A Warrington Borough Transport VDL SB120 bus
|Slogan||making warrington move|
Tramways in 1902;
Warrington Corporation Transport Department in 1935;
Warrington Borough Council Transport Department in 1972;
Warrington Borough Transport Ltd in 1986
|Headquarters||Wilderspool Causeway, Warrington|
|Locale||Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside|
|Service type||Urban and interurban bus services, school bus, bus charter|
|Destinations||Warrington Borough, Altrincham, Earlestown, Leigh, Northwich|
|Fleet||Around 125 buses|
|Operator||Warrington Borough Transport Ltd|
|Acting MD||Charlie Shannon|
|Web site||Official Website|
Warrington Borough Transport (WBT) is a bus operator running a network of services within the Borough of Warrington, England and into the surrounding area, including Altrincham, Leigh, Earlestown and Northwich. The network of services is marketed under the network warrington name, with both names appearing on vehicles and publicity. The limited company "Warrington Borough Transport Ltd" is wholly owned by Warrington Borough Council, which makes WBT one of the few remaining municipal bus companies in the United Kingdom today.
The company was named UK Bus Operator of the Year at the 2008 UK Bus Awards, in part due to their success in increasing ridership by 20% over the past two years and attaining up to 98% satisfaction in customer surveys.[1 ]
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 as changes in society such as home entertainment and the increasing availability of cars forced cost savings on all bus operators in the country.
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.
Following the deregulation of bus services in the UK, Warrington Borough Transport Ltd took over operations as a limited company, albeit owned 100% by the council. The company's mission was that if money could be made by operating services deemed uneconomic by other operators, then WBT 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 (operating as "Warrington Goldlines") duplicating the vast majority of the existing bus network with their own services, taking over from another new competitor MTL (operating 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 decided to scale-back. 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. In 2002, Arriva decided to close its depot in Warrington, with the effect that WBT took back operation of services to Birchwood whilst Arriva took control of the St Helens route once again.
Large investments have been made in more recent times to replace the fleet with new low-floor single deck buses that are wheelchair accessible and more friendly to people with pushchairs, and marketing efforts have seen the introduction of the Metro Map, to highlight the relatively straight-forward nature of the network operated (in an Underground-style format).
When managing director Nigel Featham took up a similar role at Arriva Yorkshire in May 2008, John Bannister—finance director at WBT since its formation as a limited company in 1986—was promoted to take his place. Bannister was suspended from his post in April 2009 and sacked a month later, the reason reported to have involved "inappropriate behaviour with a female colleague". Operations director Charlie Shannon was appointed acting managing director.
The table below shows the main service routes operated by WBT, correct as of 2 February 2009 All services to Warrington town centre operate from Warrington Bus Interchange. N.B. Colours in table appear on publicity but not buses themselves..
|1, 2||Warrington||Westy||Latchford (Circular)|
|4, 4A||Warrington||Woolston||Padgate, Bruche|
|5||Warrington||Altrincham||Stockton Heath, Thelwall, Lymm, Warburton, Dunham Massey, Bowdon|
|6||Warrington||Lymm||Stockton Heath, Cobbs Estate, Grappenhall, Thelwall, Statham|
|7, 7A||Warrington||Grappenhall||Stockton Heath, Cobbs Estate (7)|
|8, 9||Warrington||Hatton||Stockton Heath, Cobbs Estate (8), Appleton Thorn (8), Stretton|
|11, 11A, 12, 12A||Warrington||Loushers Lane||Latchford (11A, 12A), Gainsborough Rd (Circular)|
|13||Warrington||Westbrook||Whittle Brook, Whittle Hall, Kingswood|
|14, 15||Warrington||Great Sankey||Whittle Brook, Lingley Green, Penketh (Circular)|
|16, 16A||Warrington||Dallam||General Hospital, Bewsey|
|18, 18A||Warrington||Callands||Old Hall, Westbrook, Gemini (18A)|
|19||Warrington||Leigh||Winwick, Croft, Culcheth, Glazebury|
|20, 21||Warrington||Longford||Orford (Circular)|
|20A, 21A||Warrington||Longford||Orford, Dallam, Bewsey, General Hospital (Circular)||Early morning and Sunday service only|
|23, 23A||Warrington||Cinnamon Brow||Padgate, Blackbrook, Orange Grove (23A)|
|24, 24A||Warrington||Oakwood||Padgate, Blackbrook, Fearnhead, Birchwood (24), Birchwood Park (24A)|
|25, 25C||Warrington||Gorse Covert||Orford, Locking Stumps, Birchwood, Oakwood|
|25B||Warrington||Ryefields||Retirement Village shoppers' service||1 return journey only|
|26||Warrington||Gorse Covert||Orford, Cinnamon Brow, Locking Stumps, Birchwood, Oakwood||Evening and Sunday service only|
|27||Warrington||Gorse Covert||Orford, Blackbrook, Locking Stumps, Birchwood, Oakwood||Evening and Sunday service only|
|28, 28A||Warrington||Leigh||Padgate, Longbarn, Birchwood (28), Locking Stumps, Risley, Culcheth, Glazebury|
|29||Warrington||Collins Green||Sankey Bridges, Great Sankey, Lingley Green, Whittle Hall, Westbrook, Gemini, Kingswood, Burtonwood||Short journeys terminate at Lingley Green or Westbrook|
|37A||Warrington||Altrincham||Latchford, Thelwall, Statham, Lymm, Broomedge, Little Bollington, Bowdon||Sunday service only|
|38||Warrington||Altrincham||Latchford, Thelwall, Statham, Lymm, Warbuton, Dunham Massey, Bowdon||Sunday service only|
|45||Warrington||Northwich||Stockton Heath, Stretton, Antrobus, Great Budworth, Higher Wincham, Lostock Gralam|
|46||Warrington||Northwich||Stockton Heath, Stretton, Comberbach, Anderton, Barnton|
|48||Warrington||Dudlows Green||Latchford, Stockton Heath, Cobbs Estate, Appleton|
|101||Warrington||Centre Park||Town Centre Shuttle (Circular)||"Centrelink"|
|420||Warrington||Vulcan||Winwick, Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown||Evening and Sunday service terminates at Earlestown|
There are no year-round night bus services operated, although WBT has in the past operated a seasonal night bus network centered 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.
There are currently no dedicated year-round park and ride services, although WBT operates a seasonal Saturdays only scheme to Warrington town centre to cater for Christmas shopping. 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 parks are 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. Parking at the signposted car parks is free of charge, as are the dedicated bus services to and from Warrington Interchange. For 2009, the service will run every 8 minutes between 0930 and 1800 from each location, on Saturdays between 14 November and 19 December inclusive.
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 WBT 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".
WBT 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:
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:
WBT operate a number of school services in addition to their main network. These include services to Lymm High School, Newman High School, St Gregory's Catholic High School, Great Sankey High School, St Aelred's High School (in Newton-le-Willows) and Priestley Sixth Form College.
WBT offers a selection of tickets that can be bought with cash from the driver. 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 "throughfare" for journeys to Warrington Hospital. Day Rover tickets allow a whole day's travel on all WBT services, costing a little more than the maximum day return fare. Change is available from the driver, but customers are asked to provide the exact change if possible.
Up to two children under 5 can travel for free when accompanied by an adult. Other children under 16 can travel for around half price, with teenagers recommended to carry proof of age in the form of an Under 16 Permit. Free concessionary travel is available to senior citizens and the disabled on display of a valid pass, after 0930 on Mondays to Fridays and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
Season tickets for all WBT services can be purchased from the inspectors' office at Warrington Interchange. These passes are only valid with a photocard, and can be purchased for either the Warrington town area or the whole network, including routes to neighbouring towns. Weekly, monthly and annual versions are available.
The GMPTE 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. WBT also participates in the PLUSBUS scheme for add-ons to rail tickets.
The main depot and offices for WBT 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 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 JJB Sports superstore and fitness club.
The current depot's location next to the old Wilderspool Stadium and close to the town centre led to interest from developers in redeveloping the site of the depot and the stadium during 2006. As part of this, a new depot would have been constructed at the nearby Centre Park business park on the other side of the Mersey but still close to the town centre. Whilst WBT were reported to be seriously considering the proposed move, the scheme never moved beyond the drawing board and foundered around the end of the year having failed to gain favour with council planning officers.
The inspectors' office on the main concourse at Warrington Interchange provides for season ticket sales and information.
WBT has a fleet of 121 active buses, consisting of 101 single deck buses (94 with low floor and 7 minibuses) and 20 double deck buses as of 24 December 2009 . The single deck fleet provides the bulk of the company's scheduled bus network with the company normally providing an all low-floor service on Sundays and in the evenings. The majority of the double deck fleet operates on school and contract services, although there are some Monday to Friday daytime scheduled services which see double deck operation.
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 an East Lancs bodied Leyland PD2/40 (Special) dating from 1965, which is a heritage vehicle used on special occasions and available for private hire.
|Dennis Dart SLF||Marshall
|34||40 or 41||1999–2003||Low-floor|
|VDL SB120||Wright Merit
Five vehicles from Arriva Bus & Coach dealer stock
|Volvo B7RLE||Wright Eclipse 2||12||45||2009||Low-floor|
|Optare MetroRider||Optare MetroRider||7||25||1998–1999|
|Total (single deck)||101|
|Alexander (Belfast)||12||47 (upper)
31 or 33 (lower)
78 or 80 (total)
|1991–1996||Formerly Dublin Bus, arrived 2004–2009|
|Leyland Olympian||Northern Counties Palatine||6||47 (upper)
|1990||Formerly Harrogate & District, arrived 2003–2004|
|Leyland Olympian||Alexander||2||47 (upper)
|1992||Formerly Huntingdon & District, arrived 2003|
|Total (double deck)||20|
|Total (all vehicles)||121|
There are no vehicles known to be on order.
The original tramway system opened in 1902 with 21 double-deck trams. Six further trams entered service in 1920 to help increase frequencies. The first Corporation bus service started in 1913, but the reliability of early buses was not great and the trams were still very much the "Senior Service". Tilling Stevens and Leyland SG7 and Leviathans were amongst the first motor vehicles operated. The demise of the tramway saw the first buses subject to the Road Traffic Act 1930 brought into the fleet. Large numbers of front-engined double-deck buses were purchased prior to the Second World War, mainly consisting of Crossley Mancunians and Leyland Titans, with a variety of bodywork including bodies from the chassis makers themselves but also from MCCW, English Electric, Brush and Charles Roberts amongst others.
Post-war, more Titans with bodywork by Leyland, Alexander and Bruce Coachworks were ordered, along with Bristol K6Gs. The latter was an unusual vehicle to be operated by a municipal fleet due to the newly-nationalised Bristol only supplying vehicles to the nationalised Tilling Group, but the Corporation had a prior order placed. Another unusual vehicle type in use post-war was the Foden PVD6 as there were only 61 examples built. Warrington was the largest customer with a total of 15. Delays in bodywork production also led to several new chassis receiving the bodywork from withdrawn pre-war vehicles, in contrast to other operators who were putting new bodywork on old chassis.
Rear-engined vehicles suitable for one person operation started entering the fleet in 1963, with Daimler Fleetlines becoming the standard double-decker bus. Most new vehicles in this era were bodied by East Lancs: from 1954 to 1987, almost all new service buses featured bodywork from East Lancs, the only exceptions being a batch of Bristol REs delivered in 1970. These featured bodywork by Pennine due to production delays caused by a fire at the East Lancs factory. Single-deck vehicles consisted of Leyland Panther Cubs and Bristol REs, with Bristol now allowed to sell to the open market again. These appeared on less patronised routes, especially those in rural Cheshire. The last Bristol RE was withdrawn in 1999 after 23 years of service in Warrington.
New vehicles due to be delivered in the mid-1970s were subject to production delays, so many buses from other operators were used on loan until the first of a large batch of Leyland Atlanteans arrived in 1977. Dennis Dominators and Leyland Olympians entered the fleet from 1982 onwards. Second-hand vehicles were not common until the 1980s when expansion required an influx of additional vehicles. Prior to that, six ex-London Transport DMS with MCW bodywork formed the largest batch of buses that started their lives elsewhere. Post deregulation in 1987, further second-hand vehicles were acquired from a variety of different sources: Fleetlines from Greater Manchester Transport; Atlanteans from Eastbourne, Preston and Blackburn; Dominators from Leicester; and Olympians from Derby and Arriva.
Moves were also made towards the procurement of smaller, lightweight single-deck vehicles, with the first minibuses in the fleet appearing in 1987 in the form of Dodge S56s, later replaced by Optare MetroRiders. The Dennis Dart midibus was first introduced in 1991, with a mixture of bodywork supplied by Carlyle, Northern Counties, Marshall and Plaxton, and these vehicles began to appear on previously double-deck operated routes. The last new double-decker delivered to the company was in 1989, with elderly double-deckers required for school services being progressively replaced by second-hand, mid-life examples from Blazefield and Dublin. The latest generation of single-deck low floor buses consists of Dennis Dart SLFs and VDL SB120s dating from 1999 onwards, which have displaced both double-deckers and earlier step-entrance Darts.
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".
|Peckham P22||Milnes||-||2||1902||Tram currently undergoing restoration at the Wirral Transport Museum|
|Leyland Titan PD1||Alexander||DED 797||18||1946||Privately owned, at North West Museum of Road Transport|
|Leyland Titan PD1||Alexander||EED 5||27||1946||Preserved|
|Leyland Titan PD1||Alexander||EED 8||24||1947||Preserved|
|Leyland Titan PD2/1||Leyland||FED 795||10||1949||Preserved as world tour bus|
|Foden PVD6||East Lancs||OED 217||112||1956||Last Foden PVD6 built, privately owned in Devon|
|Leyland Titan PD2/40||East Lancs||AED 31B||16||1964||Preserved at Bohemia Motor Transport Museum, Czech Republic|
|Leyland Titan PD2/40 (Special)||East Lancs||BED 729C||148||1965||Preserved by the company|
|Leyland Titan PD2/40 (Special)||East Lancs||BED 731C||50||1965||Preserved at North West Museum of Road Transport|
|Leyland Panther Cub PSRC1/1||East Lancs||KED 546F||92||1968||Preserved|
|Bristol RESL6G||East Lancs||LED 70P||70||1975||Preserved in Wigan|
|Bristol RESL6G||East Lancs||LED 71P||71||1975||Privately owned, at North West Museum of Road Transport|
|Bristol RESL6G||East Lancs||LED 72P||72||1975||Preserved, stored near Uckfield|
|Bristol RESL6G||East Lancs||LED 73P||73||1975||Preserved in St Helens|
|Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R||East Lancs||GEK 14V||14||1980||Privately owned, currently undergoing restoration at North West Museum of Road Transport|
|Leyland Atlantean AN68C/1R||East Lancs||OTB 26W||26||1981||Preserved at Bohemia Motor Transport Museum, Czech Republic|
|Dennis Dominator||East Lancs||C100 UBC||100||1985||Preserved in Leicester|
|Dodge S56||Northern Counties||D101 TTJ||201||1987||Awaiting restoration, stored in Warrington|
|Dennis Dart||Carlyle Dartline||H886 LOX to be re registered with a northern irish plate||209||1990||awaiting attention to be used as a recovery vehicle, current owners T. Tiley/J. Potter Stroud|
|Dennis Dart||Carlyle Dartline||H842 NOC||214||1991||Preserved|
The company gained Investors in People accreditation in 2004, and attained the Charter Mark award for customer service in 2005. Accreditation in Health & Safety management in the work place was achieved in 2008 with the award of the OHSAS 18001 certificate, a first for a UK bus operator.
WBT gained national recognition after being named UK Bus Operator of the Year at the 2008 UK Bus Awards,[1 ] after having been runners-up in the Shire Operator of the Year category in 2007 behind the highly-regarded Stagecoach Cambridge. The driving team were also shortlisted for Industry People of the Year in 2007, with the company's marketing efforts being shortlisted for Marketing Campaign of the Year in 2008.
|“||Network Warrington has certainly transformed the quality of bus travel in the town, backed up by customer satisfaction surveys showing ratings of 98%. Understandably, all this impressed the judges but, even more importantly, the evidence on the ground certainly impressed our intrepid mystery traveller and his findings confirm that Warrington Borough Transport is the truly deserving bus operator of the year 2008.||”|
—Judging panel, 2008 UK Bus Awards[1 ]
Locally, the company has won several awards at the Warrington Business Awards, winning the Social Responsibility Award in 2001 and 2007 and the Business Survivor Award in 2003. They were also awarded overall winner at The Mayor's Sustainable Business Awards in 2007.
The company's Manchester based advertising agency And Partners have won several awards for their "Good Signs" campaign: gold award in the Regional Newspaper Campaign category at the 2007 Fresh Creative Awards; named Best Regional Press Ad of 2007 in Campaign magazine's end of year review; gold award for Best Press Campaign and silver award for Best Advertisement on a Mobile Medium at the Roses Advertising Awards 2008. The campaign consisted of a series of adverts featuring bus signage promoting recent achievements in humorous fashion, including "Please mind the step, it's brand spanking new" highlighting investment in new vehicles and "Please do not hug the driver while bus is in motion" referring to high levels of customer satisfaction in surveys.