The UK’s largest public sector operator reaches its half-century in April. PAUL SAVAGE considers what it has achieved but also suggests ways it could improve the quality of service today.

Service 212 (Londonderry- Belfast), begun in 1991 with two round trips a day, now runs every 15min at peak periods and demands the use of double-deck coaches, such as Caetano Invictusbodied Scania K410UB6 tri-axle 2037 (IXZ 1837), photographed in Durham Street, Belfast on its final approach to the Europa Bus Centre.

Ulsterbus is 50 years old on 17 April, the day in 1967 when the stateowned company took over the road passenger operations of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA).

Today it is by some margin the largest public sector bus operator in the UK, with nearly 1,100 buses, express service and touring coaches providing 300 services from 20 principal depots across Northern Ireland. The sister Metro business in Belfast has another 275 vehicles. Outside London, this is the only part of the UK where bus services have never been deregulated.

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