If you live near Weston-super-Mare you will already have heard that Crosville Motor Services is to close in April. Although it is a dark cloud, it does have a silver lining.
It wouldn’t be right for me to go into detail here but, in a nutshell, Crosville has been struggling to survive financially for some time as costs have risen and subsidies have been cut. Even scaling back considerably last year didn’t produce enough savings to make the company viable.
Town services 100 (Sand Bay) and 106 (Worlebury) will be withdrawn, school contracts will end and private hire coaches will no longer run. I have been involved in all but the 106 recently and I am grateful to Crosville for giving me work in these areas as well as looking after the heritage side of the business.
The silver lining? The heritage buses will continue to run, as will the two Land Trains on Weston seafront, with yours truly involved as before. At this early stage nothing is 100% certain but Crosville has stated that these two elements of the business will continue after being transferred to another company in the JJP Holdings group. I’ll say no more at this stage but I am hopeful that, after Mrs Busman John and I uprooted ourselves from Torbay to move to Weston last year, it has not all been in vain.
Over the past few weeks since I last wrote on this blog I have been kept busy with driving and office duties. After Crosville gave up the 724 school contract around Chapel Allerton last November I have taken on another regular school route which runs through Mark, Blackford and Wedmore before arriving at The Kings of Wessex school in Cheddar. It’s a double run which sees me going straight out to Rodney Stoke to pick up more pupils and bring them in to another school in Cheddar. The duty is repeated in the opposite direction in the afternoon.
For the rest of the day I’m based at the depot in Winterstoke Road answering the phone, taking enquiries for coach & heritage private hires and keeping the computer-based booking & rostering system up to date. Occasionally I’m rostered to take a coach-load of school children to the swimming pool or to sports fixtures.
A few times I’ve been sent out to do meal relief duties on the 100 route, which I’ve quite enjoyed. It’s just a couple of round trips out to Sand Bay with a modern decker while the regular drivers take their lunch breaks. It’s been a while since I did stage carriage work but fortunately Crosville uses the same Ticketer system as Rail River Link, for whom I drove a few years ago. The buses used on the 100 are Volvo B7TL / Alexander which are a doddle to drive but obviously not as satisfying as a crash box Bristol!
The heritage buses haven’t been out since their last duties in December so we’ve taken the chance to get up to date with maintenance. After having work done on a prop shaft bearing I took BOC LC8518 (1959 LD6B 972EHW) up to Bristol to have its tachograph re-calibrated. This is something that has to be done every two years.
The recent cold spell wreaked havoc with local transport, as you can imagine. Last Thursday I had just set out on a school run in heavy snowfall when I was recalled to the depot after the school rang to say it wasn’t opening. Schools remained closed on Friday as snow and ice made the roads treacherous, so I didn’t work at all that day.
Crosville has sold ex-Eastern National Bristol KSW5G open top WNO480 (photo copyright Adrian Roberts, used with permission). Although acquired with a view to running it in the heritage fleet, it only ran once and that was at the Crosville bus rally last September. The buyer is none other than English Riviera Sightseeing Tours, for whom I drove for a few seasons. How their drivers will get on with the crash gearbox I don’t know but I’m hoping to be despatched to deliver the bus to Torquay in the next few weeks.