Buses Exit-era

It looks like today is the end of the road for Buses Excetera (BETC Ltd.), whose network over recent years has reduced to just a handful of commercially operated routes – two Monday to Saturday bus routes both serving Guildford, plus six school routes centred around Godalming or St Andrew’s School in Leatherhead.

 

Quick history lesson…

The operator’s network was previously, until recently, further reaching though. It all seemed to start going downhill from September 2017. Until that time, they operated the following routes:

  • 23: Guildford to Bushy Hill
  • 24: Guildford to Cranleigh (via Bramley)
  • 25: Guildford to Cranleigh (via Peaslake)
  • 28: Guildford to Chobham
  • 32: Guildford to Strood Green (Sunday)
  • 43: Godalming College to Cranleigh
  • 45: Rodborough School to Busbridge
  • 73: Woking to Chobham
  • 125: George Abbot School to Shalford
  • 318: Epsom to Banstead
  • 416: Epsom to Leatherhead
  • 479: Epsom to Guildford
  • 617: St Andrew’s School to Banstead
  • 618: St Andrew’s School to Walton-on-the-Hill
  • 619: St Andrew’s School to Lower Kingswood
  • 668: St Andrew’s School to North Cheam
  • 866: Beacon School to Coulsdon

September 2017 saw Surrey County Council (SCC) award the contracts for Guildford routes 23, 24, 25 and 125 to Compass Bus. From the same time Excetera cancelled their 416 but resurrected the 489 number for a short-lived Leatherhead to Merstham service. They also split the 28 back into two halves (28 Woking to Guildford, and 73 Woking to Chobham) to allow a reduced frequency over the commercial southern half, having taken on the 28 and merged it with the 73 the previous year when Arriva withdrew from the 28. This meant that as of September 2017, they operated routes 28, 32 (Sunday), 43, 45, 73, 318, 479, 489, 617, 618, 619, 668 and 866. The 489 only lasted four months though, being withdrawn after the last bus ran on Friday 19th January 2018 – the Saturday service had already been withdrawn prior. So as of a year later – last July, 2018 – the company was now running the following routes…

  • 28: Guildford to Woking
  • 32: Guildford to Strood Green (Sunday)
  • 43: Godalming College to Cranleigh
  • 45: Rodborough School to Busbridge
  • 73: Woking to Chobham
  • 318: Epsom to Banstead
  • 479: Epsom to Guildford
  • 617: St Andrew’s School to Banstead
  • 618: St Andrew’s School to Walton-on-the-Hill
  • 619: St Andrew’s School to Lower Kingswood
  • 668: St Andrew’s School to North Cheam
  • 866: Beacon School to Coulsdon

The summer is the typical renewal time of Surrey County Council (SCC) tenders though, coinciding with the new school year. Last summer (2018) was bad news for Buses Excetera as all of their contracted routes went to other operators! The Sunday service on routes 32 and 479 went to Stagecoach, the 73 went to Falcon Coaches, and the interworked 318 and 866 went to Metrobus. This left the operator with just their commercial services, operated until today…

  • 28: Guildford to Woking
  • 479: Guildford to Epsom (Mon-Sat)
  • 43: Godalming College to Cranleigh
  • 45: Rodborough School to Busbridge
  • 617: St Andrew’s School to Banstead
  • 618: St Andrew’s School to Walton-on-the-Hill
  • 619: St Andrew’s School to Lower Kingswood
  • 668: St Andrew’s School to North Cheam

 

Now, the present…

I was made aware of news at around 11:30 this morning that the operator had ceased trading following the morning school run, however I couldn’t find anything online regarding it. It certainly seemed bad form – collect the Monday morning weekly fares, before then announcing closure! I decided to put the news on the blog’s social media channels anyway though. There was no information available online, and some commenters on the social media channels said they still saw 479s on the road, however notices were later observed at Guildford bus station advising passengers of no 28 or 479 services. Glyn School, Ewell, later tweeted the following a few hours later at 14:53. It later emerged the council were informed at around 10am, so only an hour and a half or so before my social media posts.

 

Cover for routes is as follows:

Arriva will operate:

  • 479: Guildford to Epsom. The route will be operated from Saturday (16th March) to the current timetable. Tickets issued by Buses Excetera will remain valid and continue to be accepted until Friday 5th April.

Cardinal Buses will operate:

  • 617: St Andrew’s School to Banstead
  • 619: St Andrew’s School to Lower Kingswood

Falcon Coaches will operate:

  • 28: Guildford to Woking. The route will be operated from Wednesday (13th March) to the current timetable, initially using overall white ADL Enviro 200 MMC vehicles SK68 LZL (8.9m, formerly used by Chariot) and YW68 OVT (10.8m, formerly used by Newbury & District). The operator says that “during the next 2 weeks a further review of the time table will be carried as we review and understand our new commercial service”.

London General will operate:

  • 618: St Andrew’s School to Walton-on-the-Hill
  • 668: St Andrew’s School to North Cheam

Safeguard Coaches will operate:

  • 43: Godalming College to Cranleigh
  • 45: Rodborough School to Busbridge

 

falconbetcarrivals
YW68 OVT & SK68 LZL at Falcon’s garage on 12th March

 

Article revised on Tuesday 12th and Friday 15th with news of the route 28 and route 479 takeovers respectively.

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5 thoughts on “Buses Exit-era

  1. I’m sorry for the drivers but it’s a about time. They went bust last year and then set them selves up as 123bus the next day, it is believed that’s why SCC striped them of their contracts.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Final Excetera route covered | Hants & Surrey Bus Blog

  3. Pingback: Routes and Rallies | Hants & Surrey Bus Blog

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