LONDON'S INDEPENDENT BUSES;
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Interesting Statistics Regarding the Numbers of Vehicles and Owners. An Association to Protect Independent Interests.Notes on the Largest Fleet.
CONSI. DF,RABLE publicity has been given to the independent buses running on ithe London streets, owing to the fact that they have been permitted to run while not one of the Combine vehicles is to be seen on the road. Whether this state of affairs will continue • very long after the date at which we write remains to be seenbut it has certainly drawn the attention of the public to the progress which these vehicles are making.
Viewed in conjunction with the Combine fleet, their nunibers-are hardly realized, but, actually, there are between 230 and 250. of them on the road. However, perhaps the most striking fact of all is that this independent fleet is distributed amongst some 87 owners, and thamaximum number owned by any one of them is approximately-30. .
We publish with this article an interesting and,
• we believe, complete list of the names under which the vehicles are run. This may prove of considerable use to those of our readers who specialize in supplying bus fittings, or who otherwise wish to have business connection with the owners. If, in any particular instance, the address of the owners is required we will endeavour to supply this.
Some 70 per cent. of .the owners representing about 80 per cent, of the vehicles, have now been combined in the Association of London Omnibus Proprietors, Ltd.. This was formed primarily for the purpose of protecting the interests of the independent owners and to enable them to be represented as a body at any Government Committee, the Minietry of Transport or before the Commissioner of Police. The new Association emphatically disassociates itself from any suggestion that it is contemplating tanything in the nature of another combine, and it does not encroach on the methods by which its members conduct their business, although it is, of course, willing to give advice where required. Steps D52 are also being taken to secure for the members of the Association reduced rates for petrol, oil and tyres. Already it has secured advantageous terms regarding insurance. Another branch of its activities is the forming of a complete library of routes and fare boards, which will be supplied at a moderate cost.. The entrance .fee is £2 for each firm, and at present the subscription is is. per week per bus, pay able monthly. . _ In view of the difficulty sometimes experienced by the independent owner in obtaining new or alternative garage accommodation, the fact that in such cases' members are advised to consult the Association is a matter of considerable interest.
The secretary is Mr: James J. 17re, and the assistant secretary Mr. -Vernon IL, Burton, the address of the Association being-Room 18, 59-61, New Oxford Street, London, W.C.1. Many accusations were at one time hurled at the proprietors regarding the system sometimes employed of running vehicles only on the best-paying portions of certain routes and thus not giving full service to the public. However, from inquiries we have made we believe that such practices are, in the majority of cases, being discontinued, 'partiaularly by the proprietors of fairly large numbers of vehicles. They are realizing that if the sympathy and financial support of the public are to be retained it is essential that the public should be given the best possible service._ . Curtailing mules worked. by .a portion of a fleet may be justified during the slack hours of the day, but it is not satisfactory to shorten the journey of every vehicle in that fleet and, consequently, to force members of the public to change from independent buses to those operated by the Combine, for in such cases it, is only human nature for the traveller to be annoyed and to vow that next time rather (lean
change, he will take a vehicle which will carry him the whole distance without bother.
Whatever happens in connection with new laws made to cope with the problem of• congestion of traffic and bus competition, we sincerely hope that those who have been enterprising enough to invest the whole of their savings in independent buses, as has happened in many cases, will receive fair play. That something must be done in the way of restricting the number of new licences seems essential, but, providing fair tactics be employed, we believe that competition cannot in the end have ill effects, and there is no doubt that the trying-out in London of chassis of different makes will do much to assist in the development of even better vehicles than those now employed. The largest independent fleet is that run by the Cambrian Coaching Co., Ltd., and to obtain their views on the situation we recently visited MT. It. B. Venables, the manager. At present about 30 buses are running, but this number will shortly be increased. The ideal of the company is to give the best possible service to the public and to maintain the vehicles in a thorough state of repair. The whole fleet has been at the public service during the strike, running chiefly on routes No. 17 (Southall to Liverpool Street); 88 (Mitcham to Oxford Circus); 59 (Camden Town to Croydon); 34 (Liverpool Street to Croydon).
An important point is that every vehicle runs to scheduled time, and the same service is given during the day as during the rush hours, and although some of the routes necessarily have to be curtailed in the case of certain vehicles, -enough are left on them to give an adequate service. No difficulty is experienced in connection with the overhauling and repairs. An adequate works staff is always retained, and, apart from this, the company run inspection and repair motorcycles and vans.
What the smaller owners will do so far as overhauling is concerned remains, in many cases, to fse seen, but already arrangements have been made in some instances for overhauling to be done under contract with local firms, whilst some of the vehicles will be returned to the makers for the purpose.
There have been many expressions of appreciation, by travellers on .independent buses, of the courtesy they have received from the personnel, and there is no doubt that this will be duly rewarded.