1990sIn 1991, a little later than in most areas, Stroud joined the urban minibus revolution, with the introduction of Ford Transits on the “Metro C” between town and Cashes Green. The higher frequencies achieved by the conversion proved popular with passengers but not with the taxi trade. For the first time since 1960, the C reintroduced buses into the back onto town centre streets. The Transits would also find their way onto deeper rural services such as to Oakridge Lynch.In 1992, Merrywalks bus station closed to passengers (save for the interchange of children at school times). The travel office moved to John Street. The associated on-street running proved widely unpopular within the town. In 1997, buses went back into the bus station, as did the information office, following the purchase of the site by the district council. Also in 1992, the former Western National garage site was sold to Waitrose for a supermarket development, with buses moving farther east in 1993 to the current Bowbridge location. Most services were extended to terminate at Waitrose but this proved to be short-
lived.After several overtures, in April 1993, Stagecoach PLC purchased Cheltenham & Gloucester’s parent company. Stroud’s buses were henceforward branded as “Stagecoach Stroud Valleys”. In a three year programme, Stagecoach immediately began to repaint its buses into its corporate white with three stripes. The last green bus was so treated in 1996. The loss of green was much lamented, by staff, by passengers and by the area in general.Under Stagecoach came more minibuses, some new, most second-hand. Some of the new arrivals coincided with network enhancements in1997. A year later, the end of the bulk scholars’ agreement by which Stroud’s buses for years had carried Downfield scholars, resulted a “new and improved” network with further general enhancements and the ability to use minibuses on rural journeys previously requiring conventional buses. Among an assortment of fleet movements, Stroud’s first super low floor buses arrived in 1998 and 1999. Not surprisingly, they were second hand, from Oxford and Manchester, being Alexander Dennis ALX200 saloons. They were sub-branded as “LoLiners”. These were initially for the evening & Sunday contracts between Stroud, Stonehouse and Gloucester and, during the day, were used between Stroud and Stonehouse, Stagecoach having previously reintroduced a 20-minute daytime frequency on this corridor.
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