Definitions

Stagecoach East

Stagecoach East Scotland

Stagecoach East Scotland is an operating region of Stagecoach UK Bus, with its regional base in Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland and including the legal companies Bluebird Buses Ltd, Fife Scottish Buses Ltd, Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd and JW Coaches Ltd.

Operation

Stagecoach East Scotland operates under five different brands:

  • Stagecoach in Perth, a trading name of Bluebird Buses Ltd, Aberdeen, is used for services in and around Perth.
  • Stagecoach Bluebird is used for services in the north east of Scotland covering Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and Aberdeen city services. It is a trading name of Bluebird Buses Ltd.
  • Stagecoach in Inverness is used for services in and around the city of Inverness, and is also a brand name of Bluebird Buses Ltd.
  • Stagecoach in Fife is used for services throughout the kingdom of Fife and beyond to Dundee and Edinburgh, and is a trading name of Fife Scottish Omnibuses Ltd, though vehicles on the airdirect747 service operate for AA Buses Ltd. It also operated the experimental Forth Fast hovercraft service from Kirkcaldy to Portobello in July 2007.
  • Strathtay is the brand used for services within the city of Dundee and throughout Angus, with some services reaching Perth and into Aberdeenshire. It is a trading name of Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd, Dundee.
  • JW Coaches is a brand retained for the small JW Coaches Ltd operation based in Banchory and used mainly for school, contract and private hire work, though a tendered services local to the town are operated under this name. Vehicles are painted all-over white with JW Coaches fleetnames.

The company also provides vehicles for Megabus and Scottish Citylink long distance express work within Scotland, and beyond to Manchester and London.

Main depots are located in Aberdeen, Elgin, Inverness, Macduff, Perth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Tain, Methil, Kirkcaldy, St Andrews, Glenrothes, Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Forfar and Montrose. Various rural outstations also exist throughout the Bluebird operating area, mainly due to the rural nature of many of the company's services.

History

Stagecoach began long distance express coach services in 1981 from its base in Perth, expanding into local bus operation when it bought McLennan Of Spittalfield in 1985. Deregulation of the British bus industry in 1986 gave Stagecoach the opportunity to expand in its home town, thus fierce competition with the dominant operator Strathtay Scottish began, which eventually saw Stagecoach's then Perth Panther subsidiary emerge as the largest provider of bus services in the Perth area.

While competing with Strathtay in Perth, Stagecoach purchased Inverness Traction from its receivers for £60,000 in November 1989. Inverness Traction, which had failed twice in its competition with Highland Scottish in Inverness, would soon emerge as the dominant operator in the area after a period of competition that resulted in Highland selling some 30 vehicles to Stagecoach together with its Tain depot, and the remainder of its Inverness and Easter Ross operations.

On the break up and privatisation of the Scottish Bus Group, Stagecoach was successful in acquiring two of the subsidiaries, namely Northern Scottish Omnibuses Ltd (in March 1991) and Fife Scottish Omnibuses Ltd (in July 1991). Northern Scottish was quickly renamed Bluebird Buses Ltd. Both companies' operations remain largely unchanged from the time they joined the Stagecoach Group.

JW Coaches Ltd of Banchory and Allisons Coaches of Dunfermline were both purchased in April 2000. Both companies concentrated mainly on private hire and schools contracts, with some local tendered services also operated, making them rather surprise additions to the Stagecoach Group. While vehicles and services operated by Allisons Coaches were transferred to the Fife Scottish operating licence, JW Coaches continues to operate as a stand alone unit within Stagecoach East Scotland, operating approximately 15 vehicles from its depot in Banchory. Though these vehicles, mainly minibuses with a few coaches, have been transferred from Stagecoach Bluebird, they wear an all-over white livery with JW Coaches fleetnames; other than the national fleetnumbers, no reference to Stagecoach ownership is visible.

In August 2003 the UK's first entirely commercial demand responsive bus service was launched by Stagecoach East Scotland in Fife. Trading as Yellow Taxibus and using the AA Buses Ltd legal name (transferred from Stagecoach West Scotland where it was purchased with the AA Buses operation in Ayrshire) the operation combined the benefits of a fixed bus route with the flexibility of pre-booked taxi pick-ups. Yellow Taxibus operated a fleet of eight-seater spacious, upmarket Mercedes Vito vehicles on a high-frequency service between Dunfermline and Edinburgh seven days a week, however after a two year trial the loss making service was withdrawn in November 2005. However, buses on the airdirect747 service linking Fife to Edinburgh Airport, introduced in February 2006, are operated under the AA Buses Ltd legal name and operating licence, despite the corporate Stagecoach in Fife appearance of the vehicles.

During 2005, competition broke out between Stagecoach and local operator Scotbus on the Black Isle to Inverness route. Stagecoach introduced the low-fares Magic Mini brand (a variation of Magicbus) on the route, scheduling services to operate minutes before the rival operator and undercutting fares. Competition was acrimonious, with drivers allegedly making rude gestures to one another and being accused of aggressive driving styles. Scotbus complained twice to the Office of Fair Trading over Stagecoach's tactics on the route, though no action was taken. Scotbus eventually withdrew from the route, and the Magic Mini brand was soon dropped by Stagecoach. However, the poor relations between the two companies resulted in an arson attack on Stagecoach's Inverness depot by a Scotbus employee.

On 14 December 2005 Stagecoach purchased the largest remaining private bus company, Barnsley-based Traction Group, for £26m. Traction Group owned Strathtay Scottish, which Stagecoach had pushed out of Perth some 16 years earlier. The Strathtay operations bridged the gap between Stagecoach's Fife, Perth and Bluebird operations, giving the group a vast swathe of the country extending from Edinburgh through to Perth, northwards to Aberdeen and round to Inverness, with only Travel Dundee and First Aberdeen being the major non-Stagecoach operators within that area. Unusually, despite the Strathtay fleet receiving the corporate livery, they are being branded as strathtay with Part of the Stagecoach Group straplines, rather than Stagecoach Strathtay or Stagecoach in Dundee/Angus, which is a break from current corporate practice.

In 2007, Stagecoach in Perth started one of two "Goldine" services as a trial for Stagecoach Group. Along with the service run by Stagecoach Warwickshire, they offer newer vehicles to a higher standard, and are in a special gold and blue livery. The Perth Goldline service is run with new style Alexander Dennis Enviro300s.

In addition to bus operation, Stagecoach East Scotland also operate Fife Ferrytoll, a park and ride facility, in partnership with Fife Council.

Bluebird Buses holds the Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II for services provided to the Royal Household at Balmoral.

External links

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