Old Bus Tickets

Midland Red – Setright Speed

BMMO_lr

Above is a Setright Speed from "Midland Red" (officially the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Co. Ltd. – BMMO). As it is a 3/9d single, it will have been issued on the X99 Birmingham – Nottingham limited stop service. "Outward" suggests it was this direction, and not the other. My use of Midland Red was limited to visits to relatives in Lichfield in the early 1960s. From Long Eaton this was a two-stage journey involving the X99 between Long Eaton and Tamworth (the 3/9d fare – child fare was 1/10½d – no rounding up to the nearest penny!) then the frequent 765 (Coventry – Lichfield) between Tamworth and Lichfield. The X99 was almost invariably operated by the 40-seat dual purpose S15′s with black roofs, and 5048 HA was virtually dedicated to the route, along with one or two more in the 504x HA range.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Ford

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05/11/11 – 07:31

Midland Red Setright Speeds were unusual in that their Mark 1s did not provide for stage numbers as they did not use these at the time of their introduction. A four figure ticket serial number was provided plus Inward and Outward on the ticket.
Walsall Corporation used an almost identical format.
I have an original BMMO Mk 1 restored to LSD BO7.

Allan T Condie

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05/11/11 – 13:36

Allan, that’s interesting. I seem to remember that on the X99 the conductor (it was always conductor operated), made a brief waybill entry two or three times on the journey from Long Eaton to Tamworth – presumably noting the serial number reached at specific points on the journey. In this absence of stage numbers, this would identify the issuing point in the event of an inspector boarding to do a check.

Stephen Ford

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23/11/11 – 07:15

I’m writing the history of some of Midland Red’s services including the X99 as my Mother comes from Appleby Magna which is just off the A453 road between Tamworth and Measham.
It was normal practice for all Setright users to mark up waybills at certain stages or timing points. Midland Red waybills were lengthy things held in a foolscap size tin frame, and you are right in saying that the Inspector could ascertain from the serial numbers on the tickets who had boarded where.
We still use Setrights on special services here in and around Perth on the Stagecoach Heritage Fleet so I am still adept at keeping my waybill up.

Allan T Condie

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04/05/12 – 09:03

Trainee conductors at the Conductors Training Centre located at Sheepcote Street Garage in Birmingham had to write out a waybill entering every stage on the long 144 Birmingham to Malvern service. I conducted on that service from Digbeth Garage and in actual use the waybill only had to be entered at stages underlined in the Fare Book with one or two stages in between according to how far apart the underlined stages were. Underlined stages required full machine readings, the rest requiring ticket serial number reading only. On all services entering Birmingham full readings had to be entered at the city boundary stage regardless of the nearest underlined stage. This applied also when crossing boundaries of other municipal bus operators, many of which were in the West Midlands before the formation of the West Midlands P.T.E.

Mike Holloway

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05/05/12 – 17:43

On Northern General, in Setright days, the "official" rule was that conductors had to book-up at every fare stage at which they issued tickets; this only involved entering the last three digits of the ticket number from the machine (i.e. the numbers which appeared on the tickets themselves). This was supposed to mean that, after passengers had boarded at a fare stage, the conductor had to issue tickets, then book-up before issuing tickets to passengers boarding at the next fare stage. This was all very well on a quiet rural service or on a quiet run, but was impossible to maintain on a busy service – in those days very few stops weren’t farestages – so most conductors chose to book-up only at selected, more important, intermediate points; for example between Newcastle and Durham a conductor might book-up at Newcastle, Birtley, Chester-le-Street, Plawsworth and Durham or a similar selection. In Northern territory conductors were required to show In or Out (as indicated on the faretable) but not stage numbers. Full machine readings including those for the pence and shilling counters were only entered when changing from one service to another or, on joint services, when leaving Northern territory and again when leaving United territory on the way back. United, however, required conductors to use stage numbers and to count the number of passengers on board at selected farestages (denoted in the faretables by bold print for the stage number and an asterisk alongside) and to enter the full machine readings (i.e. pence, shillings and tickets) at journey’s end; Northern conductors on joint services had to adhere to the same system. In my experience few conductors were fastidious as far as counting passengers was concerned, especially on a ‘decker: a quick glance in the mirror, a look over one shoulder and a rough guess usually seemed to suffice!

Alan Hall

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06/05/12 – 10:01

I had wondered how Northern managed without numbered fare stages (and indeed why!) Presumably recording the ticket number at each stage would enable an inspector to work out when a passenger had boarded, although this would not help with return tickets.

David Todd

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06/05/12 – 10:02

I had to chuckle at Alan’s last sentence as, after half a century of confidently thinking that I’d "got away with it" I seem to have been rumbled !! At Samuel Ledgard’s the same requirement existed that passengers must be counted and entered on the waybill at each timing/booking up point. However, discipline at the Firm was pretty rigid and the "rough guess" needed to be reasonably accurate if possible. Just to add to the pressure on busy trips we were also required to enter on the rear of the waybill the serial number of EVERY banknote taken, can you imagine that today ??

Chris Youhill

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07/05/12 – 10:30

Every note, Chris? That really does seem absurd, particularly in the days of £1 notes and even 10/- notes. Did you have to enter them on your waybill as and when you took them or just when paying in? Even that would have been bad enough!
David, I can’t remember the reason for not using stage numbers – possibly some union agreement dating back to the introduction of "these new-fangled Bellgraphics". I’m being facetious but you never know! Gateshead and Tyneside conductors managed to use stage numbers on their Ultimates on (generally) busier routes. As for checking by inspectors, much more common in those days too, it must have been very hitty-missy especially as OMO drivers tended not to bother much with booking-up except at termini. As you say, returns would have been a nightmare although Northern didn’t have all that many return fares in the old days. Crew changeovers presented another problem; the conductor being relieved was meant to leave a transfer slip which the relieving conductor was supposed to retain until the end of the journey but all that showed was the machine number and the starting and finishing ticket number for the journey. Imagine the case of, say, an inspector trying to check a Sunderland to Consett bus at Leadgate if the conductor had only taken over at Stanley: a transfer slip would be of little use other than showing that most of the tickets were issued from the correct machine.
Those unfamiliar with Northern operating practices may be interested to know that, on joint services with United, ticket rolls had to be changed over at the boundary points – Durham or Easington Village – and no through fares were issued except for a few on the 56 (later 724) between Newcastle and Bishop Auckland in order to compete with OK Motor Services’ shorter and quicker route between the two points. These returns were not issued from the machine, however, but handwritten on Emergency (EMB) tickets, a practice also adopted by United on cross-border services between Newcastle and Edinburgh or Glasgow; the conductors on those services not only had to handwrite through tickets (to certain specific points only) and change the ticket roll at Coldstream, Jedburgh or Berwick (as appropriate) but also change waybills and insert a device into the front slot in order to enable them to issue SMT/Eastern Scottish returns and 10/12 journey tickets which were only half the width of their own!
Having mentioned earlier in this post the issue of through returns to compete with OK Motor Services, I should perhaps mention that, until the late 1970s, in stead of simply clipping return tickets, OK conductors had to retain the return ticket and issue an exchange ticket to the value of the equivalent single fare! I believe that was a throwback to the days of Bell Punch tickets and the joint operation of the Newcastle service by OKMS and E Howe (OKMS) and the necessity to ensure correct apportionment of revenue. As a part-time conductor with OKMS for a number of years I always found this a nightmare and I was very grateful when the practice was ended and we could simply clip the return ticket although most conductors simply either tore the ticket in half or stabbed it with a pen!
I’m sorry for the length of this post and to have digressed so far from Midland Red and I apologise to any readers from the Midlands who don’t know (or care) what I’ve been blathering about!

Alan Hall

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08/05/12 – 09:01

Yes indeed Alan – every note. The only way to deal with it was to keep them handy until you had chance to return to the platform, and then enter them on the waybill before stowing them safely away. Any which had to be given in change later (quite rarely actually) had to be neatly crossed through. It was a pest of a chore admittedly, although of course in those days most single fares were a fairly small part of even a ten shilling note and I couldn’t say that we were overwhelmed with them as a rule. Probably Sundays and Bank Holidays were the worst as our routes served many lovely tourist places, relatively speaking fewer people had cars, and those days were when you got plenty of "Two and three halves and the dog to Ilkley please" etc – that’s where the notes cropped up as much as anywhere. Busy days they were for sure, but to an enthusiast enjoyable in the extreme, and I’d go back to it tomorrow if that was possible.

Chris Youhill