The Cardiff Bus Story

It all began in 1902, when the Corporation of Cardiff started running electric powered trams in the city between Newport Road and the city centre. The Corporation had taken over the private Cardiff Tramway Company which had run horse trams and buses since 1870, although other operators had been running horse buses in the area since at least 1845.

Until 1943, conductors were employed to collect the fares, but that year all tramcars were converted to run with a pay-as-you enter system without a conductor - like modern buses today. Then you paid just one old penny for any distance. No ticket was issued, but in 1949 the fare did go up by a halfpenny. Trams actually lasted right through to 1950, when trolleybuses (buses that took their electrical power from overhead lines) eventually replaced them, the first trolleybuses having been introduced in 1942.
Cardiff was unusual in that it had single-deck trolleybuses as well as double-deckers, due to several low bridges in the docks area.

From 1962 motor buses began to replace the trolleys, and the last trolleybus ran in Cardiff in 1970. Motor buses were operated since the early part of the 20th century, too. Early motorbus journeys would have been rather uncomfortable as pneumatic tyres were not fitted until 1924, and the top decks stayed open to the weather until roofs were first provided in 1925.

All sorts of different makes were bought, but from the early 1930s right through to just after the Second World War, the manufacturer AEC was favoured, the same company that built many of London’s buses in those days.

Traditionally buses in Cardiff were crimson and cream, but in the 1970s this was changed to orange and white. Although the first ‘driver only’ buses had been seen as long ago as 1923, one-person-operation on a large scale really began in the 1970s, with the Snowden Road route the last to lose its conductors in 1980.

Although Cardiff had small buses before, it was in the 1980s that the minibus phenomenom gained momentum, and Cardiff’s Clipper buses could be seen all over the city. Probably a good idea at the time, the swing back to larger buses was inevitable, and during the 1990s the idea of making buses easier to use for everyone soon took hold. Buses without steps - what we call ‘low-floor’ - began to replace older types, and now in Cardiff all our buses are low-floor, even our latest double-deckers.

The familiar Cardiff Bus green first appeared in 1999, and we bought our first bendybuses in 2006, adding a touch of European style to our capital city. We now carry 100,000 passengers every day on 3,000 journeys covering 27,000 miles. That’s an annual equivalent of going to the moon and back 20 times! Cardiff bus is busier than ever today, providing capital transport for our capital city.