On the buses for a fascinating time in transport

We see buses on our streets every day, but there’s a fascinating story about the industry as we know it today.

On 26 October 1986 Britain’s bus services were deregulated. This applied to all services operated in England, Scotland and Wales (but not in Northern Ireland or London).

In the run-up to deregulation the Scottish Bus Group was restructured from seven companies (Central, Eastern, Fife, Midland, Northern, Highland and Western Scottish) into 11 companies along with Scottish Citylink Coaches.

The new companies (Clydeside, Kelvin, Strathtay and Lowland Scottish) all developed bright new liveries to set them apart from their former owners.

Competition for passengers was fierce with existing operators suddenly facing new rival operators; congestion and bitter battles took place across the country.

In order to survive companies had to work hard to win new passengers as well as keep their existing passengers. New liveries, marketing campaigns and new vehicles both big and small arrived. Most companies dabbled with minibuses – some even went back to crew operation, and large fleets of London Routemaster buses took to the streets of Glasgow.

Kenny Barclay, a lifelong transport enthusiast, shares some of his photographs of the vehicles to be seen on the roads of Scotland leading up to and after Deregulation Day, showing the fast pace of the changes that took place during this time.

Each of the photos is accompanied by informative text with the history of the vehicle, as well as modifications which may have been made to it.

For the casual reader, this probably won’t appeal, however, it does offer a fascinating insight into how buses, advertising and indeed our high streets have changed over the years, as we peep through a window in time to a bygone era.

For me, seeing the bright orange buses of the former Strathclyde Transport brought me several smiles and happy memories of getting the bus to work.

Scottish Buses During Reregulation, by Kenny Barclay, published by Amberley, £14.99.

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