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PLYMOUTH BUS SCENE 1982 - BIRTH OF PLYMOUTH CITYBUS

A look back 40 years to 1982 at the bus scene in Plymouth, a year in which Plymouth city transport launched its "Plymouth Citybus" brand. Along with a shake up of the network and introduction of zonal fare following the market analysis project. Also happening in 1982 was the last time we had double digit inflation and Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falkland islands, many Plymouth based service personnel were on the front line.

  

 January 

  Saw the council gritting lorries  kept busy with clearing the roads of snow and ice. The resulting impact on the cleanliness of the fleet is illustrated with 137 VJV 137V seen here about to depart Royal Parade on route 22 to Merafield.  1982 was also the last time Plymouth would see crew operated Atlanteans, the last route being 48 to Ford. This regularly being driven by Paul Burch. 204 DDR204D is seen on Royal Parade.

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February

 As part of the plans being drawn up later in the year as a result of the Plymouth joint services marketing analysis project. Was a scheme to radically shake up the old traditional graduated fares into 3 zonal fare stages.

 As a precursor to rolling out across the city, the city transport department undertook, between February and April a 3 month fares experiment on 3 routes  to understand passenger behaviors towards the new system.

 The routes were 45 & 46 City centre, Manadon, Brake farm, Crownhill, Derriford, Estover, Leigham, Eggbuckland, City centre circular

 Route 47   Durnford st, City centre, Efford Lane, Eggbuckland, Widey, Forder valley, Estover

 Travel within 1 zone cost 15p and increased by 15p for every boundary crossed up to a maximum 45p.

 A feature of the experiment was the issuing of multi zone tickets, these were available from adapted post office stamp issuing machines located on Royal Parade, Mutley Plain, and ASDA superstore at Estover. You could also buy them over the counter at the main co op store in the city centre or Pascoe's newsagent in Crownhill. They cost £1.50 / £1.00 concessions and obtained by inserting 50p coins. They gave travel across 12 zones at a 17.5 % discount. Passengers wishing to travel across 3 zones would insert the card 3 times to cancel 3 zones. The buses were fitted with 2 cancellors to allow 2 stream boarding, alighting being through the central exit doors. The buses selected were AN68s East Lancs bodied 136/7/9 - 42/44-47 VJV-V and some of the 148-157 ATK-W batch

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March

 In December 1981, Leyland National 65 WDR665M re-entered service after being rebuilt to DP41F for private hire work. It has an altered rear axle ratio giving it a higher cruising speed and a new private hire livery. On 16th March it was used to bring dignitaries to the Plym Valley Railway Association's Marsh Mills base to welcome the arrival of British standard 4-6-0 mixed traffic locomotive 75079 to be named "city of Plymouth" from the famous Barry scrapyard. 

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 March also saw the delivery of the only new buses in 1982. The 3 east lancs bodied Leyland Olympian fully automatic gearboxes. 172/73/74 TTT 172X - 174X. They entered service on the route 12/13 city centre St Budeaux Crownhill, city centre circular.  These would be the last Leylands delivered new for local bus work. The very last Leyland was a Leyland Tiger 349 G349 VTA with Plaxton C49FT body in 1989. 

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APRIL

 

The Falkland islands were invaded by Argentina and a task force was dispatched to retake the islands, many of the ships departing from Devonport. As a mark of solidarity with the Falkland islanders, 169 TTT169X was given the name "God bless the Falkland isles" for a short time. 169 is seen here in Lower Compton

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MAY

 

Saw the annual Lord Mayor's parade and the traditional diversion away from Royal Parade and on to New George St and Old Town St. Heading the convoy out of Old town St is PDR2  234 JJY634G.

In 1982 the network still had its routes in the pre war Tram network, which was the main reason for the Market Analysis project. One change that happened was the routing of 27/27A from Eggbuckland via Ford Park rd , Sutherland Terrace, Portland Square to West Hoe. 121 STK121T is seen exiting Portland Sq, now this area has been absorbed into the University complex

 

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June

 Saw victory for the British forces in the Falklands. Captured Argentina armaments were paraded through the city centre. An Argentinian helicopter overtakes AN68 141 VJV141V.

 A visit over the water to Torpoint see 3 western national FLF LODEKKA's at rest between school duties.

Left to Right  2072 AUO519B, 2059 BDV267C, 2054 BUO202B. Al l 3 would survive the western national split 1ST Jan 1983 to the western national LTD

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July

In 1982, bus services were still provided through the Plymouth joint service agreement, where P.C.T operated services in communities outside Plymouth and Western national ran services wholly inside the Plymouth boundary.

 Western national Bristol VR 1127 XVD607S is seen at Derry's Cross on the busy cross city service 6 Elburton to Torpoint ferry and P.C.T's first AN68 76 GDR 201N seen at Buckland Monachorum turning circle on 55A. A couple of times a day the 55A would divert via Clearbrook village on its way between Plymouth and Yelverton. 76 is seen here reversing at Clearbrook. Difficult to believe when you see Mercedes Sprinters these days, that in 1982 these routes were in the care of AN68 dual door, more suited to urban routes.   

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August.  Open Toppers to Bovisand

 Summertime means open toppers to Bovisand. 458 WJY758 "Plymouth Adventurer" is seenbetween duties at Bretonside. 458 is part of the P.C.T.P.G group and awaiting restoration. The Radio Plymouth livery had been applied the previous year. 460 WJY760 "Golden Hind" is seen arriving at Bovisand terminus and about to make a 3 point turn ready for the return trip. (we will recreate this one day)

 

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Exeter St

Plymouth's road network continues to evolve to meet the needs of the travelling public. Back in 1982 the emphasis was still in accommodating cars and Exeter st was in the midst of being widened at the junction of Sutton rd. This involved the demolition of the Jubilee inn and the Burton Boys public house

 WN Bristol VR 1130 XDV600S makes its way through the road works on service 93 from Dartmouth 

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September  Manadon roundabout

A major road project happening through the 1980s was the building of new A38 parkway from Marsh Mills to the Tamar bridge, replacing the old A38 route through forder valley and Crownhill and St Budeaux. In 1982 a major part of the project was the construction of a 3 level intersection with the A386 at manadon. These 3 photos taken looking north towards Crownhill

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Getting ready for the outcome of the marketing analysis project and launch of Plymouth CityBus

 

 A major shake up of Plymouth's network was going to happen on the 26th October with a new brand name of "Plymouth CityBus", a brand name still used today 40 years later. Back in 1982 the strap lineused"the easiest bus in Britain", with aims of improving every aspect of bus travel in the Plymouth Joint services operating area including those of Western National.

 During 1981 P.C.T employed consultants to carry out Market analysis project of all Plymouth joint services where 130,000 survey records of bus journeys made plus 5000 suggestions for further improvements to be made.

 Following this intensive market research, routes were improved, timetable altered and fares restructured with a new range of tickets and passes. Plymouth became the 4th city in the U.K to adopt the zonal fare system, with it split into 3 areas, City, Mid, Outer. Bus stop flags had red, yellow, or green stripes applied to indicate which zone.

 The most visible changes to the fleet were the changing of destination blinds and intermediate points using a new style type face and the introduction of a new livery with the cream extended blow the lower deck window and an upswept line towards the rear. This livery was quickly applied to the fleet already carrying the standard livery of cream roof and lower deck windows. these carried the new livery but without the giant "Plymouth citybus" logo, these were applied nearer to the 26th Oct launch date. We therefore see a number of buses around with the intermediate livery including WN Bristol VR 1198 LFJ842W in Green and white variant on Royal Parade. PDR 2 263 MCO263H seen in Compton Vale on service 9, AN68 92 LTK92R in Bretonside having done the circular route of Shaugh bridge, Lee moor and Cornwood, East Lancs AN68 169, TTT169X now renamed "Lady Nancy Astor" on western approach.  

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Leyland Nationals

 As a result of the M.A.P survey, the peak vehicle requirement would be reduced as the number of buses needed to cover duplicates and specials would be less. As a result non standard buses would be reduced or try to remove entirely. This would include the few remaining of the 60 strong Leyland Nationals from the early 1970s. Here we see for a change the rear view of 71 WDR671M in Compton Vale on route 8. Another type that was to be withdrawn was the non power steering JJY-G PDR2, but we will see in part 3 this would be wishful thinking

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Former Western National LH6Ls

 Further thwarting of the standardization of P.C.T was the curious episode of some elderly former Bristol Lhs from Western National turning up at Milehouse in NBC green. This was tied up in ongoing 1942 Plymouth joint services agreement where 80% of revenue within the city boundary went to P.C.T and 20% to WN and outside the city boundary the opposite happened. With the M.A.P route changes proposed that routes passing WN Laira Bridge garage would be operated by Western national with P.C.T running the remainder. 

 Therefore the proposed route 79 city centre Milehouse Torpoint ferry service would be operated by P.C.T but they hadn't the suitable type of vehicle. As WN owed P.C.T from their share of the PJS agreement, P.C.T would take 6 LHs in lieu of payment. Here we see parked in the petrol shed 1583 VOD114K still carrying Cornish fairways fleet names and a smashed windscreen. This would become number 18 and enter service on 58/59 circular on 30th Nov

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Helvetica Light is an easy-to-read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site.

The M.A.P network launched on the 24th oct 1982 along with the new brand name Plymouth Citybus, still in use 40years later. Then it was marketed as "the easiest bus in Britian". To restructure the whole network of routes, timetables and fares was probably a step too many for a single day.

 Although the zonal fare MAP experiment in February proved successful enough to introduce a 3 zone system, the multi zone tickets and onboard cancellers were not carried forward and abandoned. 

 Plymouth became the 4th city to adopt the zonal fare model, fares being 25p, 35p and 45p for 1,2 and 3 zone journeys respectively. Zonal fare when considering its disadvantages of high fares for a short journey, was considered the easiest way to pay fares. Simple to remember and saved time when boarding the bus. All the bus stops had coloured vinyls added. Red, yellow and green for city, mid and outer zones.

 On the 23rd oct, the day before what some people called the revolution, most of the buses already painted in the latest livery of red with cream roof and lower windows had had the cream extended below the windows and the new "citybus " logos applied.

 256 MCO 256H is seen in Ebrington st on the route 24. It had only had the extended cream painted on leaving the rest of the bus in its existing scuffy livery. The 23/24 would be one of the longstanding route that would disappear the next day

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 235 JJY 635G is seen on western approach heading to Royal Parade on the 23 before continuing to Mount Gould, still carrying the maroon and cream livery applied in December 1979.  224 JJY624G is seen on Derry's cross still in the red and cream livery it received in 1978. Running on another historical route that ceased the next day, 12/13 city centre- St Budeaux- Crownhill circular  

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Buses that still wore various older liveries did not receive the extended cream or logos until their next scheduled repaint and vehicles earmarked for early withdrawal did not get to receive the new livery just like 224 and 235. 

 224 and 235 can also be distinguished that they were going to be withdrawn that day, 23rd, because they did not get new MAP blinds, but carried the old PCT blinds.

 The fleet changes due to MAP resulted in the last crew operated Atlantean 202 DDR 202C withdrawn. 

Most of the remaining Leyland Nationals 68-72,74 and 75 were also withdrawn, leaving only 60-62, dual purpose 65 and 73 being converted to a mobility bus in service 

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The plan had been to withdraw most of the PDR2s without power steering up to 244. 221 and 230 had received a new repaint back in the summer, so were retained. One of the problems in the early days of MAP was over crowding on the more recognisable unchanged routes, so many PDR2s were kept in service.

 224/6/32/36-38/40/1/3 were withdrawn in November 1982. 222/3/5/7/33-35/9/42/4 were withdrawn in January 1983. 228,229 and 231 were retained and painted in the new citybus livery. These were finally withdrawn in March 1984. 231 with its PCT old style blinds survived until June 1986 and the oldest original PDR2 221 was the last to run in service until September 1986

 

 The service 44 Ernesettle to Whitleigh via city centre was one route to survive unchanged, 127 STK127T still in the red and cream that it was delivered in back in 1979 is seen on Derry's cross heading out to Ernesettle

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The weather was wet and windy on the 1st day of services, 24th oct and so not the best for photography 157 ATK157W is seen at St Budeaux. The route 15 was a new route connecting Mount Gould - city centre - Kings Tamerton and St Budeaux

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The weekday service began on Mon 25th and the first real test of the network. Milehouse phonelines were jammed with customer enquires and the printed timetable leaflets soon ran out. 

 123 STK123T still in pre MAP livery is seen on the 25th at Lower Compton on the new route 45 city centre - Lower Compton - Austin Farm - Leigham - Derriford - West Park - St Budeaux 

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76 GDR201N is seen on the new route 39 on Mutley Plain with incorrectly set blinds. This route terminated on Torr Lane behind Farleys rusk factory. Sad to think in 2022 the current 39 to Torr alne has been scrapped due to council funding cuts

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At the end of 1982 227 JJY627G is seen on the viaduct and Leyland National 60 UCO60L at Milehouse. The only 1 from the 1973 batch to survive and out lasted the others by 6 to 9 years, being withdrawn in 1986

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The Bristol LHS acquired from Western National earlier in the year entered service on the less busy city routes and country routes. Carrying the "countrybus" logo, 19 NFJ592M is seen in Bretonside on the 20A short run to Laira roundabout

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Another event in 1982 was the public open day at Trathens new depot at Roborough house on 4th December. A view in December of Milehouse depot shows the fleet in transition with a mixture of liveries from pre 1979 red and cream 1979-80 maroon and 1980s cream red. The line up shows some 1969 PDR2s withdrawn the month before, PDR1 202 the last crew Atlantean, a few de licenced Nationals and Bristol LHS clearly already out of service

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