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June 2004
The Routemaster was invented for London, and apart from a handful operated by Northern General on Tyneside, all lived and worked in the capital.   However in the brave new world that was created by Deregulation in 1986, the opportunity was taken by many operators in the wilds of Britain to buy these London workhorses.   They were used chiefly in competitive situations, but once bus services had settled down again, their purpose evaporated.   Soon their time will be up in London as well.
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Post de-regulation Glasgow brought about a rash of new services.   These were operated by the usual minibuses and the not so usual former London Routemasters.   Clydeside were the largest operator (above left) with over 80, followed by Kelvin (above right) who had 40 examples.   Strathtay too felt the wind of competition in Perth (right) and Dundee from local operator Stagecoach and were forced to compete head-on with Routemasters. strathtay-sr3-wts329a-perth-dec89.JPG (51952 bytes) strathtay-sr19-vlt221-perth-dec86.JPG (34589 bytes)
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Stagecoach were one of the biggest exponents of Routemasters.   They employed them in Glasgow on a new operation called Magicbus (above left) that served the Easterhouse and Castlemilk housing estates.   Other group companies such as Cumberland (above right), United Counties and East Midland also operated them.
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Routemasters were popular in the provinces particularly with former municipal operators.   Blackpool (above right), Burnley & Pendle, Southampton, and Southend (right) all ran them for a period in the mid 1980's.   Other companies such as East Yorkshire (above), Liverline in Liverpool,  and Verwood Transport from Bournemouth were also supporters.   Fuelled by the oxygen of deregulation, many of the vehicles ran in direct competition with either incumbent operators or new startups.   By the early 1990's most had gone, with Reading Mainline (very top) being one of the last to start in 1994 and to finish in 1998. southend-109-183clt-dec92.JPG (47616 bytes)
  Red Ones  
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Some operators just placed Routemasters in service in LT red livery such as Southampton (left) who were in competition with Solent Blue Line and GM Buses (above) who were competing on the route from Piccadilly to West Didsbury with anyone who owned a bus and fancied making some fast cash.
  London Too  
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rm4109-183clt-redhill-aug94.JPG (38228 bytes) There were some unusual operators and liveries in London as well.   Kentish Bus operated the (19) Finsbury Park to Battersea Bridge route (above right) using RM's painted in their distinctive maroon and cream colours.   Capital Citybus, owned by Citybus of Hong Kong, painted an RM into their standard bright yellow livery (above left).   London & Country also applied their rather smart two-tone green livery to this RM (left), which coincidentally is the same vehicle as at Southend above.   Nowadays all vehicles running on TfL (Transport for London) contracts have to use red vehicles.
Routemasters in the Wild
Click to enlarge photos.
Photo Facts (from top to bottom)
Routemasters at Reading Mainline depot in August 1997.
Clydeside JC15 (VLT73) at Buchanan bus station in Glasgow in September 1989 on service to Johnstone.
Kelvin Scottish WLT415 and WLT606 behind Argyll St in Glasgow on the newly created (5A) Faifley to Easterhouse service in September 1986.
Strathtay SR3 (WTS329A) wearing Perth City Transport livery in Perth in December 1989.
Strathtay SR19 (VLT221) in one of two variations of normal Strathtay livery in Perth in December 1986.
Magicbus 602DYE at the St. Enochs centre in Glasgow in September 1986.
Cumberland 907 (WLT824) in Carlisle in March 1988.
East Yorkshire 805 (41CLT) in Hull bus station in March 1990.
Blackpool 529 (ALD966B) looking particularly smart in Blackpool in April 1992.
Southend 109 (183CLT) in the bus station on a golden December day in 1992.
Southampton 404 (ALM37B) in Southampton in August 1987 at the height of the competition with Solent Blue Line.
GM Buses RM2202 (776DYE) in Manchester Piccadilly in September 1986.
Capital Citybus RM429 (XMD81A) in January 1993.
Kentish Bus RM2574 (JJD574D) at Finsbury Park in January 1993.
London & Country RM4109 (183CLT) at Redhill in August 1994.
Routemaster Vehicle History
Route 19 History
Routemaster operators in the UK
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