Reading Transport Ltd. Slogan "Quality travel for Reading"
"Delivering Transport Excellence"
Parent Reading Borough Council Founded 31 October 1901
( 110 years, 23 days)
Headquarters Reading Service area Berkshire Service type Urban and rural services Routes 92 Destinations Reading, Newbury Fleet Approximately 180 in total
Scania L94/Wright Solar
Scania N230UD/Darwen Olympus
ADL Enviro400 Hybrid
Fuel type Diesel And Hybrid Chief executive James Freeman Web site reading-buses.co.uk
Reading Transport Ltd is a bus operator serving the towns of Reading, Newbury and the surrounding area in the English county of Berkshire. The company is wholly owned by Reading Borough Council and operates under the brands Reading Buses, Newbury Buses and Goldline Travel. As such, it is one of the few remaining municipal bus companies in the UK.
The history of the company and its predecessors dates back to 1878. Previous incarnations have been variously known as the Reading Tramways Company and Reading Corporation Tramways, and have been legally constituted both as companies and as departments of Reading Borough Council and its predecessors.
Reading Transport operates public service buses under the Reading Buses brand throughout the town of Reading, and to a lesser extent in the rural area around Reading. Most of the urban routes have been branded as Premier Routes, with each route or group of routes allocated a distinctive colour. These colours are used on the buses used on that route, and also on maps and other publicity. Premier routes provide a weekday daytime frequency of between 2 and 8 buses per hour, depending on the route.
One longer distance rural route is branded as a Vitality Route, using specially liveried red and silver buses and operating at a weekday daytime frequency of 2 buses per hour. Other routes, including non-vitality rural routes and non-premier urban routes, operate at lower frequency, varying from several buses a day to two buses an hour. They are allocated a grey colour in maps and publicity, and are currently operated by a mixture of vehicles in a new silver based fleet colour scheme similar to that used on the premier routes, together with vehicles in various previous colour schemes.
Reading Buses also operates the NightTrack network under contract to Reading Borough Council. These services run on their own routes from from 23:45 until late into the night. Premier route 17 also operates at these times, but all other routes finish by then.
Premier routes Number Route Notes Image 5 Reading - Whitley - Northumberland Avenue 6 Reading - Baskingstoke Road - Whitley Wood 9 Reading - Royal Berkshire Hospital - Shinfield Road - Whitley Wood - Shinfield 11 Reading - Coley Park 13 Reading - Bulmershe - Woodley - Woodley Green - Woodley Airfield 14 Reading - Shepherds Hill - Woodley - Colemansmoor Lane 15 Reading - Dee Park - Tilehurst - Tilehurst Triangle 16 Reading - Kentwood - Overdown Road - Purley 17 Tilehurst - Oxford Road - Reading - Wokingham Road - Three Tuns First premier route, Electric hybrid buses on this route 20 Reading - University Whiteknights Campus - Beech Lane - Lower Earley Electric hybrid buses on this route 20A Reading - University Whiteknights Campus - Silverdale Road - Lower Earley Electric hybrid buses on this route 21 Reading - University Whiteknights Campus - Elm Lane - Lower Earley Electric hybrid buses on this route 22 Reading - Caversham Library - Caversham Heights Through working with service 23 23 Reading - Henley Road - Caversham Park - Emmer Green Through working with services 22 & 24 24 Reading - Caversham Library - Emmer Green Through working with service 23 26 Reading - Southcote - Fords Farm - Beansheaf - Calcot Electric hybrid buses on this route 33 Reading - Meadway - Tilehurst - Turnhams Farm Other urban routes Number Route Notes Image 18 Caversham Heights - Reading - Norcot - Kentwood - Tilehurst - Calcot Saturdays only 19 Reading - Royal Berkshire Hospital - University Whiteknights Campus - University Bulmershe Campus - Woodley - Lower Earley (ASDA) 27/29 Reading - Caversham - Lower Caversham - Amersham Road 28 Caversham Heights - Reading - Tilehurst - Kentwood - Westwood Glen - Purley Monday - Friday only 40 Reading - St Mary's Butts - Kennet Island Rural routes Number Route Notes Image 2 Peppard Common - Reading - Burghfield Common - Mortimer A Vitality route 82A Reading - Three Mile Cross - Spencers Wood - Swallowfield - Riseley Evenings (to Riseley) and Sundays (to Swallowfield) only. Monday to Saturday daytime service operated by Fleet Buzz. Nighttrack routes Number Route Notes Image N5 Reading - Whitley - Northumberland Avenue Continues as an N6 N6 Whitley Wood - Baskingstoke Road - Reading Starts as an N5 N9 Reading - Royal Berkshire Hospital - Shinfield N14 Woodley - Bulmershe - Reading Starts as an N21 N21 Reading - University - Elm Lane - Lower Earley Continues as an N14 N23 Reading - Henley Road - Emmer Green - Caversham Park Continues as an N24 N24 Caversham - Henley Road - Reading Starts as an N23 N26 Reading - Southcote - Fords Farm - Southcote - Theale N33 Reading - Dee Park Special routes for sporting events Number Route Notes Image 70 Sonning Common - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 71/71A Emmer Green - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 72/72B Woodley - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 72A Twyford - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 73 Lower Earley - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 74 Caversham Park - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 74A Henley-on-Thames - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 75 Purley - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 75A Pangbourne - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 76/76A Tilehurst - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 77 Shinfield and Park and ride shuttle - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 78 Newbury - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only 79 Reading railway station - Madejski Stadium Reading F.C. match days only
Reading Transport operated public service buses in the town of Newbury until August 2011 and the surrounding rural area under the Newbury Buses brand. Two routes are branded using the same Vitality Route brand that is used by Reading Buses, and provide weekday daytime frequencies of 2 buses per hour. Another longer distance route, to Basingstoke, was jointly operated with Stagecoach in Hampshire and branded as The Link.
The Newbury Buses brand withdrawal from all commercial and tendered work in the Newbury area meant the majority of work passing to Newbury & District (the trading name for Weavaway Travel's bus services). The Newbury Buses half of The Link is now operated by Stagecoach in Hampshire on a revised timetable to reflect the Stagecoach depot being in Basingstoke.
Newbury Buses do retain responsiblity for a network of contracted services for Vodafone, who have their worldwide headquarters in the town. These utilise a number of red-liveried Scania OmniCitys, and two MAN A22/Wright Meridians, and are reserved for Vodafone employees.
Route 1 was subcontracted to Weavaway Travel in 2011, using several Alexander Dennis Enviro400s, which are owned by Weavaway but are in a route branded version of Reading Buses livery and are on the Reading fleet system. Additional Enviro400s owned by Weavaway in an allover black livery are also able to be used on route 1.
Public routes Number Route Notes Image 1 Newbury - Turnpike - West Berkshire Hospital - Thatcham - A4 - Reading A Vitality route. Branded as 'Jet Black' 6 Newbury - East Ilsley via Hermitage and Chievely Circular with 6A Vodafone Contract Number Route Notes Image V1 Express Rail Link: HQ - Newbury town centre - rail station V2 Business Flyer: HQ - Newbury business park - Horizon West V3 Lunchtime Shuttle: HQ - Town centre V4 Lunchtime Shuttle: Business park - Horizon West - Town centre V5 Rail Link: Business park - Horizon West - Town centre - Rail station - Business park - Horizon West V6 Rail Link: HQ - Rail station V7 North Newbury Commuter Service: Speen - Shaw - Business park V8 South Newbury Commuter Service: Penwood - Woolton - Wash Common - HQ - Business park
- Horizon West
V9 Greenham Commuter Service: Greenham - Horizon West - Business park - HQ V10 Thatcham Commuter Service: Thatcham (Anti-clockwise) - Business park - HQ V11 Thatcham Commuter Service: Thatcham (Clockwise) - Business park - HQ V12 HQ Peak Shuttle: Bus Station - Northbrook Street - HQ
Reading Transport uses the Goldline Travel brand for its non-public service bus operations, including services operated under contract for various local employers. Goldline Travel is also responsible for the operation of Fastrack and Daytrack park and ride services and Nighttrack night bus services, all of which are operated under contract to Reading Borough Council. The private hire section has now been ended.
Goldline Travel has a two-tone green colour scheme. However most Goldline Travel services are operated by vehicles in colour schemes specified by the contracting organisation, and are therefore not easily identified as such. These include Fastrack park and ride services, and services operated on behalf of Thames Valley Park in Reading.
Unlike bus services run by Reading Buses, Goldine give change on their routes. This is mainly for the benefit of visitors who are more likely to use routes such as park and ride than city routes.
In February 2009, the private hire services run by Goldline ceased, and the coaches were all sold.
Public routes run under contract Number Route Notes Image 51/52/53 Reading - Green Park Business Park GreenPark fasttrack 142 Checkendon - Woodcote - Pangbourne - Reading For Oxfordshire County Council 500 Loddon Bridge park and ride site - Reading Fasttrack park and ride service Private routes run under contract Number Route Notes Image TVP Thames Valley Park: Reading - Thames Valley Park Free service for anybody having legitimate business at Thames Valley Park TW Thames Water: Reading - Rose Kiln Court or Gainsborough House Service for Thames Water employees HP Hewlett-Packard: Bracknell railway station - HP Cain Road Service for Hewlett Packard employees
Horse tram era
The origins of Reading Transport can be traced back to 1878, when the privately owned Reading Tramways Company (part of the Imperial Tramways Company) was formed. They were initially authorised to construct and operate a horse tram route on an east-west alignment from Oxford Road through Broad Street in the town centre to Cemetery Junction. Significantly, this route formed the core of what became known as the main line of the tram and trolleybus network.
Construction started in January 1879, with the entire line being open by May. A fleet of six single decked cars were initially used, with 31 horses, providing a 20-minute frequency. The cars operated from a depot on the south side of the Oxford Road, immediately to the east of Reading West railway station. By the 1890s the whole fleet had been replaced by double decked cars operating at a 10 minute frequency. The company made several proposals to extend the system, add routes and electrify the system. But none of these came to anything, and in 1899 the borough corporation decided to purchase the system.
The purchase deal was completed on 31 October 1901, and the Reading Corporation Tramways came into being. The corporation set out about first extending, and then electrifying the system. The extensions were completed by December 1902, and the last horse cars ran in July of the following year.
Electric tram era
The new electric trams started operating in July 1903. Extensions were constructed to the Wokingham Road and London Road (both from Cemetery Junction), and new routes added to Whitley, Caversham Road, Erleigh Road and Bath Road. The trams operated from a new depot in Mill Lane, a site that was to remain Reading Transport's main depot until it was demolished to make way for The Oracle shopping mall in 1998.
The electric tram services were originally operated by 30 four-wheeled double decked cars supplied by Dick, Kerr & Co. In 1904, six bogie cars and a water car (used for keeping down the dust on the streets) were added to the fleet, also from Dick, Kerr & Co. No further trams were acquired, and a planned extension from the Caversham Road terminus across Caversham Bridge to Caversham itself was abandoned because of the outbreak of World War I. The war also led to a significant maintenance backlog.
In 1919, Reading Corporation started operating its first motor buses. These ran from Caversham Heights to Tilehurst, running over the tram lines and beyond the tram termini. Because of the state of the track, the Bath Road tram route was abandoned in 1930, followed by the Erleigh Road route in 1932. Eventually it was decided that the tramways should be abandoned and replaced by trolleybuses, operating over extended routes. The last tram ran on the Caversham Road to Whitley route in July 1936, and last car on the main line ran in May 1939.
The first trolleybus wiring erected was a training loop on Erleigh Road, which opened in early 1936. This loop was never used in public service, and was subsequently dismantled. Public service commenced on 18 July 1936, on a route replacing the tram route from Caversham Road to Whitley Street. In May 1939, the remaining tram routes from Oxford Road to Wokingham Road and London Road were converted to trolleybus operation, with a short extension from Wokingham Road to the Three Tuns, and a much longer extension from the Oxford Road through the centre of Tilehurst to the Bear Inn. The extended main line from the Three Tuns to the Bear, still exists today as bus route 17, the town's busiest and most frequent route, and the first to be designated a premier route.
During World War II a trolleybus branch was constructed from the Oxford Road to Kentwood Hill, enabling trolleybuses to replace motor buses with a consequential saving in precious oil based fuel. In 1949 the Whitley Street line was extended to Whitley Wood and Northumberland Avenue and a short branch was built to Reading General station. Subsequent short extensions took the system to its full extent, with the Kentwood route running to Armour Hill and the Northumberland Avenue line running to the junction with Whitley Wood Road.
By 1965, most UK trolleybus systems had closed, and the manufacturers of the overhead equipment gave notice that they would cease production. At the same time the trolleybuses came in for some bad publicity in the local press because they cost more to operate compared to motor buses and they were inflexible, even though the trolleybuses were profitable (Reading's motor buses made a loss), faster and less polluting. Reading Corporation decided to abandon the trolleybus system, and the routes were phased out between January 1967 and November 1968.
Expansion and competition
The Transport Act 1980 deregulated long distance bus services. Reading Transport took advantage of this new freedom to start a service from Reading through London to Southend. The service was numbered X1 and was run jointly with Southend Transport. In 1982 the X1 was shortened to run from Reading to Aldgate in East London, under the Gold Line brand, and joint operation ceased.
As a result of the legislation that accompanied the deregulation of local bus services in 1986, the operations of Reading Transport were transferred to Reading Transport Ltd, an "arms length" company whose shares were held by Reading Borough Council. Bus deregulation also meant that the local authority no longer had any power to regulate the routes and fares of Reading Transport, nor could they prevent other operators from starting competitive services within the borough.
In 1992 Reading Transport acquired the Reading and Newbury operations of BeeLine, one of the privatised successors to the state-owned Alder Valley. These acquisitions led to Reading Transport operating buses in Newbury, and in the rural areas around Reading and Newbury, for the first time. Additionally, BeeLine had operated a Reading to London service under the LondonLink name, and that was merged into the Gold Line service and the resulting service renamed London Line. The Gold Line name was retained for use by Reading Transport's non-scheduled service business. The London Line service ceased in 2000.
Reading Transport faced competition on Reading urban routes from 1994, when Reading Mainline, an independent company, started operations with Routemaster buses acquired from London. But labour shortages created problems for the competitor, and Reading Transport acquired Reading Mainline in 1998. Reading Transport continued to operate the Routemasters under the Reading Mainline brand until they were finally withdrawn in July 2000.
Premier and vitality routes
Since 2004, Reading Transport and Reading Borough Council have made a significant investment in upgrading the quality of Reading's main urban bus routes. In autumn of that year, Reading Buses introduced its first branded Premier Route in the form of the number 17, running between the Three Tuns on Wokingham Road and the Bear Inn at Tilehurst via the town centre and Oxford Road, and the linear descendent of the old main line. This was intended as the first in a series of such routes, each providing a weekday daytime frequency of between 3 and 8 buses per hour. Each premier route, or group of routes, would be allocated a distinctive colour, to be used used on the buses on that route, and also on maps and other publicity.
Since then the premier route concept has been rolled out on most of Reading's urban routes. In April 2009, a similar concept was introduced to some of Reading Transports longer distance rural routes. These were rebranded as Vitality Routes, using specially branded green and silver or red and silver buses.
Reading Transport has a history of experimenting with biofuels, including biodiesel and alcohol fuel. By 2008, all but one of Reading's bus fleet was fuelled by a mix of 5% biodiesel and 95% conventional diesel.
In late 2007, Reading Buses placed an order with Scania for 14 new ethanol fuelled double decker buses to replace the existing fleet of biodiesel powered vehicles operating premier route 17. At the time the order was placed, this was the largest order for ethanol fuelled buses in the UK. These buses started work on 26 May 2008.
In October 2009, it was discovered that instead of the bio-ethanol fuel having been sourced from sugar beet grown in the English county of Norfolk (as had been advertised), it was actually made from wood pulp imported from Sweden. On learning this Reading Borough councillors launched an investigation into how they and the Reading Transport Board – which runs Reading Buses – could have been deceived. All the ethanol-powered buses have since been converted to run on the same bio-diesel mix as the rest of the fleet.
- List of bus companies in the United Kingdom
- ^ "Home page". Reading Transport Ltd. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- ^ "Fleet list". Reading Transport Ltd. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/files/documents/Fleet%20lists/Fleet%20list%20July%2009.pdf. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- ^ "Reading Buses, Newbury Buses & Goldline Fleet List" (Excel). Bus Zone. http://www.buszone.co.uk/RTLfleet.xls. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- ^ a b c "Reading Buses - Premier routes". Reading Transport Ltd. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/quality-routes/. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- ^ a b "NightTrack". Reading Borough Council. http://www.reading-travelinfo.co.uk/TravelInformation/BusServices/NightTrack-nightbuses/index?ID=SXCDF3-A77F5BA9. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- ^ a b "Reading bus map". Reading Transport Ltd. 2010-01. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/files/images/Map%20images/Network%20map%20for%20WEB%20Jan%202010.pdf. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- ^ a b c "Timetables (including route details) - from 6th September 2010". Reading Transport Ltd. 2010-09-06. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/service-route-details-from-sept-2010/. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- ^ a b "Changes to Services". Reading Transport Ltd. 2010-10-25. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/articles/changes-to-services/. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- ^ "Reading Football bus map". Reading Transport Ltd. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/files/maps/MAP%20NH%20FINAL%20copy%20smaller.pdf. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- ^ Bus Zone - Updates May 2008 Accessed 29 May 2008
- ^ a b c "Reading Horse Tramways". Bus Zone. http://www.buszone.co.uk/RTLhorse.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- ^ a b c "Reading Corporation Tramways / Transport". Bus Zone. http://www.buszone.co.uk/RTLtram.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- ^ a b c d "Reading Corporation Transport - Trolleybuses". Bus Zone. http://www.buszone.co.uk/RTLtrolley.html. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- ^ "The X1 Story". SCT61 and Richard Delahoy. 2003-4. http://www.sct61.org.uk/stxone.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- ^ "Reading Mainline". Bus Zone. http://www.buszone.co.uk/RMainline.html. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- ^ "Bus in the Countryside 2009". The Bus Industry Awards Limited. http://www.ukbusawards.org.uk/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=317&Itemid=74. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- ^ "All aboard the bio-diesel buses". Reading Evening Post. 2007-03-08. http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/2008/2008369/all_aboard_the_biodiesel_buses. Retrieved 2007-11-26. [dead link]
- ^ Thorne, Lucy (2008-05-01). "Bus fare hike looms as fuel prices rocket". Reading Chronicle. http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/articles/1/1351. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- ^ "Public Meeting on Climate Change". Friends of the Earth. 2007-10-23. http://www.readingfoe.org.uk/Campaigns/PublicMeeting/index.html. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- ^ "Reading Transport places UK's largest ever order for ethanol-powered buses". Scania. http://www.scania.co.uk/about_scania/pressreleases/reading_transport_places_uks_largest_ever_order_for_ethanol_powered_buses.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- ^ Mbubaegbu, Chine (2008-05-22). "New 24-hour green bus service on road". Reading Evening Post. http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2028691_new_24hour_green_bus_service_on_road. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- ^ "Reading Buses - Route 17". Reading Transport. http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/route17/. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
- ^ "Red light for 'green' bio-ethanol buses". local newspaper. http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2059012_red_light_for_green_bioethanol_buses. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- Reading Buses web site
- Newbury Buses web site
- Goldline web site
- Page on Reading Transport from Bus Zone enthusiast site
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