Stagecoach Group

Stagecoach Group
Stagecoach Group
Stagecoach Group logo.png
Stagecoach Group services mosaic.jpg
Stagecoach Group is a provider of bus, rail, and tram transport in the UK, and is an operator of bus and tour services in the United States and Canada.
Owner Publicly owned (LSESGC)
Locale United Kingdom, United States, Canada
Transit type Local and express bus service, intercity bus service, franchise rail and tram service, sightseeing service
Chief executive Brian Souter (CEO)
Robert Spiers (chairman)
Headquarters Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom
Began operation 1980
Operator(s) See article below
Stagecoach Group
Revenue increase £2,164.4 million GBP
Operating income increase £192.0 million GBP
Net income increase £134.1 million GBP
Employees 27,000

Stagecoach Group plc (LSESGC) is an international transport group operating buses, trains, trams, express coaches and ferries. The group was founded in 1980 by the current chairman, Sir Brian Souter,[2] his sister, Ann Gloag, and her former husband Robin. The group is based in Perth, Scotland, and has operations in the United Kingdom and North America.

With 16% of the bus market and 25% of the rail market, including its 49% stake in Virgin Trains, and being the largest operator of light rail services, the company is the second largest transport firm in the United Kingdom, close behind First Group. Stagecoach operates around 8,100 vehicles and covers over 90 major towns and cities in Great Britain, carrying around 2.5 million passengers daily. Stagecoach UK Bus employs 18,000 people.

In North America, Stagecoach owns the Coach USA and Coach Canada brands, although the Western and South Central units of the company have been sold to a two different private equity firms, now Coach America and American Coach, with other companies sold to Peter Pan and being rebranded under that name.

Operations in Kenya, Malawi, Portugal, Sweden, Hong Kong and New Zealand have been sold. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.



Stagecoach was born of deregulation in the British express coach market in the early 1980s, though its roots can be traced back to 1976 when Ann Gloag and her husband Robin set up a small motor caravan and minibus hire business called Gloagtrotter. Ann's accountant brother Brian Souter joined the firm and expanded the business into bus hire. Robin Gloag subsequently sold his shareholding in the business and ceased any involvement in 1982 with the collapse of his marriage to Ann. The Transport Act 1980, which freed express services of 35 miles and over from regulation by the Traffic Commissioner, brought new opportunities for the Perth-based company and services were launched from Dundee to London using second-hand Neoplan coaches. For a while, they offered a very personal service with Brian Souter doing the driving and Ann Gloag making up sandwiches and snacks for the passengers. Successfully competing against the then state-owned National Express and Scottish Citylink, the company grew significantly between 1981 and 1985, when Stagecoach entered local bus operation with the acquisition of McLennan Of Spittalfield, near Perth. Its early success allowed Stagecoach to take advantage of the privatisation of the national bus groups. Several firms were purchased from the National Bus Company, Scottish Bus Group, London Buses and various city councils. The company consolidated its operations during the 1990s by purchasing management and employee owned bus companies, often ex-NBC and SBG firms where the owners were keen to make a huge profit on their sale. Stagecoach left the long distance express coach market in 1988 when it sold its operations to National Express.

Semi-preserved Stagecoach East 19953, a 1966 Bristol Lodekka FLF6G at the 2008 Isle of Wight Bus Museum running day.

In 1996 Porterbrook was sold as in a management-employee buyout and subsequently bought by Stagecoach. Porterbrook is one of the three major Rolling Stock Companies in the United Kingdom which was created in 1994 as part of the privatisation of British Rail, it owns around a third of passenger railway locomotives, multiple units and coaching stock running on Network Rail's system which it leases to various train operators. In April 2000 Abbey National bought Porterbrook from Stagecoach for £773 million.[3]

In 1997, the Stagecoach Group won the franchise to operate the Sheffield Supertram system, from South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd, an arm of the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, who own the system. The Group bought the remaining 27 years of a 30 year franchise, which expires in 2024, and run the operation under the Stagecoach Supertram brand, having responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the tram system. When Stagecoach took over the system, it was struggling, both financially and in terms of attracting passengers, but it now an extremely popular and successful operation.[4]

Stagecoach took another turn in 1998, when it purchased Scotland's Prestwick Airport for £41 million. By the summer of 1999, the company was rumoured to have been offered some £80 million for Prestwick. They sold the airport in January 2001 to concentrate on surface transport.[5]

A Stagecoach London vehicle operating on London Buses route 30 was destroyed in the 7 July 2005 London bombings and a second was targeted 21 July 2005 London bombings, operating on London Buses route 26. Both buses were bound for Hackney. In a tribute to those who lost their lives in the attack, Stagecoach London dedicated a new Alexander Dennis Enviro400, "The Spirit Of London", to London Buses route 30, replacing the vehicle destroyed. The bus was unveiled by the Mayor of London in a ceremony on 3 October 2005.[6]

On 21 November 2005 Stagecoach announced the sale of its New Zealand operations to Infratil for NZ$250.5m (£100m; US$171.6m).[7]

On 14 December 2005 Stagecoach purchased Barnsley-based Traction Group (Yorkshire Traction) for £26m, and also assume Traction's £11m debt. Traction operated 840 buses in South and West Yorkshire (Yorkshire Traction, Barnsley & District, Yorkshire Terrier), Lincolnshire (RoadCar) and Angus (Strathtay Scottish). Traction was the largest remaining privately owned independent bus operator in the UK.[8]

Following the sale of its London bus operations to Macquarie Bank in 2006, Stagecoach UK Bus concentrated on the bus market outside the UK capital, focusing on organic growth and exploring acquisition options.

In September 2005, following competition with its Megabus coach operation, Stagecoach launched a joint venture with Scottish Citylink coaches. After a competition enquiry, in October 2006 Stagecoach was instructed to sell some of the Scottish coach services.[9]

Stagecoach are also active in the rail industry, currently operating the South West Trains franchise (extended for 10 years from February 2007) and having a 49% stake in Virgin Trains. In 2007 the group won the right to take over the part of the old Central Trains franchise and the Midland Mainline franchise, creating the new East Midlands Trains operation.[10]

In November 2006, Stagecoach was shortlisted to submit a final bid to operate the Manchester Metrolink tram network. On 3 April 2007 it was announced that the Group were the preferred bidders for the tram and infrastructure maintenance and operation after Serco ended its service during 2007. On 30 May Stagecoach signed the 10 year contract, which started in July 2007.[11] It is believed that the Group's experience with, and successful operation of, the Sheffield tram system was a factor in the final decision.

In January 2009, Stagecoach bought Preston Bus, a former rival in the Lancashire area.[12] Which it later sold to Rotala plc in early 2011, after being order to be the Competition Commission.

In October 2010 Stagecoach expanded further by re-acquiring East London Bus Group, Stagecoach's former London bus operations.[13]

In August 2011, Stagecoach sold its Manchester Metrolink to French state-owned transport group RATP. The company was half way through its ten year contract to operate the network.[14]


Key people

Stagecoach Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange, though company Chairman Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag are the largest shareholders in Stagecoach. Ms Gloag no longer has an executive role in the company.

Souter and Gloag's involvement in bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis (the former Transbus International), and Souter's previously owned stake in ScotAirways are not related to the Stagecoach Group.

Senior management

  • Sir George Mathewson - Non-executive Chairman
  • Sir Brian Souter - Chief Executive
  • Martin Griffiths - Finance Director
  • Ewan Brown - Non Executive Director
  • Ann Gloag - Non Executive Director
  • Phil White - Non Executive Director
  • Helen Mahy - Non Executive Director
  • Garry Watts - Non Executive Director


Group Structure (from 1 September 2011).[15]

Stagecoach Group
UK Bus
North America
National Transport
East Scotland (including Strathtay)
West Scotland
North East
South Lancashire &
Virgin Trains
East Midlands
East Midlands
Cumbria & North Lancashire
West Coast
South West
Cambridge &
East Kent
South West
South Yorkshire

UK operating companies

The following is a breakdown of the Stagecoach operating divisions. The centre of each operating region is shown in parentheses. Legal company names are listed alongside the trading names for that company.

Bus division

  • Stagecoach Devon - Stagecoach controls operations in Devon through Stagecoach Devon, consisting of (as of May 2003) Stagecoach Devon Limited. The trading name of these operations is Stagecoach in Devon. The headquarters are in Exeter.
  • Stagecoach East Midlands - Stagecoach controls operations in the East Midlands area through Stagecoach East Midlands. Comprising Lincolnshire Road Car Co Ltd, Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport Ltd, Cleveland Transit Ltd(Hull depot) and East Midland Motor Services Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Bassetlaw, Stagecoach in Mansfield, Stagecoach in South Yorkshire, Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes, Stagecoach in Hull and Stagecoach in Lincolnshire. The headquarters are in Lincoln.
  • Stagecoach East Scotland - Stagecoach controls operations in the east of Scotland through Stagecoach East Scotland, comprising Fife Scottish Omnibuses Ltd, AA Buses Ltd, Bluebird Buses Ltd, JW Coaches Ltd, Rennie's of Dunfermline Ltd, Stagecoach Scotland Ltd and Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Perth, Stagecoach Bluebird, Stagecoach in Fife and Strathtay. It also operated the new Forth Fast hovercraft service from Kirkcaldy to Portobello. The headquarters are in Kirkaldy as of 2009.
  • Stagecoach Highlands - Stagecoach controls operations in the Scottish Highlands after the takeover of The Rapsons Group (Orkney Coaches/Highland Country Buses) in 2008, adding to the network already operated in the City of Inverness by Stagecoach, consisting of Highland Country Buses Limited. It trades as Stagecoach in Orkney (Kirkwall depot & outstations), Stagecoach in Lochaber (Fort William depot), Stagecoach in Skye (Portree depot & outstation), Stagecoach in Inverness (Aviemore, Inverness and Tain depots) and Stagecoach in Caithness (Thurso depot & outstations). The headquarters are in Inverness.
  • Stagecoach North East - Stagecoach controls operations in the north east of England through Stagecoach North East, comprising Busways Travel Services Ltd and Cleveland Transit Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach on Teesside, Stagecoach in Hartlepool, Stagecoach in Newcastle, Stagecoach in South Shields and Stagecoach in Sunderland. The headquarters are in Sunderland.
  • Stagecoach North West - Stagecoach controls most operations in the north west of England through Stagecoach North West, comprising Cumberland Motor Services Ltd and Ribble Motor Services Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Cumbria, Stagecoach in Lancaster and Stagecoach in Lancashire. The headquarters are in Carlisle.
  • Stagecoach Manchester - Stagecoach controls operations in Greater Manchester through Stagecoach Manchester, comprising Greater Manchester Buses (South) Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Manchester and Magic Bus. The headquarters are in Manchester.
  • Stagecoach Merseyside - Stagecoach controls operations in the Merseyside and Liverpool areas through Stagecoach Merseyside. The legal names of the group is Glenvale Transport Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Merseyside and Magic Bus. The headquarters are in Liverpool.
  • Stagecoach Sheffield - Stagecoach controls bus and tram operations in the Sheffield area of England through Stagecoach Sheffield, comprising Yorkshire Terrier, South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd and Andrews (Sheffield) Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Sheffield and Stagecoach Supertram. The headquarters are in Sheffield.
  • Stagecoach East Kent & East Sussex - Stagecoach controls operations in East Kent and East Sussex through Stagecoach East Kent & East Sussex, comprising the East Kent Road Car Company Limited, Hastings & District Transport Ltd, Eastbourne Buses Ltd and Cavendish Motor Services Ltd. Fleetnames include Stagecoach in Eastbourne, Stagecoach in Hastings and Stagecoach in East Kent. The additional Stagecoach in East Sussex name is used on joint Eastbourne & Hastings publicity but is not carried on vehicles. The headquarters are in Canterbury.
  • Stagecoach Oxfordshire - Stagecoach controls operations in Oxfordshire area through Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, comprising Thames Transit Ltd and Midland Red (South) Ltd (Banbury depot). Trading names include Stagecoach in Oxfordshire and Oxford Tube. The headquarters are in Oxford.
  • Stagecoach Wales or Stagecoach de Cymru / South Wales - Stagecoach controls operations in Wales through Stagecoach Wales, comprising Red & White Services Ltd, The Valleys Bus Co Ltd, Aberdare Bus Co Ltd, Rhondda Buses Ltd, Parfitts Motor Services Ltd, Islwyn Borough Transport Ltd and Crosskeys Coach Hire Ltd. The trading name for these operations is Stagecoach in South Wales and Stagecoach de Cymru. The headquarters are in Cwmbran.
  • Stagecoach West - Stagecoach controls operations in the West of England through Stagecoach West, comprising Cheltenham District Traction Company Ltd, Swindon & District Bus Company Ltd and Cheltenham & Gloucester Omnibus Company Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Cheltenham, Stagecoach in Swindon, Stagecoach in Gloucester, Stagecoach in the Cotswolds, Stagecoach in the Wye and Dean. The headquarters are in Gloucester.
  • Stagecoach West Scotland - Stagecoach controls operations in the west of Scotland through Stagecoach West Scotland, comprising Western Buses Ltd and Stagecoach Glasgow Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach Western, Stagecoach A1 Service, Stagecoach in Glasgow. The headquarters are in Ayr.
  • Stagecoach Yorkshire - Stagecoach controls operations in the Yorkshire area through Stagecoach Yorkshire, comprising Yorkshire Traction Co Ltd, Chesterfield Transport Ltd and Barnsley & District Traction Co Ltd. Trading names include Stagecoach in Yorkshire and Stagecoach in Chesterfield. The headquarters are in Barnsley.


Apart from the ordinary bus operations and no-frills services, the UK bus division has the following brands that extend across operating divisions.

  • Stagecoach Express - an express coach service that operates mainly between towns and cities where Stagecoach operate (e.g. Sheffield to Chesterfield) It tends not to compete with National Express like Megabus, and in some cases tickets are available through the National Express website.
  • Oxford Tube - an express coach service offering high frequency 24-hour services to London, operated by Stagecoach Oxfordshire in competition with Oxford Bus Company's Espress service.
  • Citi - some urban networks have received Citi branding, such as Cambridge, Preston and Gloucester.
  • Goldline - a luxury bus service brand designed to attract middle class motorists.

Rail Division

  • Island Line Trains - Island Line, the rail system for the Isle of Wight, has also been operated by Stagecoach since privatisation and was merged into the South West franchise in 2007.[17] By 2016, when the South West franchise is due to end, the rolling stock will be over 80 years old.
  • Virgin Trains - the group has a 49% stake in Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast Main Line franchise, and formerly owned the Cross Country franchise, but due to the recent Midlands reshuffle the Cross Country franchise was lost to Arriva. The West Coast franchise is due to end by 2012.

Light Rail Division

Stagecoach Supertram - Stagecoach has operated the Sheffield Supertram under a concession from the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive since 1997.[19] Its average daily ridership is 33,700, equalling more than 12 million per year, well above expectations. There are currently three lines, and future plans include schemes to Rotherham, Dore, Fulwood and Maltby. However, following consultations, a reduced scheme with extensions to Rotherham and Broomhill is being considered[1].

North American operating companies

Stagecoach employs 4,400 people and operates a fleet of 2,800 coaches in the northeastern and midwestern United States and in eastern Canada. Businesses are focused on commuter services, and include tour and charter, sightseeing, local, and school bus operations. Operations in North America are exclusively bus operations.

  • Coach USA - operating primarily in the northeastern United States providing subsidized transit services (primarily in Greater New York), sightseeing, and charter services, and in the midwestern United States with primarily charter and sightseeing services. Yellow school bus services are also provided by Coach USA in the state of Wisconsin.
  • Megabus - discount express bus services radiating from Chicago and New York City. Like Megabus in the United Kingdom, most stops are made at street locations. Details are listed in the Megabus section below.
  • Coach Canada - serving primarily Ontario and Quebec, where it operates interurban and chartered bus services, contract bus services in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada, yellow school bus service in Durham Region and Peterborough County in Ontario, and sightseeing services in Montreal.

Former operations

Stagecoach Rail

In 1992, shortly before the privatisation of British Rail, Stagecoach Rail briefly operated a modest intercity operation between Aberdeen and London. Two British Railways Mark 2 passenger carriages were re-branded in Stagecoach colours and attached to a scheduled British Rail Intercity service.[20]


Stagecoach purchased the East London and Selkent divisions of London Buses, which operated tendered services for London Transport. Deciding to focus on organic growth for its UK bus operations, and citing the inflexibility of the London tendering system, the London bus operations were sold to Macquarie Bank on 31 August 2006 for £263.6m. Macquarie continued to use the Stagecoach brand for a limited period under licence, and Stagecoach provided administrative and other support functions for a transitional period of 12 months from the sale. The operations have now been rebranded into their original East London and Selkent identities, albeit updated. In October 2010 Stagecoach reacquired its old London operations from Macquarie.


In July 2007 Stagecoach took over the operation of Manchester Metrolink on a 10-year fixed-term management contract, beating competition from Serco and Govia, to make it the biggest tram operator in the UK.[21][22] This system was the first modern tram system in the United Kingdom, opening just before the Sheffield system in 1992. Nearly 18 million people ride on the system a year, compared with five million on National Express Group's Midland Metro which has a higher catchment area, serving Birmingham the second most populated city in England, and stretching as far as Wolverhampton. Stagecoach sold the Metrolink business to RATP Group on 1 August 2011.[23]

New Zealand

A Stagecoach-liveried trolleybus in Wellington, New Zealand

Stagecoach New Zealand was a wholly owned part of the Stagecoach Group, which provided bus services in Auckland, Wellington and the Hutt Valley and nine ferry routes in Auckland. It was the largest bus company in New Zealand when sold. Stagecoach NZ started operations when the firm acquired Wellington City Transport Ltd, including the Hutt Valley suburban bus operations of the New Zealand Railways Road Services, branded CityLine, in the 1990s. Following this initial acquisition Stagecoach also purchased Eastbourne Buses, The Yellow Bus Company in Auckland and a controlling interest in Fullers Auckland. Before selling the business Stagecoach operated more than 900 buses and nine ferries in New Zealand and employed more than 2000 people.

In November 2005 Infratil Limited purchased Stagecoach New Zealand from Stagecoach Group. They are rebranding all the former Stagecoach operations, to be completed by 2010 when the deal to use the Stagecoach name expires.


In 1993, during Stagecoach's International buying spree, it made its most important international acquisition at the time, buying Swebus, the bus-company arm of the Swedish state railway, for 1.2 billion kronor ($164 million). Mr. Souter called it "the most important deal of the year in terms of our company's long-range development" and promised more. Stagecoach in 1998 announced that it had bid for several rail franchises in Sweden. On 28 October 1999 Stagecoach revealed that it was going to sell Swebus to Concordia Bus Sweden for £100m, in order to refocus its bus operation on the United States and Asia. This left Arriva as the only British-based operator of public transport services in Sweden.


In November 1991, Stagecoach Holdings Limited (as it was named then) bought United Transport’s share holding in Kenya Bus Services Limited. During its tenure, Stagecoach rapidly expanded the fleet, introducing the Express Services and the modern double decker buses back on Kenyan roads.

In October 1998, a consortium of investors led by Mr. Karanja Kabage as Chairman acquired Kenya Bus Services Limited from Stagecoach Holdings which owned 95% of the business.

Hong Kong

MAN HP6440 bus on route 11 in Hong Kong with Stagecoach livery

In 1994, Stagecoach created a bus-operating subsidiary in Hong Kong which operated residential bus services. It ceased operation in April 1996.

In 1999, Stagecoach planned to become the largest bus company in China through joint ventures, equity stakes and partnerships, and confirmed the £181m acquisition of Hong Kong's Citybus. Stagecoach acquired control of Citybus Group Limited in March 1999 and completed the privatisation of Citybus on 17 July 1999. Citybus is the second largest franchise bus operator in Hong Kong and provides franchised bus services on Hong Kong Island and to and from Hong Kong International Airport. It also provided a number of non-franchise services throughout Hong Kong, including express daily coach services between residential developments and city/town centres. In addition, Citybus operates a small number of metropolitan bus services in Mainland China.

In a surprise move, the company was acquired by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, the parent company of the major rival operator New World First Bus, in June 2003, even though it was once touted as the gateway to Stagecoach's expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, although Stagecoach commented that "combination of the uncertainties about the economic climate in Hong Kong, the growing levels of regulation to which the business is becoming subject and the inability to grow profit without very significant investment or critical mass synergies required it to take very seriously the approach and to negotiate terms which were in the best interests of Stagecoach shareholders". Citybus had 1,200 buses across 113 routes on Hong Kong Island and 22 services to the airport at the time of the sale. It made an operating profit before goodwill amortisation of £19m in the year to April on turnover of £133m, the lion's share of the overseas bus division. The sale netted Stagecoach £132m after third-party debt. Stagecoach have since ditched their plans on extending to Asia, and have sold off their operations in mainland China.


Stagecoach ballbus.png

Stagecoach Portugal had its origins in the reprivatization of Portuguese bus and coach operation, which had been nationalized after the 1974 Revolution. In 1990, the nationalized Rodoviária Nacional was split into ten components. In the capital, Lisbon was the chief operator outside the city itself, where Carris provided city bus and tram services.

The name of Rodoviária de Lisboa survived as part of the Barraqueiro bus company, but another part, serving the area to the west of Lisbon, became Stagecoach Portugal in 1995. A further portion still operates as Vimeca - Viação Mecânica de Carnaxide. In June 2001 Stagecoach announced the sale of their Portuguese operations to ScottURB for £14 million (generating £6 million surplus for Stagecoach), even though turnover and operating profit for the year ended 30 April 2000 had been £6.8 million and £1.1 million respectively. At that time, Stagecoach Portugal operated 135 buses on 60 routes in the area west of Lisbon, carrying 27 million people per annum.[24]

No-frills brands

Stagecoach operate a number of so-called "no-frills" services across the United Kingdom and the United States. Applying the business model of the low-cost carrier air lines, these services aim to offer cheaper alternatives to the established operators in the bus, coach and rail markets, by reducing costs, and offering extremely low fares for the earliest bookings, rising nearer the journey time. This has caused many other companies, most notably National Express, to lower their fares.


Megabus is a low cost, "no-frills" intercity bus service launched in the United Kingdom by Stagecoach in 2003, on 10 April 2006 in the United States, and in 2009 within Canada. Its main rival in the UK is National Express, who have had to lower their prices to compete with Megabus. In the US, Megabus/Eastern Shuttle's main rival is BoltBus, which is 50% owned by Stagecoach rival FirstGroup. In the UK, the Megabus network covers most of the island of Great Britain, although some routes offer only one journey per day. Originally operated using high capacity but older coach seated buses, most services are now operated with new modern single or double deck coaches. In the United States, services radiate from Chicago and New York City, but the networks are not connected. In both the UK and the US, to cut costs, most services use on-street bus stops rather than pay for access to coach stations (except in cases where pre-existing routes were converted to Megabus lines). A notable exception to this is the use of London Victoria Coach Station.

In the UK and in the US for routes out of Chicago, all journeys must be pre-booked via or the designated phone number, or at certain bus stations; tickets are not available from the driver. In the US for routes out of New York City, Megabus journeys must be pre-booked via or the designated phone number (or at the New York City station).


On 14 November 2005, the Megabus concept was extended to certain rail services, with the introduction of Megatrain between London and Southampton, and London and Portsmouth, using a dedicated carriage on selected South West Trains services. It has since been extended to some Virgin Trains services (since withdrawn) and to selected East Midlands Trains services.

In 2009, the Megabusplus concept was introduced, under which certain trips are begun on a train and are then completed on a bus. Unlike the original Megatrain concept, this service is available seven days a week.

Magic Bus

Magic Bus was the first no-frills brand of Stagecoach. It was first used in red lettering on ex London Routemasters, otherwise painted in Stagecoach stripes, in competition in Glasgow. Later, an allover blue with yellow lettering was adopted, on older service buses with simple fares and no travel passes, usually operated on routes with strong competition from other operators, most notably on the Manchester Piccadilly to East Didsbury (Oxford Road corridor) route in Greater Manchester, but also in Newcastle upon Tyne and East Scotland (as Magic Mini). In 2008 Stagecoach Merseyside introduced a Magic Bus service competing with themselves and Arriva on the busy route 14 corridor, Magic Bus 14C runs every 7/8 minutes between City Centre and Broadway.

Scottish Citylink

On 13 September 2005 Stagecoach and ComfortDelGro announced a joint venture in the provision of express coach services in Scotland, ending intense competition between ComfortDelGro's subsidiary Scottish Citylink and Stagecoach subsidiaries Megabus and Motorvator. Under the terms of the joint venture, the Stagecoach Group will acquire a 35% stake in Scottish Citylink Coaches Ltd, with Citylink assuming certain rights to the Megabus and Motorvator brands in Scotland.[25] Megabus operations in the rest of the UK are excluded from this agreement. Despite being a minority shareholder, Stageocoach appears to have assumed all but full control. Stagecoach staff have replaced much of the former Citylink management, while Stagecoach subsidiaries have begun operating many of the routes formerly operated by subcontractors, albeit with vehicles in full Scottish Citylink livery. Citylink frequencies and routes have also been sacrificed in favour of Megabus where the two brands overlap.

The Competition Commission ruled on 23 October 2006 that the joint venture substantially reduced competition and that evidence suggested some routes were already experiencing higher fares as a result.[26] Though no firm conclusion was drawn, regulators are to consult the two companies about what they need to do to comply with competition regulations and they have indicated that this will likely lead to the forced divestment of some services to an independent operator. The ruling was criticised by Stagecoach as leaving vital services in limbo and jeopardising Scotland's intercity coach network, making it unable to compete effectively with rail and private car journeys.[27]

To satisfy the Commission, some Citylink routes were sold to Parks Motor Group in early 2008.


Competitive strategy

Controversy was never far from Stagecoach as it expanded its bus operations after deregulation. The company often found itself on the wrong side of the Competition Commission and faced sharp media criticism over its approach to smaller operators. Bitter bus wars broke out in towns and cities throughout Britain as Stagecoach took on the local competition, often forcing the competitor to abandon traditional markets and sometimes causing the collapse of smaller operators. Practices included aggressive pricing and timing, running services outside of its registered routes, or registering routes to compete with other operators rather than serve the public interest. In its hometown of Perth, Stagecoach successfully forced the dominant operator Strathtay Scottish to abandon local services in the town. Similarly, Stagecoach subsidiary Bluebird Buses replaced Highland Scottish buses on most city services in and around Inverness, and Ribble Motor Services replaced the local operator in Lancaster. In 1994 Stagecoach attracted particular criticism for its involvement in the events of the Darlington Bus War, in which Stagecoach entered the Darlington bus market, leading to the eventual collapse of Darlington Transport. This would lead to an inquiry and subsequent reform in the regulatory framework for bus operation in the UK. Controversy also reappeared in 2005 in the Highlands when the Magicbus formulae was applied by Stagecoach East Scotland to minibuses as Magic Mini, to compete with Scotbus, with alleged aggressive behaviour by Stagecoach drivers, resulting in an arson fire at a Stagecoach East Scotland garage.[28] There was also a notorious "bus war" between Stagecoach Manchester and a smaller operator, UK North, over the lucrative 192 bus route between Stockport and Manchester in 2006.[29] This saw aggressive and borderline-dangerous driving employed by drivers of both companies to get to the stop and the passengers first, resulting in several near-misses with pedestrians and other road users. In a similar "bus war" on the university route in Manchester, a passenger was in fact severely injured by a negligient bus driver, after which Greater Manchester Police severely warned all operators as to their conduct. The company was engaged in a similar bus war with Preston bus, however this ended with the purchase of Preston bus in January 2009.[30]

Controversial chairman

The Stagecoach Group has also indirectly attracted criticism through controversial statements and actions made by its chairman and co-founder, Brian Souter, regarding certain public statements and his funding of a campaign to block the repeal the Section 28 law. In 2000, OutRage! spokesman Peter Tatchell, called for a boycott of the bus and rail group.[31]

Passenger discrimination

In 2007 two gay teenagers in Aberdeenshire were threatened with being removed from the bus because one had his arm round the shoulders of the second; 'hug-in' protests around Scotland then followed from members of the Scottish Socialist Party and gay rights activists, calling on Stagecoach to apologise. For its part, Stagecoach has defended the actions of its driver.[32][33]

Fleet Numbers

The Stagecoach Group number their buses as follows:-

  • 10001 - 19999 Double Deck Buses
  • 20001 - 29999 Single Deck Buses
  • 30001 - 39999 Midibuses
  • 40001 - 49999 Minibuses
  • 50001 - 59999 Coaches

The allocated number is for the life of the bus whilst in the Stagecoach Group until it is sold. If it were to be re-acquired through take-overs of other bus companies then the next available free number would be given to that vehicle dependent on the type.

As a result of the recent re-aquasition of ELBG whose fleetnumbers duplicate some current buses in various group subsidiaries, fleetnumbers can be re-used, but only after that fleetnumber has been un-used for 3 years.

Preserved vehicles take up numbers at the end of each series but do not carry the allocated numbers instead they carry the original fleet number given when new by the original company that owned it when new an example of this being the Routemasters in London.

Guided Busway

Stagecoach operate buses along the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. Guide wheels on the side of the bus, combined with a specially built track mean that hands free driving is possible. The main advantages of a guided busway, versus a normal road are: higher speeds, meaning increased capacity; increased safety as traffic of differing directions is physically separated. Depending how this trial goes, there may eventually be many more in cities across the UK.[34]


  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2010". Stagecoach Group. 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  2. ^ "Brian Souter: The man who hates not getting his money's worth". London: Daily Telegraph. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  3. ^ City, Our (20 March 2000). "Stagecoach poised to sell Porterbrook". London: Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  4. ^ Sheffield supertram falls victim to competition from cheap buses The Independent, 10 June 1996
  5. ^ Harrison, Michael (23 January 2001). "Stagecoach sells off Prestwick for £33m". London: Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  6. ^ "The Spirit of London launched". Mayor of London. 2005. Retrieved 2005-10-04. 
  7. ^ "Stagecoach sells New Zealand unit". BBC News. 21 November 2005. Retrieved 2005-11-22. 
  8. ^ "Stagecoach buys Yorkshire Traction". Bus and Coach. 2005. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  9. ^ "Stagecoach told to sell off services". Bus and Coach News. 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-24. 
  10. ^ "Stagecoach wins railway franchise". BBC News. 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  11. ^ "Stagecoach named preferred bidder to run Greater Manchester's Metrolink" (Press release). Greater Manchester PTE. 3 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  12. ^ "Stagecoach to buy bus war rival". Lancashire Evening Post. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  13. ^ "" (Press release). Stagecoach Group Plc. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  14. ^ Carter, Helen; Milmo, Dan (2 August 2011). "Manchester's trams to be run by Paris Metro firm". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-04. 
  15. ^ Stagecoach Group: Overview
  16. ^ Davidson, Ros (22 September 2006). "Stagecoach wins South West Trains contract". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  17. ^ "TUPE transfer to Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited". TSSA. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  18. ^ "More services and extra capacity for the Midlands". Department for Transport. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  19. ^ "Sheffield Supertram: History". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  20. ^ "Stagecoach Group Company History". Stagecoach Group. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  21. ^ "Stagecoach in Manchester tram coup". This is Money. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  22. ^ "RATP buys Manchester Metrolink operator". Railway Gazette International. 2 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Stagecoach sells Portuguese bus operation for £14 million". Stagecoach Group. 2001. Retrieved 2001-06-18. 
  24. ^ "Stagecoach/Scottish Citylink inquiry". Competition Commission. 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  25. ^ "Man jailed over bus depot fires". BBC News. 14 February 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-14. 
  26. ^ "War on the Buses". Manchester Evening News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  27. ^ "Fare's Fair in Bus Wars?". Lancashire Evening Post. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  28. ^ "Boycott call in Stagecoach 'anti-gay' row". BBC News. 14 January 2000. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  29. ^ "Scotland hug-in protests target Stagecoach buses". Pink News. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  30. ^ "Police investigating Stagecoach bus incident". Pink News. 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  31. ^ Scott, Richard (8 August 2011), "hands-free bus", BBC News,, retrieved **** 

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