America’s Greyhound buses geared for UK launch
America’s iconic Greyhound buses are heading to the UK. FirstGroup, the British company that owns Greyhound Lines, will start operating next month with hourly services from London to Portsmouth and Southampton.
The launch follows the purchase of Greyhound’s parent company Laidlaw International by Scottish-based FirstGroup two years ago for £1.9bn.
The company has already started American style yellow school buses, and now it is setting its sights on taking on National Express and Megabus in the UK budget transport market.
FirstGroup is aiming to emulate BoltBus, an American division of Greyhound targeted at younger travellers, who might not want to pay the extra to travel by rail. Fares start from £1.50, and include free wi-fi on the buses.
The new Greyhounds will be refurbished Scania coaches rather than the classic Silverside buses. Each of the coaches will take their names from American songs dedicated to women, such as Sweet Caroline, Barbara Ann, Jolene and Peggy Sue.
Sir Moir Lockhead, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: “Since FirstGroup took over Greyhound in 2007, we have hoped to bring this famous brand across the Atlantic and I am absolutely delighted to reveal the first authentic Greyhound coaches in the UK.”
Greyhound was set up in Minnesota in 1914 by Carl Wickman, a Swedish immigrant.
It took its name from the grey livery on the original buses.
With the arrival of mass car ownership and later low-cost airlines, the company fell on hard times, twice filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.