Not Going Green
Preface: 35 years ago, to the surprise and even shock of those outside Hants & Dorset’s head office, its buses abandoned the hitherto rich dark green and cream livery in favour of poppy red…
Whatever happened to green bus liveries?
Privatisation of the National Bus Company did for green what the governments of the 1960s tried to do for selective grammar schools. After privatisation, few of the previously green fleets remained that way for long. The coming of the large groups meant that there was soon little left of green (or red, for that matter) as a fleet livery. Some say Arriva’s base colour is green; it is not. The aquamarine gemstone after which the colour is named has a delicate blue tint.
Before that, green was both gaining and losing. The appropriation of fleets by the new PTEs annihilated green liveries such as Wolverhampton’s, while West Yorkshire and Merseyside PTEs chose green throughout. Under NBC, West Riding and Hants & Dorset went red, yet East Midland went green. Not that the universality of NBC leaf green was much liked or appreciated. The amalgamation of green Aldershot & District and red Thames Valley saw the resultant Alder Valley choose the latter colour.
So, which companies are now left in what was once so popular a colour?
Well, last year the fleet of Southern Vectis reverted to green, having jettisoned a variety of individual liveries previously for branded routes. Like any small operation, it was inevitable that the wrongly coloured bus would end up on the wrong route. While Vectis’ green is shades away from its traditional colour, green it certainly is, though one shade *does* bear a resemblence to the pre-war colour.
Then, there’s Fishwick of Leyland. Hardly a major fleet, its livery has changed but little over the decades. Fishwick’s greens are almost military in hue. Bus service upstarts Roadliner of Poole and Cavendish of Eastbourne are also green, the latter choosing Southdown’s traditional livery. Western Greyhound's green and white is quite traditional. Similarly sized Norfolk Green is obviously green. Ipswich Buses has a large proportion of that colour within its livery and larger Cardiff Bus' standard livery inlcudes a deep blue-green. Neighbouring Welsh municipal Newport has more green. Halifax sees competitive buses in a green-based livery, a style even older than the vehicles themselves. And then there’s Nottingham City, with its array of livery styles, remarkably with a proportion of its fleet in Nottinghham Network livery of two-tone green.
And that’s about it, really, aside from route-branded non-standard green buses. Unless you know different. Compare this to the situation before the Market Analysis Project cull of the early 1980s, when there were some 15,000 green buses operating for NBC, PTE or municipal fleets in Britain. Now, there’s about one per cent of that total.
And don’t forget that green is also out of favour on the railways. Green vanished from the late 1960s and so far as I know, only one privatised TOC is currently in green, Central, and that is to be fragmented in November among other franchises.
But, in the light of Southern Vectis’ two-tone green decision, is it time to reappraise green and bring it back? Isn’t it the colour best placed to trumpet the environmental credentials of bus travel?
Why has green disappeared? Is it because green is seen to be too dull? Because it fades into the background, both in the countryside and the grey of urban Britain? Is it simply too old fashioned? Does it lack imagination? Is it thought to be superstitious?
Monday, 16 April 2007
Not Going Green
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007