2010sIn 2009, Cotswold Green purchased what was to be Stroud’s only brand new conventional bus in exactly 30 years. It was also Cotswold Green’s first low floor vehicle and it was destined for the 620 (Old Sodbury – Bath). It was a 39-seat MAN 12.240 with Plaxton Centro saloon. The company was tempted by a significant reduction in price by a MAN dealer but, unfortunately, it proved to be an ailing and unreliable vehicle. Body parts, in particular, were an issue with such a non-standard body as this. It was relatively short-lived at Cotswold Green, passing to Houston’s of Lockerbie. A change of direction at the 2014 retirement of its long-standing managing director of 10 years quickly saw Stroud’s Stagecoach network reorganised, in November 2014. Stagecoach called it “probably the most significant change [in Stroud] for more than 30 years”. Gone was the link between Forest Green, Nailsworth and Cheltenham as, henceforward, all half-hourly Nailsworth services would operate via Stroud to Gloucester only, as service 63. Stagecoach introduced an hourly through service from Dursley, Stonehouse, Ebley, Stroud via Painswick to Cheltenham (ser 61). The 14s became 66 from Stroud to Glocuester via the Stanleys & Stonehouse. Buses from France Lynch linked across Stroud to Stonehouse via Stroud (ser 64) which, when combined with the 61& 66, continued to offer three buses an hour along the Ebley Road. Some of these changes were untangled. In October 2016, Stroud to Dursley again became standalone hourly, now half-hourly along the Ebley Road with the 64 from France Lynch to Stonehouse. Delivery in Cheltenham of the second generation “Gold” buses for the 94 (Cheltenham – Gloucester) resulted in October 2016 in seven 09-plate Scania N230UD/ADL Enviro 400s double deckers cascading to Stroud, five of which were branded for the 63 Nailsworth – Gloucester service. It was therefore at this point that the 63 and 66 was both converted to Stagecoach’s “Gold” specification, with buses with leather seating, more generous seat pitches and free wi-fi. The 66s were
supplemented by nine Gold-specified MAN/ADL Enviro 300 single decks with a PVR of eight. Like Cotswold Green’s MAN, these were non-standard, reliability was not the highest and there were often substitutions by conventional buses. Much more was to come. Coinciding with a real biting of Westminster’s austerity programme, Stagecoach was successful in the Gloucestershire January 2016 tenders, beginning to ease out lower-cost niche operator Cotswold Green. Stagecoach won from Cotswold Green the Stroud – Selsley – Uley – Dursley ser 35 (renumbered as 65 from September 2016). In September 2016, Stagecoach relieved Cotswold Green of the 69 between Stroud, Minchinhampton and Tetbury, which extended to Old Sodbury and there connected without the need to change buses with the 620 to Bath via Yate. It was from this date that Gloucestershire cancelled the Cotswold Green contract between Stroud and Minchinhampton via Butterow Hill and Amberley, leaving intermediate villages with a Thursday-only demand-responsive service operated by Community Connections. This was a reversal of a nationwide trend that tended to see lower cost operators winning contracts from the established larger providers. In Stroud’s case, Stagecoach’s gains were to the detriment of a previously expanding Cotswold Green. Marking a more aggressive stratagem at Stagecoach West, Stagecoach won from Wessex Bus Ltd the 84-6 between Wotton-under-Edge and Yate. In July 2018, Stagecoach was successful on the former Swanbrook 351 contract between Gloucester and Tewkesbury via Apperley, Staunton & Hartpury; and, from September 2018, had purchased the rump of Rotala’s Wessex Bus Ltd services in Avon. With expansion again in the air, there would be a question mark over Cotswold Green’s remaining services at tender time, notably their 40 (Stroud – Nailsworth – Wotton-under-Edge) and 54/54A (Stroud – Chalford – Cirencester), in whatever form they survived austerity.
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