Old Bus Tickets

West Bridgford UDC – Gibson

West Bridgford UDC - Gibson Bus Ticket

Here are a number of Gibson tickets from the small but fascinating West Bridgford UDC operation, which was merged with Nottingham City Transport in 1968. They operated seven services to Nottingham city centre (South Parade) jointly with NCT (routes 11, 12, 14, 15, 15A, 21 and 24). Up to the 1960s the enormous blinds on their 1948 AEC Regents proclaimed "Nottingham Old Market Square via Arkwright Street and LMS Station". They also had a share in the Nottingham – Clifton Estate services operated jointly with NCT and South Notts (routes 61, 61A, 66, 67 and 68).
Division of revenue on the joint services gave rise to interesting ticketing and conditions. The Gibson ticket machine had, I believe, 14 fare settings. (So they gave a little over twice the scope of the 6-track Ultimate used by NCT). WBUDC divided these 14 settings between 3 separate ranges of fares expressed in old pence, followed by the suffix T, C or W. Examples of each are shown. T indicated a through journey that crossed Trent Bridge, marking the boundary between the two local authorities, and necessitating division of revenue. C was for journeys wholly within the City of Nottingham, while W was for journeys wholly within West Bridgford. Because of the limited number of fares in each range, double tickets were issued for certain values. Are you confused yet? You soon will be!
Nottingham City Transport only had six ticket ranges to play with on their Ultimate machines. They solved the problem of revenue segregation on the joint services by loading one track with a roll of special one-penny tickets printed "WB". Journeys of any length that were wholly within West Bridgford were covered by the requisite number of these 1d tickets.
Now it gets really interesting. On outward trips from the city the minimum fare was that to the first stop in West Bridgford. You were not actually forbidden from making city journeys, but you paid as though you were going to West Bridgford. In other words all tickets issued up to Trent Bridge were automatically shared revenue. This fare penalty had the effect of discouraging short distance travellers from using the joint services. Actually it was no real hardship as NCT’s no.43 trolleybuses, which covered the same route as far as Trent Bridge, ran every 2½ minutes throughout the day. But I suspect the real reason for the restriction was the accounting difficulty of distinguishing "city" from "through" fares with the NCT Ultimate machines. The Gibsons on WBUDC could have coped of course.
So why did WBUDC have the "C" range of fares at all? Because on journeys heading into the city the minimum fare restriction was dropped. (The fare table advertised a set of "special fares on inward journeys only.") You could board the joint services at any stop from Trent Bridge heading towards the city centre at normal fares. You got a "C" ticket on a WBUDC bus. I believe NCT conductors were required to write up their waybills before reaching the Trent Bridge. Everything issued before that was shared revenue apart from the Penny WB’s. Everything collected afterwards was city revenue.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Ford

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Although only loosely related to this article, many operators seemed to find revenue allocation to be remarkably difficult, this being a subject in itself! In the North East ‘United’ and ‘Northern’ operated joint services for about 50 years without ever offering through fares across the territorial boundary until both became part of NBC; northbound passengers were sold a United ticket to either Durham or Easington, when passengers would rebook and receive a Northern ticket for the rest of the journey (and of course vice versa). The only exception was route 56 from Bishop Auckland to Newcastle where direct competition from OK Motors seems to have forced their hand.
This is simple, however, compared to the joint services operated by Middlesbrough and Stockton corporations (as described in the Stockton history by Peter Cardno and David Hunter). Although the fare table appeared normal, with through fares for all journeys, for revenue purposes there were only six defined journeys for which through tickets were available. Punch tickets were printed for each specific journey, along with the fare, and including childrens, workmens, and football special tickets it would seem that in total a range of about 20 tickets were printed.
For any journey which did not match one of these journeys either a Middlesbrough or Stockton ticket (or both) would be issued in combination. The fare table was accompanied by a chart showing which combinations to issue – for example, on the ‘O’ service;
6d. fare Norton to Cleveland Park would be a 5d. Stockton and 1d. Middlesbrough
8d. fare Norton to North Ormesby would be a 2½d. Stockton and a 5½d. ‘through’ ticket
Thornaby to Middlesbrough would be a 1½d. Middlesbrough and a 2½d. ‘through’ ticket. As this was the busiest route in the town conductors must have been kept busy, and they had to carry sets of tickets from both operators as well as the through set.
Stockton had adopted TIM ticket machines in 1933, but the above palaver meant that punch tickets were retained on the joint services until 1954 when agreement on revenue sharing was eventually reached.

David Todd

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Good grief – I’d never come across such a mind-boggling arrangement before. There were quite a few joint services round Nottingham usually Trent with the incumbent of whoever’s territory they were penetrating. They never bothered harmonising route numbers (Grantham was a Trent 79 or Lincolnshire 33C; Doncaster a Trent 64 or East Midland 36 etc.) But, at least in my day, they had come to some agreement about revenue sharing that made the conductor’s life simple, and kept the whole messy business out of public view. If you got on a Trent bus you got a Trent ticket (and if it was a return you were welcome to come back on the partner’s buses if you liked). And so it remained until the infamous deregulation gave us the "benefits" of beggar-my-neighbour competition, and criminalised the wickedness of joint service co-operation and ticket interavailability.

Stephen Ford

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Mind-boggling though the assignment of revenue was, I’m interested in how WBUDC came to have Gibson machines. As you are probably aware the Gibson was designed by a London Transport engineer for their own conductors. The tickets don’t appear to have any markings that might come from an adapted unit, so should I assume that WBUDC had the machines made by London Transport?

Trevor Haynes

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That’s interesting Trevor. I guess WBUDC bought them new in the late 50s, which I think was shortly after London Transport abandoned Bell Punch tickets. Douglas Corporation in the Isle of Man was another major user. I also happen to have a Gibson ticket from Athens, issued in 1975, printed in Greek characters. Correspondents on the ticketmachinewebsite.com suggest they were also to be found in Accrington, Melbourne (Australia), Cyprus, Mombasa (Kenya), maybe other African countries (presumably those with a British influence) and a UK municipal operator SCT (perhaps Southport).

Stephen Ford

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