Though not an exhaustive list of all the bus companies operating in Britain and Ireland, this hopefully sends you to right places for more information on many services that are being operated. While I have used a fair few of these, I cannot say that is the case for all of them but I am building a library for anyone to consult. Speaking on a personal level, it might come in handy should I ever end up visiting parts where I haven’t gone before. The list will be a living one with additions, removals and replacements coming over time rather than trying to do everything all at once. Please let me know if anything needs adding or updating since I am bound to miss something.
Formerly a home-grown Irish company, this First Group subsidiary has moved on from its days of getting passengers to and from Dublin Airport to serving Cork and Belfast as well. Saying that, a service between Greystones in Co. Wicklow and the said airport was introduced in the last few months. Their parent company seems to have a new found enthusiasm for coach services in places like Glasgow so one is left wondering whether the Irish operations have been the cause.
It came as a surprise to me to see this Sunderland-headquartered multi-national transport conglomerate being bought out by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn. From the bus side of things, it continues to have much of the old Crosville network and that makes it a pervasive operator in my neck of the woods. Saying that, there has been something of a retreat in progress over the last decade with other operators getting business from council contracts. That also might explain why we don’t see very many new vehicles coming to Macclesfield though new buses elsewhere means that the ones displaced might come our way, never a bad thing. Even so, that surge of acquisition has been tamed by recent economic circumstances. Is that why they sold themselves within the last few weeks?
It looked as if First and Arriva were left to divide up Cheshire’s bus network between them when I first moved to the area. Then, Baker’s bus operations were a noticeable exception and they still provide services within the county today, albeit having seen major changes over the years. Their main base is in Staffordshire though and the site has timetable and route information for services in both areas, with some intercounty services on offer too.
The company that runs the majority of the Éire’s bus services outside Dublin as well as maintaining all the Republic’s bus stations. Besides services which run between different towns and cities, Bus Éireann also runs bus services within the other cities in the Republic.
Council-owned bus companies are becoming ever rarer but Wales’ capital city sports one as its predominant operator. After years with ever aging Volvo Ailsas, the fleet was completely modernised in recent years with Scania single and double deckers now dominating it. Recent rote realignments to take account of the changes in the city have attracted some criticism with regard to the reduction of service at Cardiff Central station.
Centrebus is a privately-owned operator that seems to have crept upon a lot of us as they have spread out from their base in Leicester. They also own Bowers who are listed earlier and jointly operate the Huddersfield Bus company with Arriva. It’s not a bad pattern for a business started by former Arriva employees.
This is a major independent bus operator in Devon with a number of services operated in conjunction with the local council and Dartmoor National Park Authority as well as others being provided on a commercial basis. Definitely worth a look if visiting places such as Newton Abbot (their main base), Okehampton, Teignmouth, Paignton and Brixham.
This smaller operator started off in north Staffordshire before turning its attention to Cheshire with a depot in Crewe. While I do wonder if Arriva’s retrenchment in Cheshire allowed that move, it now is perhaps ironic that Arriva is acquiring the north Staffordshire part of the business for amalgamation with its Wardle Transport subsidiary. Sometimes, it is amazing how things happen but recent cuts in transport spending by Stoke-on-Trent City Council have to have had a part to play in this turn of events. The Crewe operation is set to continue though.
Also known as Local Link, this is another Devon independent provider of local bus services. This one is based in Paignton and operates a number of bus services that fan out to serve places such as Shiphay, Brixham and Torquay with some financial support from Torbay Council helping too. Due to expand their network soon to include Stoke Gabriel too.
This Rotala-owned English West Midlands operator used to has three faces – Red, Black and Blue – according to the area that they served. That has changed in favour of distinct areas: Lichfield in Staffordshire, West Midlands, Redditch and Worcestershire. As you’d expect, there’s travel news and timetables to be found here and there are online ticket sales too.
Yet another private hire operator that has branched into running bus services and these serve places such as Auchterarder, Crieff, Perth and Stirling. The website was very flaky when I visited but there are bus timetables on there if the site stands up to your attentions.
Runs the vast majority of the bus services in the Irish capital and many of the commuter ones in the areas surrounding the city.
2009 wouldn’t have struck me as the best time to starting up an hourly coach service in Éire but that is what this operation is. Looking again at the website, it would appear that this is an enterprise founded by the founder of Aircoach who has gone onto other things since that enterprise was sold to First. The appearance of Quickparks on the site footer would suggest that and there also is a coach touring company catering for visitors to Ireland too.
With the start date for the new company, one had to wonder if it would succeed. It would appear that thye are doing OK because they now have two routes: the M7 between Limerick and Dublin and the original N7 from Portlaoise to Dublin Airport. Frequencies are hourly on both and look very good services to be offering too, particularly given that they use coaches.
This Welsh operator has a portfolio of services to its name in north and mid Wales so it deserves inclusion here. Strangely, they have buried their bus timetables in the information section of the website when it could be more prominent that this. Maybe they’re trying not to hobble their private hire business…
Once criticised for their aging bus fleet and the way they kept their vehicles (their head honcho is an engineer by training so that might be a plausible explanation for any roughness…), this company is now refocusing on its bus business and the results are becoming clearer with new vehicles having come on stream over the last few years. The website has got a once over too. Let’s hope that they keep upping the ante so that their slogan “Transforming Travel” actually means that they are doing it for the better, which has no always seemed the case throughout their 20 year history.
This company’s main hinterland is northeast Wales but that doesn’t stop its incursion into Cheshire, as far as Macclesfield for schools service contracts in fact. Shropshire is another area served with Whitchurch being the terminus for one of its services.
In many ways, Go-Ahead is unusual for such a large company in that it allows its subsidiaries to retain distinctive identities. It is for that reason that you see a bundle of different company names above, They are headquartered in the northeast of England and I remember a Go-Ahead Gateshead fleet name from a visit to Newcastle for a conference in the mid-1990′s, my first visit to England as it happened. Because of where they are located, I don’t get much of an opportunity to sample the groups bus services but that’s another story…
This company was first an independent operator before being acquired by Veolia. However, it is independent again and based in Tuam. They run coaches that ply their way between Cork or Galway and Dublin Airport and the website carries a lot of mentions of the importance of customer service. That sounds very good but I’d have to try the services in order to verify it. They have linked with Bus Éireann too, which could be a very good thing for passengers and it might help patronage as well.
Éire has Bus Éireann Expressway, Scotland has Citylink while National Express extends it interurban coach network’s tentacles throughout mainland Britain. So it’s no surprise that Northern Ireland has its own home grown variant and that’s where Goldline comes in.
North American visitors might expect this to be about their own iconic long distance express coach operator, now owned by Aberdeen’s First Group. Reality is rather different because First is doing what Stagecoach did with Megabus (see later), albeit in the reverse direction. It does remain to be seen if the quintessential brand cuts the mustard on this side of the Atlantic with services between London and Southampton or Portsmouth being in the vanguard. It the formula proves successful, I wouldn’t be surprise at all if more Irizar-bodied Scanias carrying the iconic trademark do not start to appear on overnight Anglo-Scottish services. After all, First Glasgow did buy these from Silver Choice at the start of the year.
This is the result of a new joint venture between Centrebus and Trent Barton that became reality at the start of April 2012. Bowers’ old depot at Chapel en le Frith has shut and all operations are based at the former Trent Barton depot at Dove Holes instead. Though a work in progress, the Centrebus livery has been applied to a good number of the buses already and these especially can be seen on routes such as Buxton-Ashbourne.
Trent wasn’t a major player in the part of Derbyshire surrounding Buxton so the range of services on offer have a bigger contribution from Bowers’ roster. From Trent Barton has come the Monday to Saturday Buxton town service to and from Harpur Hill, the 199 from Buxton to Stockport and Manchester Airport along with the Transpeak service that crosses Derbyshire with extensions to Nottingham, Stockport and Manchester.
Prior to the merger, Bowers ran services in both Derbyshire and Cheshire with intercounty services making up a good share of what they did. Their reach into Cheshire has been growing with council-contracted services between Macclesfield, Congleton, Knutsford, Whirley and Prestbury falling into their hands following the acquisition of the former independent by Centrebus. All of these are served by High Peak now too and same can be said for long-standing Derbyshire and Staffordshire routes.
This may not be a part of the world that would come to mind as a place for me to visit but this bus operator does seem to care about its business so it deserves a mention. Interestingly, they seem to name some of their vehicles too and a good number of them are very modern. All the usual information that you’d need is on here though I wouldn’t mind learning a bit more about the company but that’s a minor matter.
This is the Irish cousin of Scottish Citylink and providers of services to places such as Clifden, Cork, Limerick, Shannon Airport, Galway and Dublin Airport. For a time, they actually directly owned many if not all of their coaches but that has changed to a franchising model. Unlike in Scotland where there are a number of contractors operating Citylink services, there is only one in Ireland and that is based in Galway. The result is that Citylink feels like a Galway headquartered organisation from the information presented on its website. It certainly is a counterpoint in a country where so much is headquartered in its capital city so it’s good to see that success doesn’t need it either.
When I was at university in Cork, I saw coaches from this long-established (since 1919, apparently) family owned operation quite a lot. Even so, they seem to have expanded from their original Urlingford base since then to amass a not inconsiderable number of routes served by a fleet of coaches. Private hire is part of their business too but it’s the services to places like Dublin Airport and Clonmel that earns them their place in this list.
This is another Wellglade subsidiary, this time in Loughborough. Apparently, the same penchant for quality that applies to Trent Barton seems to apply here too. The company is smaller though with a focus on a smaller number of routes around their base. They still include town, university and airport services so there’s a good mix on offer here.
This is the main bus company in the city of Edinburgh. Even after 18 years of Conservative government, this has remained in council ownership even though it has partially floated on the London Stock Exchange. The company has always offered good and frequent service in clean modern buses, setting an example for many other operators. Having a soft spot for the old madder and white livery, I am unsure as to the visual success of the “harlequin” livery that has replaced it but that’s a minor trifle compared to the problems that I have experienced with other operators.
For ages, this Irish operator’s timetables were hard to find on the web but they now have this rather swish looking website. There might be a left hand drive coach on the front page but finding information about this former railway company now is far easier than it once was. The services convey folk around Donegal and also connect them with Derry too, making the company a cross-border operator. Donegal is a part of the world that I quite fancy visiting so these services may find a use for me sometime.
It may seem surprising given the size of the place but Machynlleth plays host to no less than two bus depots next to its train station. One belongs to Arriva Cymru while the other is owned by local independent public service and private hire operator Lloyd’s. Council contracts have allowed the family owned business to operate a goodly number of routes for which timetables are available on the website so it’s a worthwhile port of call.
As well as being a private hire operator, this Nottinghamshire firm also operates some bus routes around Newark-on-Trent and Nottingham. It was during a spell of snow when I learned of the company’s existence because they needed to cancel their last services between Nottingham and Newark-on-Trent due to the road conditions. Let’s hope that stranded no one though they did do it for safety reasons, with the best of intentions in other words.
On forays via Dublin Airport, I have noticed coaches operated by these people working what appeared to be scheduled services. Their website confirms that impression with places such as Dundalk, Drogheda and Bettystown being connected with Dublin’s city centre.
A useful provider of services in the Loch Lomond area. Timetables seem to have disappeared behind lock and key so they would seem to have scored an own goal with their requiring of users to register and log in.
It was a recent trip to Dunoon that reminded me about this operator in the part of Scotland immediately west of Glasgow. As well as a next to two hourly coach service between Glasgow and Dunoon, they also operate quite a few services in the Inverclyde and Renfrewshire areas with quite a few running in and out of Glasgow. A look at the vehicles that they use would imply that they mean it when they say that quality is their watchword. It’s good to see firms like this doing well when large transport groups are so dominant.
Stagecoach’s Megabus operation has been something of an upstart in the intercity coach market but it does seem to be establishing itself as time wears on; that tie-up with Scottish Citylink (see below) surely must have helped. Its buy-ahead (on the web) approach may not suit those who prefer an unplanned hop-on service but having £1 fares between the likes of Manchester and Leeds certainly does appeal. North American visitors may wonder at the British focus of the piece but it did start on this side of the Atlantic before it crossed the water.
Like Dublin, Belfast has its own bus company offering services across the city.
Though they do offer private hire services on a former London Routemaster, it is their local services offered using more modern buses that gets them added to this list. These fan out from Burton-on-Trent to serve a number of places such as Lichfield. Additionally, they also operate school bus services.
Though mainly a private coach hire operation, they also operate daytime services between Shrewsbury to Stiperstones and Bishop’s Castle, Monday to Saturday. Arriva Midlands operate Sunday and weekday evening services as well.
Now facing an upheaval following poor financial performance due to imprudent indebtedness, this is the operator running the majority of the express intercity coach services across the U.K. although their services miss out a lot of towns, Macclesfield for instance, and other places receive a patchy service, of which North Wales is an example. A takeover bid is in progress with U.K. bus and rail operations set to pass to Stagecoach, a situation that could trigger a shake up of Britain’s bus market if the latter suitor is to avoid the attentions of the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission.
This is another of those rare beasts, a Welsh municipal operator. This Newport is a city on Wales’ south coast not far from Cardiff and it runs interurban services to its near neighbour as well as services within its home city.
There are quite a few things that you can do with a fleet of coaches. First, there’s private hire and excursions but scheduled express intercity coach services are another possibility and this pervasive operator proves it by offering all of this. For decades now, they have undertaken National Express and Scottish Citylink work but a recent innovation has been their taking services previously run by the latter of these following a Competition Commission enquiry.
Based in Berwick-upon-Tweed, this operator straddles both sides of the Scotland-England border with services, many of a cross-border nature, ranging from town services around their home town through to a long distance one to and from Edinburgh.
Another bus company discovered during a bout of wintry weather, this one also serves Nottingham. Their services also include intercampus shuttles for the University of Nottingham along with normal services for the general public. The network that they operate looks extensive and they do private coach hire too. Incidentally, I only saw them mentioned on Twitter when they said that their services were back to normal after an evening of snowfall.
Now owned by Rotala, this company was the subject of some controversy when Stagecoach acquired it as a hostile takeover with some fierce competition preceding that outcome. The intervention of the Competition Commission meant that Stagecoach had to sell off some of its business in the Preston and the re-emergence of Preston Bus as a Rotala subsidiary took place late in 2010. It’s been an eventful ride for what once was a council-owned operator and I hope that its future is less dramatic than its recent past. The website does feel a little neglected and could do with some tending. Even so, timetable information is on there even if there is a disconcerting hangover from the Stagecoach days on what you find.
Both of these companies were part of Transdev until that operator joined forces with Veolia. They now are in the hands of the another French transport service provider with international holdings, RATP. That may have its stronghold in Île-de-France, Paris and its surrounding area in other words, but it has had a shareholding in Transdev that was converted into acquisition of no less than fifteen former Transdev subsidiaries with both London United and Yellow Buses included among their number. The former retains the lack of travel information that typical of its website in its Transdev days while the latter was formerly a council-owned operation in Bournemouth that continues to retain its local identity.
Here is proof that you can have a vibrant council-owned bus company in England and all of these are divisions of Reading Transport. The last on the list is the private operation though I did hear rumblings that this was a business that was going to be exited. Both Reading Buses and Newbury Buses do what you’d expect in that they operate scheduled services and then share new, fare and timetable information via the web.
If you go exploring Pembrokeshire without a car, the chances are that you’ll end up on a bus service operated by this local company. In its own way, it adds to the distinctive feel of the area not to have a big transport conglomerate dominating its bus market. That leaves Richards as the biggest operators around there and they offer a fair number of services alongside their private hire coach business.
My reason for adding these is that they has been involved in linking Inverness with the remote Glen Affric over the past summer and I’d like to see them do so again during the next one. In addition, they also operate other local services from their depot in Struy. Hopefully, their website will tell you a little more about what they have to offer the travelling public.
Here’s another operator in southeast Lancashire and a seemingly independent one too by the appearance of things. Their patch covers Rochdale, Bury and Rawtenstall with one service venturing into Manchester. Service news is delivered through their blog and everything else is as you’d expect with regard to timetables and network maps though they’re a little shy when comes to giving company information, for now anyway.
When this became a joint venture between Comfort DelGro and Stagecoach, I began to have concerns about undesirable results such as a certain lack of responsiveness to demand, changes in contracts and the outbreak of bus wars. Since then, things have settled down with innovations like Citylink Gold coming on stream. After all, it remains the coach company which operates the many of the express bus services between major Scottish towns and cities, blessing Scotland with a decent network of express coach services. Even so, you do have to watch out for eccentricities in some of the timetables, especially with destinations in the Scottish Highlands.
If you need to get between Fort William and destinations such as Mallaig, Morvern and Ardnamurchan, then this family owned firm could be conveying you. Service frequencies are such that it’s best not to bet on a day trip but go for the multi-day option instead. Nevertheless, that’s only what this part of Scotland deserves.
Always seem to be updating their bus fleet and experimenting with new services such as the Oxford Tube and MegaBus. In Scotland, they are now the biggest operator, a fact that brings them to the notice of the Competition Commission.
Until the last few years, this was an independent operator serving south Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Since then, it has been acquired by Wellglade, the owners of Trent Barton, and the website now features route and timetable information. The addition of this information is what got the site added to this listing and is a very welcome result of the acquisition. Before then, there was nothing of that kind and it was a disappointing state of affairs to notice.
All of these are subsidiaries owned by French company Transdev with those in Yorkshire and Lancashire being part of the Blazefield group. The London company doesn’t seem to provide much in the way of travel information while the others very much do so and you are set to wondering if they expect Transport for London to pick up the slack in that area. Nottingham City Transport is co-owned with Nottingham City Council, the latter retaining the majority shareholding.
Apart from Arriva, there are a few local operators in the Northumberland that run services on behalf of the council and this is one of them. Their turf is the part of the county between Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed and the site has timetable information for what they operate. Quizzically, the times are dispensed using an unusual menu-based interface rather than the more usual timetable displays or journey planner functionality; once you get over that, it does its job. The site is new for 2009 and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s another one for 2010 given the way that things are organised. Like many a travel company, they also turn their hand to private hire and organised excursions too.
Trent is a name dating from the National Bus Company days and the establishment of its joint venture with Centrebus to serve Buxton and its surrounding area, called High Peak, means that it can concentrate its efforts on services in south and east Derbyshire along with Nottinghamshire.
This is the Northern Ireland’s equivalent of Éire’s Bus Éireann and so is an essential port of call for getting about this part of the world.
There cannot be many bus companies that have began life at the behest of a university but that exactly is what this one is. It was started by the University of Hertfordshire in the southeast of England to provide student transport in its catchment area. However, things have expanded from there to include services offered to members of the public too. That meant a name change from UniversityBus to the present day Uno with the strap-line being “the university bus for everyone”. A look down its list of routes reveals many Monday to Friday services though there are ones operating at weekends too. All in all, it’s amazing what can happen to an idea once the general public come in on the act and that certainly seems application to Unobus’s operations, which fan out from its base in Hatfield to inlude locations such as St. Alban’s, Hitchin, Stevenage, Borehamwood and Watford to name but a few.
This Eastleigh-based company provides services that extend to Southampton and Winchester as well as Barton Peveril College. The reason for the name is that they smoothness to be part of the experience and I wonder how they’re doing with that. They started out with two routes before meeting with competition from Bluestar but they seem to be growing all the same. As you’d expect, all their service news, ticketting information and timetables can be found here.
Though it doesn’t look it from the website this is a subsidiary of Arriva in north Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. The services on offer include private hire coaches together with scheduled public and school bus services. Arriva’s acquisition of the north Staffordshire operations of D&G is set to increase the size of Wardle too. It will be interesting to see if this company retains its local feel and its association with Stoke City football club in the time to come.
Also branded Network Warrington, this council-owned operator continues to hold its own and even beat off incursions from rivals a decade or more ago. Recent investment has made an impact though Sunday services have suffered as a result of the current economic climate.
This Rotala subsidiary serves places around Bath, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire using what appears to be a decent fleet. University services also seem to be a big part of what they do. Travel information such as timetables for all of their services in the area are present so this is a worthy port of call.
Worthy of a look because of their being the predominant operator of scheduled bus and coach services in the Argyll and Bute area, they were engaged in a very silly bus war with Scottish Citylink after losing their contracts with the said company a number of years ago. Thankfully, that got sorted and they now operate Citylink services with vehicles in their a livery combined from their own and that of Citylink.
Not only does this operator run services around Wexford town and county but they also connect the county with Dublin and Cork too. Until the Christmas 2010 arctic weather, I hadn’t heard of them but their service frequencies look impressive for most of what they provide.
On my first ever visit to Sedbergh, I missed the last bus out of the place of a Saturday and hired a taxi from this company to get me to Kirkby Stephen train station. However, they also are a coach hire operator and it is for their Monday to Friday scheduled bus services between Sedbergh and Kendal that they get a mention here. Most of these are run without subsidy and complement the subsidised service provided by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire between Kendal and Kirby Stephen.
There was a time when the East Midlands was served by a family owned business named Dunn-Line. That got sold to Veolia in 2006 but 2009 saw Scott Dunn start up Dunn Motor Traction or Your Bus as it is better known. Though I spotted some Durham services and there is a lot of National Express coach work, the main bus business is centred around Nottingham, Derby, Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire. University services are on offer too under the University Hopper brand following the demise of Premiere Travel.
Among these is the Citylink service linking Nottingham and Derby from Monday to Saturday and offering a high frequency of around one every 10 minutes too. Another notable route is the Y36 from Chilwell into the centre of Nottingham that mainly is a Monday to Friday service with added night journeys in the small hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings.
It has come a long way from the earliest journeys along the predecessor to the Y36 and now is based at Heanor in Derbyshire. Let’s hope it continues to do well because the collapse of Premiere Travel highlights the risks of expanding too quickly and Your Bus has not grown slowly either.