire and service work.  They took over the coaches of J Phillips of Rhostyllen in 1979 and also in 1985 the vehicles and routes of M A Evans operating in the northern area of Wrexham were purchased. However in 1995 after a family dispute the business of E Jones and Sons started an irrevocable split. Eventually David and his son Gary traded as D Jones and Son and the premises in Acrefair as their base was established.

Following the collapse of GHA in July 2016 the business expanded when a number of extra routes were operated including the 5 (Wrexham - Llangollen), 41/42 (Wrexham Industrial Estate) and later the 146 (Wrexham - Whitchurch), 6 (Wrexham - Ruabon) and 44 (King Street - Barkers Lane).  In addition to the service work there were a substantial number of school and college contracts undertaken.

The full story of the reasons for the closure of the business is yet to be completely identified but early indications suggest that Gary felt the need to cease trade due to concerns over his health and well-being stating that driver issues was a considerable element.

During 2017 the fleet was expanded with the arrival of CS07JDS a Scania K380EB4 / Irizar Century which arrived in March from Milligan, Maunchline. In August YJ12NBN an Optare M970 Solo SR arrived from Marchants, Cheltenham. Gary had hoped to also purchase its sister YJ12NBO but it was still required by Marchants as a spare vehicle. However in October YJ13HHX an Optare V1210 Versa arrived from Weaver, Newbury.  The newly arrived service vehicles were all given the smart blue and white livery and the three Versas that arrived immediately after the demise of GHA from Webber were also painted into the standard livery.

One notable leaver from the fleet during the year was
V12DJS  The Dennis Dart SLF / Caetano Compass was new to the firm in January 2000.  It left in November 2017 to Davies Motors Ruthin (dealer).

In October 2017 the business was called to a Public Inquiry by the Traffic Commissioner. The outcome was that the partners have been given a warning after certain undertakings were given. The Transport Manager - Gary Jones has not lost his 'repute'' although Nick Jones, the Commissioner, indicated it had been 'tarnished'It appears that the issue related to administration matters mainly involving the way in which maintenance records were being recorded. The Vehicle Examiner giving evidence indicated from the inspections he conducted that he was satisfied that the vehicles had been 'well maintained'.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all a Happy and Prosperous 2018.