Service 382 in the current form can trace it’s roots back to Monday 4th January 1965, when BMMO introduced a new Service 382 between Worcester and Bredon to replace train services that were ended with the closure of a number of stations.
This early version of Service 382 was not considered successful and was withdrawn by Midland Red in 1971. Since that time it has been operated by a number of independent operators, with several changes to the route, before returning to Midland Red in 2012 when First Midland Red Buses Limited won a contract to operate evening journeys.
The route is often associated with Astons Coaches as it was operated by them for over 20-years. The company won the contract to operate the route from Hardings Coaches on Monday 26th January 1987, and at that time it continued past Eckington to Tewkesbury. On retendering in 1989, the Eckington to Tewkesbury section of the route was withdrawn, and in 1995 the route changed to include Wadborough village, but otherwise remained largely unchanged throughout its history.
In 2012, First Midland Red Buses Limited won a contract from Worcestershire County Council to operate Service 382 between Worcester, Eckington and Pershore on Friday and Saturday evenings. These services were withdrawn on Saturday 30th August 2014 when the contract came to an end, and were not replaced due to County Council budget cuts.
Until the end of August 2015, daytime journeys of Service 382 were operated by Astons Coaches. At that time they surrendered their registration and First Midland Red Buses Limited took over the service from Tuesday 1st September 2015 (the Monday was a Bank Holiday), operating to a reduced timetable with one journey in each direction every two hours during off-peak times. Short-working journeys between Worcester City Centre and Norton only were operated on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, replacing Service 32 between Worcester City Centre and St. Peter’s Estate.
Initially First Midland Red operated the same route that had been run by Astons Coaches, but this posed a number of problems as buses needed to turn round twice in Eckington, once near the Bell Inn then again at The Close. Also, buses crossed the narrow bridge over the River Avon between Defford Road and Eckington which is frequently closed during the winter due to flooding, meaning buses needed to take a lengthy diversion and operated to a completely different timetable. From Monday 11th April 2016 a new route into and out of Eckington was operated, based on the flood diversion running through Great Comberton, meaning less disruption during the winter and it also had the benefit of eliminating the need to turn around at The Close as buses now pass this as they enter and leave the village. At the same time, the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday short-working journeys were also withdrawn.
With low passenger numbers, First Midland Red reduced the number of journeys from Sunday 4th September 2016, with most off-peak journeys including all Saturday journeys being withdrawn. From the same date, there was also a minor route change with all journeys now running via Birlingham Church between Defford and Pershore. The cuts caused a number of complaints in the local newspaper and at a public meeting held at Pershore Town Hall on Thursday 13th October 2016, the First Midland Red Managing Director stated that following negotiations with Norton Parish Council a short-working journey between Worcester and Littleworth would be introduced on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. This would run from Wednesday 23rd November 2016 as an experiment for a trial period of three months to see if a permanent replacement was financially viable.
1 During floods when Eckington Bridge is closed, Service 382 runs direct between Defford and Pershore, omitting Eckington, then continue past Pershore to Eckington via Great Comberton.
2 On school days, certain journeys start or finish at Pershore High School, and run via the 2015 route omitting Great Comberton.