Recently I found out that Stagecoach Manchester is to axe the 358 Stockport to Hayfield bus. It's a bus I know well and is always busy. But it's now due to get the axe. Why? Well we don't know for sure, but it's likely to be a quirk of Greater Manchester's move to bus franchising.
A common complaint about rail fares is how complex they are. That trying to work out the cheapest fare often requires a great deal of research and knowledge. Given how many times friends and family have asked me what the best ticket to buy for whatever scenario, there has to be some truth in this. But it's not a problem isolated to trains. It's true of buses as well. And other modes of travel like trams too.
Rumours that this Bus Week series was just a flimsy excuse to show pictures of old buses dressed up as a study of politics and the way it was applied to public transport are, frankly, unjust and uncalled for.
One of my early memories is of being at Hyde bus station with my mum and sister, boarding the 346 bus to take us home. As I board I stretch up to the driver and hand my shiny new ten pence coin and pay my fare. We then sit at the back of the bus for the short journey back to our house.
In the 1980s and 1990s a series of changes saw the UK's bus operations go from mostly publicly owned, to mostly privately owned. In a series of privatisations, bus companies were flogged off. But in the intervening 25 years, what has actually happened is that the UK's bus market has come under the control of a handful of large companies.
So what actually happened to the UK's publicly owned bus operations?
I have in the past written about the madness of train fares. My favourite is where a more flexible ticket that you can buy on the day turns out to be cheaper than a restrictive advance fare on the same train. It's completely illogical. Why would anyone want to buy a ticket with loads of strings attached above a cheaper one with far less? Then I found out it's not just train companies that are inflicted with such strangeness. You get find on the buses too.