the Buses, then and now
The meeting took
place at Tebay Methodist Church, when a rather small and select
gathering was given a lively and interesting talk by Roger Davies, of
his career in the road passenger transport industry, much of it in the
south of England, but was delighted to be appointed in
September 1975 as Assistant Area Superintendent (Northern) of Ribble
Motor Services, and was based in Kendal. This was one of the largest
bus companies in Britain , and its local buses served an area from
Liverpool in the south to Carlisle in the north, with the exception of
west Cumbria. Roger traced the history of the bus industry in this
country from World War I onwards, illustrating this in the main with
examples from Ribble, which was founded in 1919, near Preston, and
expanded hugely and rapidly till within 20 years it covered the area
described with more than 1000 vehicles.
World War was a time of great difficulty, with greatly increased demand
because of the cessation of private motoring, the growth of factories
for munitions and other war related production, and great shortages of
staff, many of whom went to war, and new vehicles, because their
factories were engaged in war work.
war, the big bus companies found themsleves in two large groups, one
completely state owned and the other partly. Much energy was
spent in restoring the depredation of the war, and this period was just
about at the peak of the industry. Two main factors caused the decline
from then on: the rapid growth of private motoring, and increased
government regulation, including the sudden imposition of fuel tax,
which greatly increased costs as demand declined. In the
1970's the two main bus groups were united as the National Bus Compnay,
and then later sold off: hence the growth of Stagecoach and the other
large groups, privately owned.
government regulation did not stop. The introduction of the elderly
persons' bus pass, without warning, has made it very difficult for
local authoritis to fund, and none pay the bus companies the normal
fare in recompense - 25% is a not unusual proportion. Some counties,
Like Cumbria, have decided to cease all subsidies for uneconomic
routes, so that all routes must pay for themselves.
With a talk
illustrated richly with many anecdotes from his own experience, Roger
Davies presented a story which stimulated memories for many in the
audience, to give an interesting and informative evening.