Arriva North West was originally formed following the split of Ribble Motor Services in preparation for privatisation in 1986, with the operations in Merseyside, West Lancashire and Wigan trading as North Western. The name was taken from the former North Western operations, which ran between 1923 and 1976. In 1988 the North Western operations were sold to Drawlane who was later sold to British Bus, who also took over the operations of the Bee Line Buzz Company, who ran services in Greater Manchester. In 1996, British Bus was bought by the Cowie Group. In November 1997 Cowie was rebranded as Arriva with North Western becoming Arriva North West in 1998.
In February 2000, Arriva North West purchased MTL Trust Holdings, which created a larger presence in the Merseyside area and more than doubled the size of the company. In 2002, Arriva North West merged with Arriva Cymru to form Arriva North West & Wales. Three former Arriva Midlands depots in Crewe, Macclesfield and Winsford were transferred into the North West & Wales operation, although Crewe closed in December 2005.
In July 2005 Arriva purchased Blue Bus of Bolton, which almost doubled their presence in Greater Manchester. In January 2009, the Wales operation was split from Arriva North West as Arriva Buses Wales with the Arriva North West name resurrected for the North West England operations.
Although the company is officially known as Arriva North West, some operations were originally registered under alternative Arriva names. Former Bee Line operations were registered as Arriva Manchester, some Liverpool operations and, slightly confusingly, the former Blue Bus operations were registered as Arriva Liverpool. As of Autumn 2011 a large proportion of services in Merseyside remain registered under the separate Arriva Merseyside licence, all other services are registered under the Arriva North West licence.
The company has depots in:
- Birkenhead - Laird Street
- Bolton - Folds Road
- Bootle - Hawthorne Road
- Liverpool (Stoneycroft) - Green Lane
- Liverpool (Speke) - Shaw Road (sometimes referred to as Woodend Avenue)
- Macclesfield - Lyme Green - Gaw End Lane (now regarded as an outstation of Winsford)
- Runcorn - Beechwood Avenue
- St Helens - Jackson Street
- Southport - Canning Road
- Winsford - Road Four, Winsford Industrial Estate
- Wythenshawe (Manchester) - Greeba Road, Roundthorn Industrial Estate
Past depots, now closed or sold, have included:
- Crewe - Delamere Street (closed December 2005)
- Gillmoss - East Lancashire Road (sold to Glenvale Transport in July 2001 in response to a Competition Commission requirement)
- Huyton - Wilson Road (closed 2006)
- Manchester - St Andrew's Square (near Manchester Piccadilly station (closed March 2012)
- Skelmersdale - Neverstitch Road (closed 23 July 2011)
- Warrington - Athlone Road (closed February 2002)
As at March 2013, the fleet consists of approximately 910 vehicles. A wide variety of makes and types are represented, although DAF and VDL chassis predominate, accounting for around 60% of the fleet, and over half of the fleet carries bodywork by Wrightbus. The fleet is about 77% single-deck and 98% low-floor. Arriva stated its intention to make its main routes serving Liverpool completely low-floor by 2008 and similarly for the whole of Merseyside by 2011.
On the double-deck side of the fleet 44 Volvo B5L hybrids with Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork entered service at Bolton and Birkenhead depots in spring 2013 - 11 at Bolton and 33 at Birkenhead. A total of 47 new VDL DB300s with Wright Gemini 2 bodywork were delivered to Speke and Winsford depots towards the end of 2011 and early 2012. The bulk of the order - 44 buses - going to Speke. Prior to this, thirty-five Alexander Dennis Enviro400s entered service in 2009, mainly displacing Volvo Olympians. Twenty-three of the Enviro400s were for routes through the Mersey Tunnels, these being the first vehicles in the fleet to carry the interurban (now standard) variant of Arriva livery, apart from a solitary demonstrator. The other twelve were for services between Bootle and Aigburth Vale.
Previously, 30 Volvo B7TL with Alexander ALX400 bodywork had entered service on routes between Liverpool and Garston in 2006, marking the end of a 7½ year hiatus of new double-deckers. The low floor double-deck fleet has been boosted by over 50 DAF DB250s with Alexander ALX400 bodywork and six Wright Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvos from Arriva London, and three Dennis Tridents with Plaxton President bodywork that were acquired with the Blue Bus business in Bolton. Further ex-London vehicles have arrived in the form of DAF DB250s with Plaxton President bodywork and further Volvo B7TLs.
A single Northern Counties bodied DAF DB250 is the only remaining step entry vehicle in the fleet.
- Alexander Dennis Trident II
- Alexander Dennis Enviro400
- DAF DB250
- DAF DB250RS
- Dennis Trident 2
- VDL DB300
- Volvo B5L
- Volvo B7TL
The Dennis Dart SLF, along with its smaller variant, the MPD, still makes up a significant part of the fleet, accounting for around 130 vehicles. The last step-entrance Dennis Darts have been withdrawn. More recently, the VDL SB120 and SB200 have become the standard single deck types, the majority featuring Wright Cadet, Commander and Pulsar and Pulsar 2 bodywork; between them, these types now make up over a third of the fleet. Other new deliveries since 2007 have included ten Alexander Dennis Enviro300s, four Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Darts, fifteen Optare Solos and twenty six Optare Solo SRs.
The single deck fleet is entirely low floor.
- Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart
- Alexander Dennis Enviro300
- DAF SB220
- Dennis Dart SLF 8.8m/10.7m
- MAN 14.220
- MAN EcoCity
- Mercedes-Benz O530G
- VDL SB120
- Optare Solo
- Optare Solo SR
- VDL SB200CS
- Volvo B10BLE
- Volvo B7L
Unusual vehicles in the fleet include three Ikarus Polaris bodied DAF SB220s. These are the remaining examples out of seven that were acquired with the Blue Bus fleet, which accounted for a majority of those imported to the UK. There are also four MAN 14.220s with East Lancs Myllennium bodywork based at Bolton. Until October 2008, twelve Neoplan N4016 were operating on service 18A from Liverpool to Croxteth Park, and were the only vehicles of their type in Britain.
Speke depot received a total of ten Mercedes-Benz Citaro articulated buses from Arriva London in 2011. Two branded vehicles arrived for use on the AirLink 501 route in June 2011, and from September 2011, a further eight standard livery examples found use on service 699 between the University of Liverpool and Carnatic Halls. In November 2011, articulated vehicles were first used on the AirLink 500 route between Liverpool city centre and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Companies House extract company no 1990871 Arriva Merseyside Limited formerly Merseyside Transport Limited
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Companies House extract company no 523376 Arriva North West Limited formerly North Western Road Car Company Limited
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Arriva North West - History Arriva
- ↑ Companies House extract company no 2756786 British Bus Limited formerly British Bus plc
- ↑ Arriva news ukbusinesspark.co.uk
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- ↑ Arriva names managing director for Arriva Buses Wales Arriva 10 November 2008
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