J is for JMB Travel

Saturday 6th May 2023

It may not be among the most well known bus companies in Britain, or even Scotland where it’s based (Wishaw just south of Motherwell) but now in its fifteenth year of operations, JMB Travel has carved out an impressive presence amid the otherwise domination of First Bus across Lanarkshire.

JMB Travel is jointly owned and run by Jennifer and Martin Bell – hence, I assume, the company name. Both are directors with Martin the designated Transport Manager and Jennifer the Finance Manager.

The company runs a leet of around 60 buses and coaches with half being buses used on commercial and tendered routes and the other half used on school contracts and private hire comprising coaches and double deck buses. The bus fleet was significantly enhanced last year with the delivery of nine brand new Volvo B8RLEs with eVoRa bodywork, all branded for use on the company’s busy and frequent – every 15 minutes Mondays to Fridays – flagship route 41 between Lanark, Carluke, Wishaw, Motherwell and Hamilton.

There are also five Enviro200s in the bus fleet, nine Mercedes Sprinters and six Optare Solos. There’s at least one BMC 220 Condor which was originally owned by First West Yorkshire but has now been reseated to seat 70 and is used on a school contract.

Five of the Optare Solos are painted in SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport) livery and I believe are owned by that authority for use on its tendered bus routes.

JMB Travel doesn’t have one bus network as such, more a presence in various locations mostly south of Glasgow where it has either picked up useful tendered work or has seen a commercial opportunity that can be operated efficiently from within reach of its Wishaw base.

Motherwell and East Kilbride are where most routes can be found so I paid a visit a couple of weeks ago to check out how the company performs on the road and find out a bit more about it.

It had been easy to find where and when JMB Travel’s routes run as the company has a very easy to use website using the tried and tested format devised by the tech company Passenger, including using its syndicated MyTrip app.

Each bus route is listed with a link to the standard bus tracking map and timetable as well as to a pdf timetable and map which are the base of attractive Best Impressions designed leaflets.

Aside from SPT tenders which have leaflets to that Authority’s format every route has a similarly designed leaflet with some acknowledging support from SPT presumably being a de-minimus arrangement rather than a full blown tender in the case of route 244 below.

The first thing I noticed on arrival in Motherwell was the smartness of those latest Volvo eVoRa buses.

The seating is very comfortable and the interiors have been designed to look attractive and welcoming…

… and there are clear next stop signs …

… as well as cove panels ….

…. although I didn’t notice anyone heeding the instruction to belt up even though seat belts were fitted. It just isn’t a thing on local bus journeys.

I made a couple of journeys on route 41 which, together with many others I saw during my visit, were very well patronised. It’s obviously a very successful route and timekeeping was excellent.

Another route I travelled on was the half hourly 5 between Motherwell and Bellshill three miles north of the town.

Two buses provide a half hourly service, except sadly one bus was missing the day I was there and the bus that was on the road was running around 15 minutes late. Luckily with easy to see vehicle tracking on the company’s website I realised all was not going well and altered my plans accordingly to minimise inconvenience but passengers on board the late running bus I caught weren’t happy.

It’s operated with one of the Enviro200s which had a previous life in London with a less impressive interior than the more recent eVoRas but still adequate for the purpose.

Another route JMB Travel operate in the Motherwell area is the SPT tendered hourly 93 from Carbarns to Netherton via Wishaw General Hospital.

I had a quick ride on part of this route which unsurprisingly didn’t carry many passengers as it serves a complimentary purpose to the main lines of route. It was one of the Optare Solos owned by SPT (I believe) and has an even more basic interior.

Motherwell also sees the hourly route 244 already mentioned running between North Lodge and Forgewood with a 25 minute running time and close by is hourly route 251 from Larkhall to Wishaw General Hospital.

An Enviro200 on route 244 passing through Motherwell

Elsewhere south of Glasgow, JMB Travel operate routes 29/29A from the Shawlands residential area, close to the superbly named rail station Crossmyloof, south to Newton Mearns with a half hourly frequency to Giffnock about half way along the route dropping to hourly for the rest of the route.

This is operated by two buses using the Mercedes Sprinters in the fleet and again seemed to be having trouble with timekeeping although my visit did coincide with school turning out time which probably was the reason for the bus arriving late in Shawlands for the 15:05 departure. Vehicle tracking showed it taking an age to return from Giffnock on its previous journey.

Other routes include the 13 between East Kilbride and Hamilton via Strathaven which is an evening and Sunday tender for SPT, route 14 is an hourly short ride (28 minutes) between Rutherglen and Fernhill, route 19A is another tendered Sunday hourly service, unusually to the north of the city centre from Glasgow to Robroyston. Route 46 is a three journey evening tender from Queenslie to Castlemilk, the 211 is an hourly tender from Motherwell to Airdrie as is the 226 to Little Earnock while the 227 and 228 are six journey Sunday tenders in the Hamilton area. In the Rutherglen area there’s also hourly route CG1 to Carmyle for SPT.

Hourly route 31B in East Kilbride is interesting in that it provides a connection for residents of Stewartfield with First Bus route 31 into Glasgow at Carmunnock and it’s good to see two operators cooperating to provide such an arrangement.

Finally there’s route M96 which is part of SPT’s Dial-A-Ride MyBus branded idea providing a bookable service by phone…

… for the Hamilton area …

… and which I saw one of JMB Travel’s own Mercedes Sprinters operating on during my visit possibly doing a driver changeover in Motherwell.

One cove panel in the new Volvo eVoRa single deck buses showed two un-numbered routes centred on Motherwell.

I easily worked out the light green one was route 41 but couldn’t find a reference to the yellow route between North Motherwell and Shotts anywhere on JMB Travel’s website. After a bit more research I found it was referring to a route now withdrawn, and quite a substantial route too. A leaflet dated July 2021 confirms forrmer route 56 ran every 15 minutes taking a substantial 10 buses to operate. I understand this was reduced to every 30 minutes reflecting a shortage of bus drivers but now the route has gone completely, leaving passengers to use First Bus instead.

It does show the entrepreneurial traits of the company and I came away impressed the business is obviously keen to provide a good bus service for residents across Lanarkshire and south Glasgow. It’s nice to see another family owned and run business doing well in the industry, especially in these tough times.

Roger French

Previous AtoZ blogs: Avanti West Coast, Blackpool Transport, Chiltern Railways, Delaine Buses, Ensignbus, Faresaver, Grand Central, Hull Trains, Ipswich Buses.

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS

6 thoughts on “J is for JMB Travel

Add yours

  1. A fwew years ago you’d have had the choice of Jim Stones and Johnsons as well. Tough times for independents.


  2. Sadly, a good company bedevilled with Driver shortages, still not cured by ditching the 56 it seems.


  3. I’ve been on them once a few years ago but not really through choice as I was at Lanark awaiting a train but there was electric wire problems so I got a JMB bus to Motherwell and I think a diesel XC train to Edinburgh from there.


  4. REL Capital Ltd

    They have been quietly buying up coach companies in London an the hone counties

    They currently own Redwings, Davian, John James Travel and two recent acquisitions are South Mimms Travel and Reg’s coaches another couple of acquisitions are in the pipeline


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