THE STORY OF A NATIONAL EXPRESS CONTRACTOR
ROY WHYTE looks into the history of Bruce Coaches and finds out what it takes to operate some of the UK’s longest routes
When I moved to Bournemouth in 1989 the Travel Interchange was always a hive of activity with National Express (NE) coaches arriving from and departing to London every 90 minutes on Rapide service 515. Numerous once daily coach services left Bournemouth on routes to Brighton and Penzance (725), Halifax (735), Wolverhampton – twice daily – (773), Weymouth and Bradford (310), Blackpool (343), Ramsgate and Gatwick (025), Heathrow and Gatwick (015), Liverpool (830) and Scotland (549).
The most interesting coaches for me at the time were those operating on Rapide service 549 from Bournemouth to Scotland. Bebb Travel, Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd began operating Rapide service 549 from Bournemouth/ Haverfordwest to Dundee on October 26, 1986. By the summer timetable of 1989 Bebbs was operating from Bournemouth to Inverness. The coaches used were a highlight for me – they were the Kassbohrer Setra S215HR Rational and S215HD Tornado. Amongst the other NE coaches on the scene the Setra models were indeed eye-catching and definitely stylish in Rapide livery.