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A Century of Transport - Peace Brings Boom Time for Buses
The years immediately after the war saw people wanting to get out and about but there was fuel rationing and new cars were hard to obtain as much production was earmarked for export as part of a national endeavour to repay wartime debt. 1940s public transport, still heavily dependent on tired prewar vehicles, had to take the strain and long queues were not the best message to promote future bus travel.
Midland Red had, by 1950, received several hundred new buses and most had been used to expand services. Bus operators were on top of the demand but it was not to last. The emerging prosperity of the 1950s would prove not to be good for the bus industry. The fortunes of the bus operators changed from an all-time peak in 1950 to something rather less encouraging by the end of the decade.
There were several increases in fuel tax and fares had to rise. The Coronation of the new Queen in June 1953 was shown live on television and everybody aspired to own one. This was disastrous for the cinema industry and, along with it, evening bus travel. Buses were thus only running at a profit over a shorter period of the day and the cycle of fare rises continued. This in turn caused further passenger loss to cars, now available in quantity. By the end of the decade, the fortunes of the bus industry were far less rosy and economies rather than increases were now the preoccupation of managers, along with growing traffic congestion which was hampering reliability.
©Copyright 2018 Malcolm Keeley for the Transport Museum, Chapel Lane, Wythall, Worcestershire B47 6JA, England.
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