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Buses in Swindon have been the major method of Public Transport in the region since the beginning of the 20th century.
Introduced in 1927 and replacing the tram system in 1929, the area is now served by numerous operators.
Motor-bus operation started in 1927 and two years later all the trams were replaced by this form of transport. In 1942 Swindon became one of the first authorities to take delivery of the "Arab" made by Guy Motors. One of these, No. 51 (DHR 192), is now preserved at RAF Wroughton near Swindon which is an Annex of the National Museum of Science and Industry and open to the public on certain days of the year.
On local government re-organisation in the early 1970s the name was changed to Thamesdown Transport under which it operates to this day.
Rural and inter-urban bus services around Swindon were mainly operated by Bristol Tramways (later known as Bristol Omnibus Company), which established a branch in Swindon in 1921. Bristol became part of the National Bus Company, and in 1983 the Swindon branch was transferred to a new company, Cheltenham & Gloucester Omnibus Company, operating in Swindon under the name Swindon and District. Cheltenham & Gloucester was sold to its management in 1986, and absorbed into the Stagecoach Group as Stagecoach in Swindon in 1993.
Before 1966 Swindon had no bus station, and buses departed from street stops in and around Regent Circus. The first Bus Station was opened in 1966 on the site of the Tram station in Corporation Street. Following expansion it eventually took up most of the land between Manchester Road and Fleming Way.
The main Bus Station area was demolished in the 1980s on construction of the current facility, with the old site being redeveloped into office accommodation now used by Zurich Financial Services.
It predominantly acts as a Terminus for buses serving destinations outside of the Swindon Urban Area or non-frequent services. It is also used as a Coach Station, with services for National Express, Megabus and international services leaving from here. In recent years, following increased immigration from Eastern European countries, regular services to Poland have been introduced.
In 2004, Swindon Borough Council announced the proposed redevelopment of the Town Centre area including the Bus Station. Thamesdown Transport moved from their Corporation Street home to a new facility at Barnfield in 2005, with the land earmarked for conversion to commercial properties. As well as town centre offices, the project area also makes provision for housing, shops, cafes and restaurants. The plans announced would lead to the demolition of all buildings in this area, including the current Bus Station, and also the change in use of Fleming Way to public transport use only. A new Bus Station development is part of the proposal. In April 2011, several bus services were diverted to the Bus Station instead of their stops to allow for roadworks which are removing the Whalebridge roundabout at the top of Fleming Way.
Bus stands were erected in Fleming Way with a subway under the road linking Northbound and Southbound stops. This area is used as a major through-stop by services traversing the town that are operated by Thamesdown Transport or Stagecoach in Swindon.
AD Rains provides services to Royal Wootton Bassett, Ashton Keynes and Crudwell from the Bus Station, AD Rains also operate a service X70 from Swindon to Marlborough on College days.
APL Travel provide services to Lechlade and Fairford, from the bus Station.
Go Ride Berkshire, who are a CIC have taken over parts of the 47 from Thamesdown Transport between Swindon and Lambourne as their service 90
National Express provide nationwide coach travel from the Bus Station.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire were re-awarded the contract for the 64 service after RH Transport ceased trading.
Stagecoach West operate in West and North Swindon and in rural areas. The company also provides a Sunday service on some Thamesdown routes. This is indicated on the timetable by SS above the buses scheduled departure time.
Thamesdown Transport operate the majority of Swindon's urban services and school buses. They also provide the Hospital Express (for the Great Western Hospital) and contract lunchtime link services to companies such as Thames Water. Services terminate at both the Bus Station and Fleming Way.
Thames Travel have taken over the X47 from Ridgeway Coaches to provide services to Wantage on a Saturday.
The majority of tickets purchased on Thamesdown Transport and Stagecoach in Swindon services are honoured by both operators. For more information on fares and tickets offered, refer to the individual operators' article.