Middleton independent devoured by Perthshire giant
Only last week, East of the M60 reported on Stagecoach Manchester’s acquisition of First Greater Manchester’s Wigan operations. Subject to Office of Fair Trading approval, Greater Manchester Buses South Ltd (an indirect operating subsidiary of Stagecoach Manchester), has agreed to acquired Bluebird Bus and Coach for £2 million. The purchase includes its depot on Greengate, Middleton and their 40 buses. Its staff will become Stagecoach employees under TUPE arrangements.
The company was formed in 1988 by Tom Dunstan, who had had experience at North Western Road Car Company, SELNEC Southern and Greater Manchester Transport. After his death in 2004, his son Michael Dunstan took over operations. Quality was its aim from the start, at odds with the reputation some operators had at the beginning of bus deregulation. Today, Bluebird Bus and Coach has a modern fleet of low floor single deckers. Unlike its Middletonian neighbours JPT Travel, it has refrained from aping their more competitive edge. Unlike its bigger rivals, they have operated services on Boxing Day from the start.
Bluebird Bus and Coach’s routes include a mix of commercial and subsidised services. Its main hitter is the 112 from Manchester to Middleton via Moston. Subsidised routes include the 396 from Ashton-under-Lyne to Newton Heath via Fitton Hill – along the route of Mayne of Manchester’s (1988 – 1994) 424 route. Other operations include a free bus for University of Salford students and staff.
Should Stagecoach Manchester gain OFT approval, its fleet will increase to 790, including the 120 acquired from First Greater Manchester’s Wigan operations. Therefore, Stagecoach Holdings could be the proud owner of an English and a Scottish Bluebird. The transfer may be completed by the summer of 2013.
Les Warneford, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “This is a good fit with our existing successful bus network in Greater Manchester. We believe there is scope to develop the business and attract more customers to bus travel through our good value fares and high quality of service.”
By the end of 2013, your DayRider or Manchester Megarider ticket could take you from Makerfield to Middleton and Mossley. We shall see…
S.V., 07 November 2012.