Worst bus service

The following story appeared in The Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile (first published in 1979):

Can any bus service rival the fine Haley to Bagnall route in Staffordshire? In 1976 it was reported that the buses no longer stopped for passengers.
This came to light when one of them, Mr. Bill Hancock, complained that buses on the outward journey regularly sailed past queues of up to thirty people.
Councillor Arthur Cholerton then made transport history by stating that if these buses stopped to pick up passengers they would disrupt the time-table.

Versions of the story have subsequently appeared in other books, and have circulated online. However, all these other versions seem to rely on Pile's reporting.

And when I searched newspaper archives I couldn't find any confirmation that this incident happened. Which makes me wonder if it really did.

Of course, it might have been reported in a local paper that was never archived online. But some searching around the Internet reveals that I'm not the only one to have wondered if the story might not be true. Check out this comment by "skifans" in the CasualUK subreddit:

it would be great if anyone can prove me wrong but I can't find any record online of councillor Arthur Cholerton existing - let along from that area in that time frame. If you google the name all the results return varieties of this story, there isn't any other record of what they did other then this.
This PDF of Staffordshire County Council elections also makes no mention of anyone of that name. A Cholerton stood (and won) a seat in 1973, 1977, 1981 and 1985 - and did not stand in future elections. The seat they stood in for the first to is Stoke On Trent No. 19 (9630), maybe someone knows how to work out where this is but I can't, but for the last 2 it's called Great Fenton - thats in Stoke but not the right area for a route between Hanley and Baghall, on Google maps Great Fenton looks to be just south of the city center and Hanley just to the north, with Bagnall being a small village further to the north east. But the bigger problem, Councillor Cholerton has the first initial F, not A.
There was also an Arthur Cholerton in Stoke, but not as a counciler. Someone with that name was Lord Mayor - but they held the position between 1971 and 1972. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lord_mayors_of_Stoke-on-Trent) Alternatively maybe F. Cholerton and Arthur Cholerton are the same person? Between 1981 and 1989 Frederick Arthur Cholerton held the position of chairmen of Staffordshire county council, may they have gone under both names? https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Your-council-and-democracy/Civic-and-Ceremonial/The-Chairman-of-the-county-council/Past-Chairmen.aspx
     Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 11, 2020
     Category: Mass Transit | 1970s | Bus

It is funny this characterized as the "worst bus service" when this happens by design in nearly all transit systems. If there are several buses serving on the same route they often skip stops in order to get more equally spaced. It would be aggravating to have the bus drive by while waiting but it would mean a later bus is also coming. The speeding by bus would simply be trying to maintain the timetable for later riders.

The story also mentions thirty people waiting for the bus. This is also a common reason for skipping stops, the bus is full. Transit systems will even ask riders to get off at a certain point and an impromptu "express" bus goes to common destination and drives by intermediate points which are now served by a much slower "local" service (which could also get full and cause compound aggravation).
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze on 03/11/20 at 09:39 AM
Living as I do in Stoke on Trent, I might be able to shed some light on the whole business. First of all, a word on geography: Stoke is weird, in that it is a confederation of six towns (Longton, Fenton, Stoke-Upon-Trent, Hanley, Burslem, and Tunstall), and so has no "city centre" as such, although these days Hanley is often described as such. Secondly, a Stoke on Trent Lord Mayor is chosen from among the councillors, so a Lord Mayor is automatically a member of the council. More information of Athur Cholerton can be found here: http://www.thepotteries.org/federation/062_cholerton.htm . He was councillor for Norton and Ball Green, and a bus service to Bagnall could pass through Norton, which suggests that there is at least some basis in fact. I have a friend who used to work for Stoke Council in the 1970s, I shall see if he knows anything further.
Posted by Gervase Charmley on 03/11/20 at 12:42 PM
Not being a Stoke native (I've only lived here for ten years), and in any case being too young to have had first-hand knowledge of this case, I've asked around some members of the congregation in Hanley where I am pastor, and they confirm that this definitely happened - over forty years later, it's still remembered locally. It was reported in the local press, and indeed made the national press at the time, but of course all that is only available online behind a paywall.
Posted by Gervase Charmley on 03/17/20 at 07:09 AM
@Gervase...Thank you for taking the time to verify this piece of history. Very good job!
Posted by Steve E. on 03/17/20 at 01:26 PM
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