Stagecoach Group plc (LSE: SGC) is a transport group based in Perth, Scotland, operating buses, trains, trams and express coaches in the United Kingdom. The group was founded in 1980 by current chairman Brian Souter, his sister Ann Gloag, and her former husband Robin.
|Stagecoach Group plc|
Stagecoach Group is a provider of bus, rail, and tram transportation services and is an operator of bus and tour services in the United Kingdom and North America.
|Traded as||LSE: SGC|
|Brian Souter, Chairman|
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive
|Products||Local and express bus service, intercity bus service, franchise rail and tram service, sightseeing services|
|Revenue||£3,226.8 million (2018)|
|£179.9 million (2018)|
|£63.8 million (2018)|
Number of employees
Stagecoach was born out of deregulation of 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 London Regional Transport, the National Bus Company, Scottish Bus Group and various city councils. The company consolidated its operations during the 1990s by purchasing ex NBC and SBG bus companies that had been purchased by management and employees when privatised. Stagecoach left the long distance express coach market in 1988 when it sold its operations to National Express.
During the privatisation of British Rail, Porterbrook was formed as one of three rolling stock companies owning around a third of passenger railway locomotives, multiple units and coaching stock running on Network Rail's system which is leased to various train operators. It was sold to a management buyout before being purchased by Stagecoach in August 1996. In April 2000 Stagecoach sold Porterbrook to Abbey National for £773 million.
In 1997 Stagecoach won the franchise to operate the Sheffield Supertram system, from the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, who own the system. Stagecoach 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 is now an extremely popular and successful operation. 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.
On 21 November 2005 Stagecoach announced the sale of its New Zealand operations to Infratil. 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.
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. Stagecoach are also active in the rail industry, currently having a 49% stake in Virgin Rail Group. In 2007 the group were successful in their bid for the new East Midlands franchise which had been created by amalgamating the previous Midland Mainline franchise with the eastern part of the former Central Trains franchise.
In July 2007, Stagecoach commenced operating the Manchester Metrolink tram network. In January 2009, Stagecoach bought Preston Bus, a former rival in the Lancashire area. In November 2009 the Competition Commission ordered Stagecoach to sell Preston Bus after it had adversely affected competition in the area.
In October 2010, Stagecoach expanded further by re-acquiring East London and Selkent, Stagecoach's former London bus operations. In August 2011, Stagecoach sold its Manchester Metrolink concession to RATP Group halfway through its ten-year contract to operate the network. In December 2013, Stagecoach bought King's Lynn based Norfolk Green. In March 2015, Virgin Trains East Coast, in which Stagecoach holds a 90% shareholding, commenced operating the InterCity East Coast franchise. The franchise was terminated on 23 June 2018 after it was revealed that Stagecoach had overbid.
In April 2019, Stagecoach was disqualified from participating in three rail franchise competitions by the Department for Transport after it submitted non-compliant bids for the East Midlands, South Eastern and West Coast Partnership franchises.
Stagecoach Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange, though company chairman Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag are the largest shareholders with a combined 25.9% shareholding at April 2013.
Group Structure (at September 2011)
|UK Bus||North America||National Transport|
|East Scotland||West Scotland||North East||South Lancashire &|
|Manchester||East Midlands||Oxfordshire||Cumbria & North Lancashire||Virgin|
|South||East Kent||South West||East|
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 operations are as follows:
Apart from the ordinary bus operations and no-frills services, the UK bus division has the following brands that extend across operating divisions.
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 sleeper service.
In July 2007 Stagecoach took over the operation of Manchester Metrolink on a 10-year fixed-term management contract, beating competition from Keolis, Serco and Transdev, to make it the biggest tram operator in the UK. 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. Stagecoach sold the Metrolink business to RATP Group in August 2011.
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, which provided franchised bus services on Hong Kong Island and to and from Hong Kong International Airport as well as non-franchised services throughout Hong Kong, in March 1999 and then completed the privatisation of Citybus on 17 July 1999.
In November 1991 Stagecoach Holdings Limited (as it was named then), bought United Transport's shareholding 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 Karanja Kabage as chairman acquired Kenya Bus Services Limited from Stagecoach Holdings which owned 95% of the business.
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, 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. In November 2005, the business was sold to Infratil and rebranded as NZ Bus.
Stagecoach carried out bus operations in the northeastern and midwestern United States and in eastern Canada. Businesses were focused on commuter services, and included tour and charter, sightseeing, local, and school bus operations:
Stagecoach Portugal had its origins in the reprivatisation of Portuguese bus and coach operation, which had been nationalised after the 1974 Revolution. In 1990, the nationalised Rodoviária Nacional was split into ten components. In the capital, Lisbon, Rodoviária de Lisboa 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.
In October 1996, during Stagecoach's International buying spree, it made its most important international acquisition at the time, buying Swebus AB, the bus-company arm of the Swedish State Railways (SJ), for 1.2 billion kronor ($164 million), which also included operations in Denmark, Finland and Norway. The operations in Norway included only city and regional traffic in three minor cities around lake Mjøsa, but several unsuccessful bids on operators in the Oslo area led to Stagecoach selling out to Norgesbuss in April 1997. The Danish operations never proved profitable, and were sold to Combus in autumn of 1997. The operations in Finland were more successful, and were in April 1998 renamed Stagecoach Finland. In spring of 1997, Swebus Express was started as an intercity coach service between several cities in southern parts of Sweden, sporting the Stagecoach livery of the time. Stagecoach in 1998 announced that it had bid for several rail franchises in Sweden. On 27 October 1999, Stagecoach revealed that it was going to sell Swebus to Concordia Bus for £100m, to refocus its bus operation on the United States and Asia.
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:
Magic Bus was the first no-frills brand of Stagecoach. It was first used in red lettering on ex London Regional Transport AEC 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 Wilmslow Road bus corridor route in 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 North West on the busy route 14 corridor, Magic Bus 14C runs every 7/8 minutes between City Centre and Broadway. By 2012, only the Manchester Magic Bus remained, these being upgraded from Volvo Olympians and Dennis Dragons to Alexander ALX400 and East Lancs bodied Dennis Trident 2s.
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.
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 was later 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.
In 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 acquires a 35% stake in Scottish Citylink Coaches Ltd, with Citylink assuming certain rights to the Megabus and Motorvator brands in Scotland.
The Competition Commission ruled in October 2006 that the joint venture substantially reduced competition and that evidence suggested some routes were already experiencing higher fares as a result. 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.
Following the deregulation of bus services in the United Kingdom, Stagecoach bought a number of the newly emerged small bus companies and ran free or low fare buses to put local rivals out of business. In Darlington, Stagecoach subsidiary Busways offered bounties to recruit drivers away from the existing bus service and offered free buses to deter the rival preferred bidder from taking over the existing bus service. This was "predatory, deplorable and against the public interest" according to findings from the Monopolies & Mergers Commission.
In 2000 Stagecoach Manchester was found to have been employing bus inspectors to usher passengers away from competitor's services. In 2005 alleged aggressive behaviour by Stagecoach drivers, seeking to compete with Scotbus, resulted in an arson fire at a Stagecoach East Scotland garage.
In 2006/07 Stagecoach Manchester and UK North engaged in a bus war on route 192 and on the Wilmslow Road bus corridor that caused traffic chaos in Manchester. In November 2009 the Competition Commission ordered Stagecoach to sell Preston Bus after it had adversely affected competition in the area. Preston Bus was sold in January 2011.
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 of the Section 28 law. In 2000, OutRage! spokesman Peter Tatchell, called for a boycott of the bus and rail group.
The Stagecoach Group number their buses using a system that applies for the life of the bus or until it is sold, as follows:
Stagecoach operate buses along the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. The Guide wheels on the side of the buses, 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) and increased safety as traffic of differing directions is physically separated.
Community Coach is a bus operator in northern New Jersey owned by Coach USA, operating fixed route and charter service.East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains (EMT) is a British train operating company owned by Stagecoach Group.
Based in Derby, the company provides train services in the East Midlands and parts of Yorkshire, chiefly in Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire. The franchise commenced in November 2007 with the amalgamation of the Midland Mainline and eastern parts of the Central Trains franchises and will run until August 2019.
East Midlands Trains' London terminus is London St Pancras International.Fleet Buzz
Fleet Buzz was a bus company based in Crondall, Hampshire, England. It was a subsidiary of Stagecoach.Megabus (Europe)
Megabus is a long distance coach (Intercity bus service) operator operated by the Stagecoach Group. It commenced operating in August 2003, initially in the United Kingdom, and later expanding into continental Europe. Some services link with Megatrain services, also operated by Stagecoach. Fares use a yield management model, formerly starting at £1. In June 2016, Stagecoach Group sold all operations in the European mainland, as well as those services linking London with Europe, to German competitor Flixbus. Megabus serves as a contractor, so the sale resulted in no route changes for passengers. Domestic UK operations remain under the control of Stagecoach.Rockland Coaches
Rockland Coaches Inc. (also known as The Red and Tan Lines) is a commuter coach company owned by Coach USA based in Westwood, New Jersey, United States, that operates commuter bus service between New York City and points in Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York, and provides local bus service in both locales north of Route 46.Stagecoach Bluebird
Stagecoach Bluebird (also known by its legal operating name Bluebird Buses Ltd, and formerly Northern Scottish Omnibuses Ltd) is a Scottish bus operating company which covers the areas of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.
It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, after their purchase of the company from the Scottish Bus Group in 1991, and today forms part of the Stagecoach North Scotland division, along with Stagecoach in the Highlands. The company holds a Royal Warrant from HM Queen Elizabeth II for bus and coach services, granted in 1996.Stagecoach East
Stagecoach East is the divisional name for the bus operations of the Stagecoach Group in eastern England.Stagecoach East Midlands
Stagecoach East Midlands is a bus company, part of the Stagecoach Group.
Its headquarters are in Lincoln, England, and it operates services under the following brand names:
Stagecoach in Bassetlaw
Stagecoach in Mansfield
Stagecoach in Hull
Stagecoach in Lincolnshire
Stagecoach in Newark (see Stagecoach in Lincolnshire)The Stagecoach in Chesterfield operation has been transferred to Stagecoach Yorkshire since the acquisition of Yorkshire Terrier.Stagecoach London
Stagecoach London is a bus operator in London. It is a subsidiary of Stagecoach and operates services under contract to Transport for London mostly in east and south-east and partly in central LondonStagecoach Manchester
Stagecoach Manchester is a bus operator in Greater Manchester, England. It is the largest UK bus subsidiary of Stagecoach Group, carrying 98 million passengers in 2012.Stagecoach Merseyside
Stagecoach Merseyside is a major operator of bus services in the British city of Liverpool and in the surrounding area of Merseyside. It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group. It was formed in July 2005 due to the acquisition of Glenvale Transport (GT), which in turn had initially been formed by ex-MTL managers bidding for the company, following a Competition Commission ruling that Arriva must sell their newly acquired Gillmoss depot to preserve competition between bus operators within the Merseyside area.
The fleet of the newly created Glenvale Transport mostly comprised elderly Leyland Titans and aging Dennis Darts, although efforts were made to update the fleet via an agreement with Essex-based dealer Ensignbus, seeing newer buses arrive regularly from the end of 2003 right up to the Stagecoach takeover in the summer of 2005. Several much newer buses, although in need of repair, were permanently stationed at the depot, likely due to financial struggles making it difficult to repair the buses. Glenvale had an annual turnover of approximately £25 million.The company was sold to Stagecoach Group in 2005, who pledged to invest in new buses for Merseyside. The result since takeover has been a £6.5m fleet of 75 new low-floor Alexander Dennis Dart buses that have entered service with the company, with the sale and disposal of older buses previously in operation with Glenvale.
Also, in late January 2013 Stagecoach purchased First Chester & The Wirral bus operations in and these now operate as part of Stagecoach Merseyside.Stagecoach Midlands
Stagecoach Midlands is the name for most bus routes in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. The legal name for the company is United Counties Omnibus Company Ltd in Northamptonshire and Midland Red (South) Ltd in Warwickshire.In towns, local bus routes are mostly under their own branding. These are Connect Kettering, Connect Wellingborough, Corby Star, and Daventry Dart, while Northampton has no local name but is part of the Buzz fare scheme.Stagecoach Sheffield
Stagecoach Sheffield is a bus operator based in Sheffield, England, a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group. It was formed from the Sheffield-based operations of the Yorkshire Traction Group, purchased by Stagecoach in 2005. Most bus services in Sheffield are operated by Stagecoach Sheffield or First South Yorkshire.
Stagecoach Sheffield services are marketed alongside the Sheffield Supertram, operated by Stagecoach since 1997. Stagecoach Sheffield also operate the related SupertramLink bus.Stagecoach South
Stagecoach South is a bus operator providing services in South East England. It is a subsidiary of Stagecoach. It operates services in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex with some routes extending into Berkshire and Wiltshire. As at April 2013 it operates 473 buses from seven depots.It is branded as four sub-divisions: Stagecoach in Hampshire, Stagecoach in Hants & Surrey, Stagecoach in the South Downs and Stagecoach in PortsmouthStagecoach South East
Stagecoach South East is an operating division of the Stagecoach Group. The headquarters of the division are situated in Canterbury, England.
It consists of Stagecoach in East Kent, Stagecoach in Hastings and Stagecoach in Eastbourne; the latter two operations are marketed under the name Stagecoach in East Sussex.Stagecoach Strathtay
Stagecoach Strathtay is a Scottish bus operating company which covers the Dundee and Angus areas, and parts of Grampian. It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, which bought Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd from Traction Group in 2005. Strathtay Scottish was formed in 1985 as a subsidiary of the Scottish Transport Group, from parts of Walter Alexander & Sons (Midland) Ltd and Walter Alexander & Sons (Northern) Ltd. Stagecoach have retained the right to the operating name Strathtay Scottish; this is reflected in the legal lettering on the company's vehicles.Stagecoach in Bedford
Stagecoach in Bedford, also known as Bedford Bus (stylised as 'Bedfordbus'), is the sector of the Stagecoach Group that operates buses in Bedford, Bedfordshire and is currently a trading name of Cambus Ltd. Stagecoach in Bedford forms part of the Stagecoach East division, along with Stagecoach in Cambridge, Stagecoach in Peterborough and Stagecoach in The Fens.Stagecoach in The Fens
Stagecoach in Huntingdonshire is the trading name of Stagecoach in The Fens Limited, which runs services throughout Huntingdon, the Fens and surrounding areas. It is part of Stagecoach East, itself a subsidiary of the larger Stagecoach Group Plc.
See also: Transport Scotland
Bus and coach transport in the United Kingdom