2000sIn 2001, Stagecoach rebranded itself with a new “beach ball” livery… and a new name for Stroud’s buses, “Stagecoach in the Cotswolds”. In time, “in the Cotswolds” was to disappear, resulting in just the name “Stagecoach”.Also in 2001, Stroud fell under the new Stagecoach West & Wales parent, which included operations in South Wales, although this was later to be split into two, with Stagecoach West again assuming responsibility for Stroud, along with Cheltenham, Gloucester, Swindon and the Forest.In 2001, Cotswold Experience won two vehicles-worth of contracts from Stagecoach. A year later, Cotswold Experience withdrew from the bus station, using Cornhill. In August 2005, Ebley Bus & Stagecoach between them put paid to Cotswold Experience’s local bus work. With the end of the lease, Merrywalks bus station closed in 2003 and Stagecoach moved its travel shop into the precinct proper but in 2007 back to the new Merrywalks extension, alongside the southbound stops. This closed in 2018 and crew control and passenger information was now available from the Old Police Station, which was much less convenient. The bus station finally closed for redevelopment in March 2004. The replacement facility, designed initially as “temporary”, resulted in shelters dotted on either side of the busy A46 Merrywalks itself, outside where the bus station had been. Ambitious plans to develop an integrated interchange at the rail station came to nought. 2002 saw network changes resulting in buses departing Merrywalks largely at nn10 and nn40. This included through services from France Lynch to Gloucester via Stroud and Tetbury to Gloucester via Minchinhampton & Stroud. Severe roadworks put paid to this new approach which in any case was over-optimistic. From January 2004, Stagecoach de-registered certain journeys on the 8 (town service), 21 (Stonehouse), & 22 (Chalford); many journeys south and east of Stroud on the formerly hourly 92/92A (Minchinhampton & Tetbury); and withdraw from the 36 (Kingscourt) & 54 (Cirencester). Subsequent contracts were awarded to an ever-expanding Ebley Coaches, from 2004 using the Ebley Bus name, the effect of which on the Stagecoach network was to see what may best be described as a timetable as tidy as an unmade bed, with Ebley augmenting Stagecoach journeys on the 8/8A, 21, 22, & 92/92A. In August 2005, Stagecoach abandoned many of these services entirely, including east of the Toadsmoor Valley between Bourne and Chalford, an initial 1919 National/Western National length. Ebley Bus was the main recipient.The 620 (Tetbury – Bath), formerly Stagecoach’s, passed initially to South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach and then in February 2004 to
Ebley. Under-occupied Stroud drivers found themselves working at other depots, including on Cheltenham minibus services P (Ewens Farm) and Q (Rail Station – Ryeworth). October 2004 saw the first new vehicles at Stroud for some time, in the shape of two Stagecoach Optare Solo minibuses (47121/2), replacing the Mercedes 709s on the 37 to Cashes Green. In the autumn of 2007, Ebley Bus was to morph into Cotswold Green Ltd. The adopted livery was white with and the return of green to the area’s buses.June 2007 saw the relaunch of the now Citi-branded 14 (Stroud – the Stanleys – Stonehouse – Kingsway – Gloucester) as hourly over the Stroud to Stonehouse section, in combination with shorts every 15 minutes from Kingsway to Gloucester. Stroud undertook all turns on this enhanced 14. 2008 was punctuated by an increasingly bitter row over concessionary travel reimbursements. In spite of growing concessionaires, it resulted in the half-hourly 26 (France Lynch) reducing to hourly; and the 37 (Cashes Green) from every 15 to every 20 minutes. In 2007, the 46 (Cheltenham) and 93 (Gloucester) were relaunched with (eventually) branded Dennis Trident/ALX400s, by then just three years old, from Stagecoach Manchester South. Since the arrival in 1981 of brand new Bristol VRs for these services, there have been youngish vehicle upgrades with Olympians, ex-London Olympians and now Tridents.
Those who wish to have a thorough understanding of Stroud’s bus history should seek out the book “Stroud’s Buses” by N P Daniels. Over 279 pages, it gives a comprehensive & illustrated history