Midland Red History: Transfer of Services and Assets to WMPTE

The West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE) formed on the 1st October 1969, to form a fully co-ordinated and integrated public transport system within the West Midlands Metropolitan County area.  With this in mind, negotiations for the transfer to WMPTE of all services operated wholly within this area by the BMMO, had taken place since the formation of the WMPTE.

On the 27th June 1973, after lengthy negotiations, it was announced that an agreement had been reached for BMMO stage carriage services within the forthcoming West Midlands County (to be formed on 1st April 1974 following the 1972 Local Government Act) would pass to WMPTE for the sum of £3,600,000.  The transfer of services took place on the 3rd December 1973, with the WMPTE taking control of 170 BMMO stage carriage services operated wholly within the West Midlands County boundary.  To operate these services 1,396 members of staff and 413 vehicles taken from eight BMMO depots across the West Midlands County transferred to the WMPTE.  Six of these depots transferred in their entirety with the sites coming under full control of the WMPTE.  Bus operations at Bearwood depot, formally the BMMO headquarters, were among those passed to the WMPTE, but the site remained under the control of BMMO with vehicles and traffic staff relocating to other WMPTE depots.

BMMO continued to operate their coaching activities and cross-boundary bus services in the West Midlands County with very little change to the timetables, while WMPTE cross-boundary services in the Wolverhampton area passed to BMMO.  The BMMO depots at Bromsgrove and Cradley Heath, which had both closed in 1971, reopened to give BMMO the required capacity to operate all the cross-boundary services following the control of six depots passing to WMPTE, and the closure of operations at Bearwood depot.

Vehicles passed to WMPTE operated initially in overall red BMMO livery.  However, “West Midlands” fleet names and logos replaced the Midland “Red” markings on all vehicles within a few days of the transfer, and eventually all transferred vehicles received WMPTE livery of cream and blue, with many repainted by BMMO at their Central Works on behalf of the WMPTE as part of a 5-year maintenance contract.  BMMO S17 number 5762 (registration number EHA762D), and Daimler Fleetline number 6269 (registration number YHA269J) became the first two former BMMO vehicles to be receive WMPTE livery, both being repainted in advance of the transfer, allowing them to re-enter service in their new livery on the first day of new operations.

With the change in operators on so many routes, over one thousand bus stops received new plates to assist customers in identifying which services called at which stops.  Initially single fares were unchanged, but from the transfer date WMPTE made their go-anywhere Travelcard season tickets available on all their newly acquired services, thus considerably increasing the extent of the tickets availability, and allowing sizable saving for regular passengers who previously needed to travel with two operators.