There is a sense that the so-called People’s Republic of South Yorkshire might yet come out on the right side of history half a century after it chose to subsidise cheap fares and expand public transport. That what was considered inefficient and wasteful in the 1980s is a model for how today’s city regions could improve air quality and social mobility.

The reorganisation of local government in April 1974 created passenger transport executives in the new metropolitan counties of South and West Yorkshire, and in their different ways – but with similar titles influenced by the colours of its buses – these two books commemorate the anniversary of the creation of South Yorkshire PTE.

Their five authors all agree that the livery was the organisation’s least inspiring feature. Anxious not to favour one community over the others, the PTE was boxed into a corner on colours. The blues of Sheffield and Rotherham were out of the question, likewise the red and purple of Doncaster and it avoided National Bus Company red and green.

So, it was coffee and cream. The first serving of coffee was so milky that it barely registered as brown. It was soon darkened and the proportions of the colours were varied, but it lacked impact and perhaps the easiest decision taken by the arm’s length company that took over its buses in 1986 was to relegate brown to the skirt and paint the rest red and cream.

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