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Bus Service Matters

The Rushden Echo, 22nd February 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Bid to change bus services

The East Midland Area Traffic Commissioners, sitting at Northampton on Tuesday, heard applications from the United Counties Omnibus Company and Birch Bros (London) Ltd for alterations to existing services. The United Counties’ three applications were contested by Birch Bros, whose request for permission to change its M1 service was counter-challenged by the United Counties.

The United Counties, represented by Mr. Samuel Gibbons, applied for changes in their Nottingham – London motorway service, and the express links from Irthlingborough and Corby which join the first service at Northampton.

Birch Bros., on whose behalf Mr. D. L. McDonnell appeared, asked for permission to change its Rushden – London M1 service so that duplicate coaches could operate from Rushden, via Irchester, Wollaston joining the motorway at Newport Pagnell.

Shorter Route

Mr. Gibbons told the commissioners that there could be no legitimate objection to his clients’ proposals, as their introduction would not harm any other operators. The company wanted to change its service so that the coaches from Corby and Irthlingborough could carry on directly to London by a shorter route.

He said that nine miles would be saved on the new route, in addition to five minutes waiting for connections. He felt that if passengers wanted to travel direct to London, and there were enough of them to fill a coach there was no reason why they should not.

United Counties’ traffic manager, Mr. Kenneth Welman, said the proposed new services could carry pre-booked passengers as well as those who wished to travel at the last minute. Their introduction was in the public interest.

Mr. McDonnell, however, claimed that the company was, in fact, trying to introduce a new route in the guise of asking for a variation to an old one. The United Counties were trying to marry two unsuccessful feeder services into a new service – and this should require a fresh licence and the necessary authorisation.

Time Factor

Presenting Birch’s application Mr. McDonnell explained that the alternative journey would save 15 minutes on the existing trip, and would mean an extra 11 minutes on the M1, which was designed for fast traffic. There would be no need for the firm’s coaches to pass through Bedford or use narrow roads.

Mr. Peter Birch assistant manager of the company, said that if the application was granted the duplicate service would be operated according to passengers’ needs, which would be judged by inspectors. Few potential passengers would be affected by the change and a substantial number would benefit as most travelled between the two terminals; Rushden and London.

Mr. Gibbons argued that operating half-empty coaches on the route would not be practical. His clients feared that, at some time in the future, Birch’s would want to extend their licence so that the coaches could stop on the route to pick up passengers.

The commissioners will announce their decisions later.

The Rushden Echo, 19th June 1964, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Pensioners Boggle at 2s a Mile

Residents in Rose Avenue, Rushden, are having to pay a fare equal to about two shillings a mile for the “privilege” of riding an extra 150 yards on the local bus.

This apparent gross travesty of justice came to light this week, after “Mr. Cobbler” exposed one anomaly in the fare structure of the United Counties Omnibus Company.

The service in question this time is the town bus, numbers 445 and 446. The service picks up at The Lightstrung and travels via St. Margarets Avenue to Boundary Avenue, through Rose Avenue, Westfield Avenue and Coronation Avenue.

To travel from The Lightstrung to the first stop in Rose Avenue, a distance of half a mile, costs two pence – the minimum fare.

From there to the second stop in Rose Avenue is a distance of about 150 yards, and the fare goes up to five pence. For that price a passenger can go right to the end of the run, another mile away.

It seems once you are past the first stop in Rose Avenue you are on a five penny minimum trip, whether you travel another yard or 1,760 yards.

Hardest hit are the elderly persons trying to make the old age pension stretch to meet their needs. Understandably, they are most annoyed.

Rather than pay the extra three pence, pensioners get off at the first stop in Rose Avenue, though four who told us they did just this, live quite near the second stop.

Mr. James Kerr, 54 Rose Avenue, is disabled. He cannot walk for more than a quarter of an hour without having a rest, .he cannot work, has to live on a pension, and is 64-years-old.

“I like to go into town occasionally but it is ridiculous to charge an extra three pence just to go on to the next stop. A penny would be reasonable,” he said.

Mrs. Violet Greenwood, who is 65, lives at 45 Talbot Road, at the junction with Rose Avenue, near the second stop. She has difficulty in walking any distance, but the financial factor precludes her from saving her legs.

New Stage

Seventy-six year-old Mrs. Mary Dodson, 59 Rose Avenue, and Mr. H. W. Tebbutt, 43 Rose Avenue, had almost the same things to say.

A spokesman for the United Counties said it had arisen because of the recent fare increases. The company was aware of it and he thought that an extra fare stage should be made on the route. This would presumably make the fare to the second stop from The Lightstrung three pence or four pence.

But he added: “This is under consideration.”

The Rushden Echo, 20th December 1968, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Row Over Bus Service That Isn’t

People are complaining again about the United Counties Omnibus Company’s 447 service – or rather the lack of the service – which operates between Rushden’s largest private housing estate and the town centre.

There have been complaints in the past about the service not operating on its scheduled timetable and the latest comes from John Slee, publicity officer of Rushden Amenities Society, who lives on Home Farm Estate – the estate the service caters for.

Mr. Slee said this week that several people, including some elderly people, were left stranded – waiting for a bus which did not arrive. On Monday the same thing happened again.

In fact one person, a housewife suffering from a heart complaint, was left to struggle home carrying a load of parcels

Mr. Slee said the person concerned had been told by her doctor not to walk up the slope of Hall Avenue and that was why she waited for the bus.

By the time the woman arrived home she was nearly exhausted and feeling quite unwell.

Mr. Slee added that not only were there complaints about the service being taken off on occasions, he has also heard of cases where buses had passed people waiting at stops.


“I have every sympathy with the bus crews at this time of the year, particularly the conductors, but there is no excuse for passing people who are waiting,” he said.

A spokesman for the Northampton headquarters of the company admitted that a complaint about the service had been received.

He explained that all services, as far as it was at all possible were covered on paper 24 hours in advance. To deal with last minute emergencies they even had standby crews available.

However, the company, like bus companies all over the country were suffering from a staff shortage. Sometimes through sickness or other reasons a driver could not addend work and possible reorganisation or alterations had to be made at the last minute.


He emphasised that such decisions were made at the very last possible minute and whenever a service was deleted it was because it was completely unavoidable.

He refuted any suggestion that the 447 service was the first to suffer on the grounds that it was not economic.

He said the question of economics did not enter in to it. Every attempt was made to cause the minimum of inconvenience and they always had to rely on the co-operation of the bus crews – a co-operation which was invariably given.

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