On Trains & Buses

Travel news, views & information from Europe & North America by an independent public transport user

Has First really caught the express service coach bug?

Posted on August 19, 2009

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Some may complain that it has the feel of a rough and ready engineering firm that you’d find in a remote corner of the Britain or Ireland but First have had a sizable presence in the express coach market alongside their more mainstream bus and train operations for a while now and you cannot maintain that by being sloppy. In the U.K., there are National Express contracts and the overnight London-Scotland services acquired from Silver Choice earlier this year. In addition to the latter, there also to seem to moves afoot to steal clothes from Stagecoach Express around Glasgow. Crossing to Ireland, there’s Aircoach and I wonder if that operation has taught them a thing or too. Continuing west, over the Atlantic in fact, their efforts to grab a piece of the American yellow schoolbus market brought with them the iconic U.S. express coach operator, Greyhound. With the creation of BoltBus, it is clear that things haven’t stopped there with the American operations and expanding in the U.K. is never something to which they are averse either. The result of that seems to be the introduction of the Greyhound brand over here for services operating between London and England’s southern coast. On that evidence (spotted in today’s Guardian), it looks as if the beleaguered National Express may have yet another woe coming its way with one of its contractors turning to (further) competition. It already has to contend with Megabus and you do have to ask if First is seeing a future bereft of the debt-laden operator following its moves towards a NEG takeover bid. Staying with the topic of questions, the arrival of Greyhound does leave me wondering if those overnight Anglo-Scottish services may yet carry the brand. Well, I might have started with that one…