The Rise and Fall of Minibuses 1970s–1990s
- Malcolm Batten
15th March 2022
There have always been small buses used by bus companies for a variety of reasons, but in the 1970s a number of companies employed van-derived minibuses on experimental services such as Dial-a Ride schemes. These were small-scale operations.
From around 1984 the majority of British bus companies started buying minibuses in bulk. They began replacing full-size vehicles and soon whole town local networks were being converted to their use. At first these continued to be on small, van-derived chassis – Ford, Freight-Rover and Mercedes-Benz – seating around sixteen passengers, but soon larger, purpose-built vehicles began to appear from companies sometimes unfamiliar to the British bus market. There were also attempts to produce ‘midibuses’ – larger than a minibus but smaller than a full-size bus.
By the mid-1990s the boom had come to an end. Larger vehicles started to replace many of these minibuses. Although modern accessible minibuses are still produced and still have a role to play, it is a far cry from their heyday.
This book looks back at the rise and fall of the minibus in British bus services.