Why bus company Badgerline had a positive impact in Salisbury

Our photograph this week was kindly sent in by Alan Clarke and shows the arrival of the new Badgerline bus service to Salisbury in June 1987.

In a blaze of publicity, comedy star Ronnie Corbett can be seen in the photo as he tours the city in an open topped double decker.

Badgerline’s fleet of coloured minibuses soon rose from the original eight to 25 and this put into force Salisbury’s unofficial battle of the buses.

Wilts and Dorset and Badgerline fought to woo potential customers with fast, frequent and comfortable services.

But Badgerline’s profits were hit when Wilts and Dorset invested half a million pounds in a fleet of 20 spanking new “Skipper” minibuses creating 35 new jobs.

Their aggressive reaction to the new rival cut Badgerline’s profits and forced the decision to withdraw.

Wilts and Dorset operations director Andrew Bryce said: “We are naturally delighted that the efforts of all our staff against severe competition have borne fruit.”

But in the short time they were here, Badgerline transformed Salisbury’s public traffic system and the situation for bus passengers had changed so drastically that it was unrecognisable.

Suddenly rival buses were queuing for passengers.

Strange new vehicles started appearing in places which hadn’t seen a bus for years.

Everywhere you looked there were little buses bustling through the streets.

The cynics said it could not last, that in a small town like Salisbury there finally had to be a winner and a loser, and one of them would have to go.

The cynics were proved right and after just nine months, Badgerline pulled out of the city with a loss of 50 jobs.

The Salisbury Journal commented: “We have good reason to be grateful to Badgerline for taking the risk of coming to the city. It gave the Wilts and Dorset bus company the kick up the exhaust pipe it so desperately needed!”

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Salisbury Journal | News