MTL (Transport Company) - MTL Merseymaid/MTL Silver Service - C

MTL (Transport Company) - C
MTL Merseymaid/MTL Silver Service
Merseymaid and Silver Service were brand names for cross-river double-deck Merseybus services between Liverpool and the Wirral via the Mersey Tunnels. Initially, a Willowbrook bodied Leyland Atlantean and five Alexander R-Type Leyland Olympians were refurbished at the Edge Lane works with soft trim, internal address systems and coach seats in November 1992, before then operating on routes 410 and 411 from Eastham to Liverpool.
To attract passengers, the drivers of 'Silver Service' buses were given special customer care training, while MTL advertised a weekly ticket lower than four days' tunnel toll fees. At the end of 1995, this operation was augmented with a batch of 30 similar specification Northern Counties Palatine II bodied Volvo Olympians, which were also used on other cross-river services. Silver Service branding was dropped inconspicuously during 1998.
MTL Merseymini
Merseymini was a branding exercise for Merseybus's attempt at minibus operation. Merseymini used a fleet of Alexander and Northern Counties bodied Dodge S56s, including some bought secondhand from GM Buses, and its most notable routes were two Merseytravel contracts and two commercial services. Other services between Huyton, Old Swan and Belle Vale were quickly dropped and the Merseymini name quietly vanished around 1992, when the low-cost MerseyRider unit became more involved with minibus operation.
MTL MerseyRider
MerseyRider began life in the autumn of 1992 as a low-cost operation set up by Merseybus a few months prior to the sale to privatisation. MerseyRider operated on lower margins and what would prove controversial pay-rates than Merseybus and initially operated out of Liverline's former Blackstock Street depot near Liverpool City Centre after Liverline had moved to a new depot in Bootle. Many of Merseybus's Merseytravel contracts were transferred to MerseyRider as well as Liverline's commercial service 102 (Walton/Broadway - Broadgreen Hospital).
At first the fleet included Merseybus's remaining Willowbrook bodied Leyland Atlanteans and a number of hired minibuses which were replaced at the beginning of 1993 by new K-registration Marshall bodied Mercedes-Benz 811Ds and a handful of similar G-registration vehicles bodied by Carlyle and bought secondhand from Cambus. These vehicles were painted in a cream and green livery not dissimilar to the former Liverpool Corporation/Merseyside Transport scheme.
That same year MTL was keen to expand the MerseyRider operation on both marginal services and retain its position in Liverpool's hotly contested bus market. The operation was therefore transferred to the mothballed Shaw Road depot in Speke which Merseybus had vacated in 1989.
A substantial number of Merseybus's East Lancs bodied Leyland Atlanteans were transferred to MerseyRider, appearing at first in a maroon and silver variant of Merseybus's maroon livery then a rather more attractive silver and blue scheme until the adoption of MTL 'corporate' cream and crimson livery at the beginning of 1994. Additionally the operations of Blue Triangle were transferred to MerseyRider after MTL acquired that company in the spring of 1994 along with three Alexander Strider bodied Volvo B10Bs which were part of MTL's intake of new vehicles from 1994 to 1996.
MerseyRider, however, was creating conflict between MTL's management - who were keen to expand the operation further - and its employees and the unions, who were concerned about new drivers being on lower pay scales to those within the core Merseybus operation and a bonus scheme based on the takings of each individual driver - a major source of profitability for MTL's competitors. Unions finally called a series of strikes in 1994 and 1995 after the transfer of service 72 (Halewood - Liverpool City Centre) from Merseybus's Garston depot in South Liverpool to MerseyRider, with the effect that with the exception of MTL Fareway and ironically MerseyRider the entire MTL operation was off the road.
MTL reconsidered its position and eventually brought the MerseyRider's terms and conditions in line with those of Merseybus, which compromised the profitability of the operation and subsequently it was closed. Some services were transferred to MTL Fareway and in August 1996 the MerseyRider operation ceased when MTL transferred the Garston depot of Merseybus to the Shaw Road depot in Speke.
MTL Lancashire Travel
Between 1988 and 1993 Merseybus began expanding the network of services operated by its St Helens depot. At first these were to nearby Wigan but gradually a network of 'Merseybus' services began to appear in Bolton, Salford and Manchester. GM Buses was already under siege from a number of independent operators in Greater Manchester and the arrival of Merseybus/MTL in their established territory started a bus war between the two companies from 1993 until the summer of 1995.
MTL launched a two-pronged attack on the Greater Manchester bus market. The first of which consisted of the creation of a new company, MTL Manchester, which had a depot in the Miles Platting area of Manchester and mainly focused on competing with GM Buses (North/South) on city corridors in Manchester and satellite towns such as Altrincham, Bury, Sale and Stockport.
The second phase of MTL's move into Greater Manchester was to rebrand the Merseybus services operated by the St Helens depot as Lancashire Travel in the autumn of 1993. In turn Lancashire Travel expanded on to much of the GM Buses (North) network of both local and interurban services in Bolton, Wigan, Leigh, Salford and North Manchester.
To facilitate this the 1989 batch of 25 MCW Metrobus MkIIs were transferred from Merseybus's Gillmoss depot to St Helens along with some early model MkI Metrobuses, again from Gillmoss and a variety of secondhand sources including London Buses, Mainline Buses, Newport Transport and Yorkshire Rider. In addition MTL's first new vehicles, 13 Wright Endurance bodied Volvo B10Bs, were delivered to Lancashire Travel in the spring of 1994. These moves provoked GM Buses (North/South) to begin new services in Liverpool, Southport and the Wirral, the latter using a light blue and cream livery - not dissimilar to that of Birkenhead Corporation - and were branded Birkenhead & District.
However the moves by MTL and GM Buses (North/South) into Greater Manchester and Merseyside were highly unprofitable and as such a controversial 'gentlemen's agreement' was signed between MTL and GM Buses North/South in June 1995, which saw MTL pull out of much of Greater Manchester - with the exception of Wigan and Leigh near to Lancashire Travel's St Helens depot and GM Buses North/South from all of Merseyside - including its well established 34 (Liverpool - Manchester Express) and 320 (Liverpool - Wigan) services which severed some important links between the two conurbations.
This agreement was subject to a 1995/96 Monopolies & Mergers Commission study which found MTL, GM Buses North/South, North Western and other Merseyside bus operators in collusion and in breach of fair trade resulting in fines for all concerned. By that time GM Buses (South) had been acquired by Stagecoach and re-branded Stagecoach Manchester and GM Buses (North) by FirstBus. MTL maintained the Lancashire Travel branding for the St Helens depot however MTL North fleetnames were used by St Helens from the Spring of 1998 right up to the acquisition of MTL by Arriva in February 2000.
MTL (Transport Company) Overview
MTL Industry: Transport
MTL Founded: 1992
MTL Defunct: 2000
MTL Fate: Purchased by Arriva
MTL Successor: Arriva
MTL Headquarters: Merseyside
MTL Products: Rail transport, Bus transport, Coach travel
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