Sunday, 24 July 2016

Torquay, UK

The town of Torquay lies on Torbay, on the south coast of England.  As well as being a popular holiday destination, the town is home to around 65,000 people.  As many people again live in the surrounding Torbay area, which includes the towns of Paignton and Brixham.  The area is also known as the English Riviera.

Buses: Stagecoach

A core network of bus services in Torquay and the surrounding area is operated by Stagecoach.

The backbone of the bus network is route 12.  This is a core, high frequency service linking Brixham, Paignton and Torquay, then heading inland to the town of Newton Abbot.

Double-deck buses are used on this service.

Most carry dedicated "hop 12" branding.



Although most buses carried the dedicated branding, I did note at least one which was unbranded.

As is usual in the UK, apart from in London, the buses have just one entrance/exit.

Several other routes converge on Torquay. 

Double-deck buses are used on two services which operate under the Stagecoach Gold brand.

Stagecoach Gold buses have higher-specification interiors compared to standard, which include leather seats and wi-fi.

Route X46 links Torquay with the city of Exeter about every 75-90 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays, with a more limited service during the evenings and on Sundays.

Local trains also link Torquay and Exeter, although Torquay's railway station is a short walk from the centre of the town.

The other Stagecoach Gold service runs from Torquay to Plymouth.  This service does not have a number, but is shown on publicity as "Gold".

As in several other parts of the United Kingdom, the route is advertised as operating in two sections with guaranteed connections.

Buses leave Torquay displaying "Totnes for Ivybridge and Plymouth" as their destination.  In reality, the same bus will run through to Plymouth, changing its display when it reaches Totnes.

The reason for this is legal regulations which govern drivers' hours.

Bus routes of less than 50 kilometres in length can operate under the UK's domestic regulations which are less stringent that the European Union standard rules which apply.

By advertising "Gold" as two routes connecting at Totnes, both sections of route are within the 50 kilometre limit, enabling them to operate under UK domestic regulations (even if the same bus and driver operate both sections).

"Gold" operates half-hourly on Mondays to Saturdays and hourly on Sundays, with a more limited service during the evenings.

A service runs north along the coast.  Leaving Torbay, it reaches the coastal towns of Teignmouth and Dawlish.  Buses run hourly

When I visited Torquay, at Easter 2016, this service was numbered 11.  Timetables showed route 11 branded as "hop 11", although I did not see this branding on any of the buses.


Since my visit, route 11 has been replaced by extending part of another service, the 22.


The 22 is one of several services which otherwise operate locally in and around Torquay.

I found a mix of double-deck and single-deck buses in use on these local routes.

In Paignton, buses converge on a bus station which includes a travel shop run by Stagecoach.

The bus station is close to the railway station.

Services running to or through Paignton from Torquay include the 12 and 22, and the "Gold".


There are a couple of other services operating locally within or from Paignton.

Two services operate locally within the town.  One is numbered 23.  I found a double-decker in use. 


The other service carries a name rather than a number.

The route is named "Fox", as it runs to and from the Foxhole housing estate.

Route 120 head south from Paignton, to Kingswear.

From Kingswear, ferries operate across the river to the town of Dartmouth.

At the southern end of Torbay is Brixham.  This is the terminus for route 12.

The bus provides a park-and-ride facility from a car park on the outskirts of the town.  The park-and-ride car park is privately operated.

Stagecoach also operate several other services in and around Brixham.

I found small single-deck buses being used on these services.

Route 17 is a local service operating within the town.

Routes 18 and 18A operate from Brixham over to Kingswear, for the ferry to Dartmouth.

There are also services 13 and 13B providing links from Brixham to Totnes and Newton Abbot.  The 13 and 13B do not operate at weekends.

Buses: other operators

The Stagecoach website does not acknowledge the presence of other providers of bus services in Torbay.  Nevertheless, other operators do provide services.

Several services are operated by Local Link in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

These generally complement the Stagecoach network, providing links which Stagecoach does not.

Small single-deck buses are used.



The images above were taken in Torquay.  This one to the right was taken in Brixham.

A third operator serving Brixham is Country Bus, who provide two local routes within the town.

I found a small single-decker in use. 

Fares and tickets 

As is usual in the UK, single fares are generally only available for journeys which can be undertaken on one bus.  If your journey involves changing bus, through fares are not available.

There is also little through ticketing between bus and local train services.  The PlusBus ticket can be added on to a train ticket for £3, allowing unlimited travel on the day of validity on local bus services within Torbay.  However, it can not be bought on local buses.

Single fares can be expensive.  I found a single fare from Torquay to Paignton was £2.70, for a journey of around 5 kilometres.  However, both Stagecoach and Local Link offer an all-day ticket covering travel within the Torbay area for £4.90.  It appears that this can be used interchangeably between both operators.  Weekly and longer period tickets are also available.

I have found no information to state whether these all-day tickets can be used on Country Bus in Brixham, nor does Country Bus' website give any information about their fares.

Stagecoach also offer one-day, weekly and period tickets covering their services across south west England.  These cover the whole of routes X46 and Gold, which run beyond the limits of the Torbay area tickets.

Brixham by boat

Although Stagecoach bus 12 provides a frequent link between Torquay and Brixham, the journey can also be made across the bay by boat.  Two operators link Torquay and Brixham.

Western Lady operates during the daytime, with a more frequent service during high season.  Brixham Express operate an all-year-round service, six days a week, aimed partly at commuter traffic.  Brixham Express does not operate on Sundays.

This service was intended to be operated with a catamaran, however there were delays in getting the vessel in to service.  It finally entered service in July 2016.  Smaller craft had been operating in the interim.

Buses for visitors

Rail & River Link operate a service which connects with steam trains at Paignton, and with river boats at Totnes.  The bus service is aimed primarily at visitors and leisure travellers, although it is available for local journeys.

During the summer, open-top double-deck buses are used.  At Easter, however, the service was being provided with standard double-deckers.

Unusually for the UK, the buses have centre exit doors.  This is a clue that they originally operated on London's bus network where this layout is standard.

Steam trains and boat trips

Rail River Link also operate the steam railway from Paignton, which runs to Kingswear...

... and boat trips from Torquay harbour round to the River Dart.


Rail River Link tickets offer various combinations of journeys on their buses, trains and boats for a day trip.  Certain tickets can also be used on Stagecoach route 12 on payment of a supplement.

More for tourists

During the summer months, English Riviera Sightseeing Tours provide an open-top sightseeing tour of Torbay on days when the weather is good.  This service was not operating when I visited Torquay.  The operator does not appear to have its own website, but information and images are available on local tourist information sites here and here.
Less elusive is the land train which also caters to tourists visiting Torquay.

A cliff railway

On the coast just to the north of Torquay lies Babbacombe.

Here, a funicular railway descends from the cliff top to the beach.


The cliff railway operates daily for much of the year, although it appears to be closed from Christmas until late February.


Unsurprisingly, as a popular tourist destination, plenty of coaches can be seen visiting Torbay.

In many cases, they may be operating organised holidays from elsewhere in the UK. 

Finally, there are also scheduled coach services to Torquay, Paignton and Brixham from a number of other towns and cities in England.  These are provided by National Express.