Services to the Industry 2008

sponsored by Giles Fearnley and Stuart Wilde 

The Award for Services to the Bus Industry recognises a significant and sustained contribution to the success of the industry by an individual who has gone consistently beyond the call of normal duty to improve and promote the bus indistry for its users or the wider community.

The award was presented to Brian Souter, Chief Executive, Stagecoach Group plc.

The Award Citation 

Stagecoach chief Brian Souter, award winner for 2008Over the years since it was first introduced, our award for services to the industry has been given to a wide variety of people and organisations – sometimes, but not always, to people coming to the end of their careers.

This year is one of those occasions when the award is being presented to somebody who is still very active indeed in the industry, and hopefully will be for many years to come.

He has been involved in the industry since the 1970s, when as a young student he worked as a bus conductor – an experience which shaped his approach to the industry and to its customers. In the early days of deregulation, he and his sister established a highly successful express coach operation, followed by a local bus operation in Glasgow in 1986.

The company was, and is, called Stagecoach.

Over the 20 years and more since the privatisation and deregulation of our industry, our winner this year has led an organisation that has always been at the forefront of change in the passenger transport industry – whether with minibus services, the Stagecoach Express coach network, rail privatisation, Magic Bus, Megarider tickets, Megabus and most recently award-winning innovations such as the Where You Want to Be tele-marketing campaign or Goldline services.

We honour him this year for his belief in a genuinely market-led business, for developing and building a highly successful company, for his widely-admired leadership skills and for his charismatic approach to both internal management and industry leadership – which, we trust, he will be exercising for many years to come.

Who could be nominated?

Individuals working in any bus-related environment and at any level of seniority.

… and by whom?

Nominations are accepted from operators, local authorities (including Passenger Transport Executives and Transport for London), other bodies involved in the planning and provision of local bus services and other organisations working with the industry or on behalf of its users.

The Criteria:

Given the broad spread of individuals that might be nominated for this award, the UKBA Management Committee uses its discretion in considering nominations and will seek the necessary verification. The following will be taken into account:

  • The level of service delivered
  • Any special circumstances
  • Consistent record of achievement
  • Sustainability of the entrant’s contributions

About Stagecoach Group and Brian Souter’s achievements

Stagecoach Group plc can trace its origins to a family self drive caravan rental business formed in Perth in 1976. This venture expanded into minibus operation, but its true entry into the bus industry was in 1980, when it adopted the Stagecoach name and entered the long-distance express coach business at the time of deregulation. Services between Scotland and England grew rapidly. To exploit the later deregulation of bus services, Stagecoach set up Magicbus in Glasgow in 1986, and launched competition with the established operators with considerable success. It also expanded in Perthshire.


The privatisation of the National Bus Company in England and Wales gave Stagecoach the opportunity to start a period of rapid expansion. In 1987, it acquired Hampshire Bus, Cumberland Motor Services and United Counties from NBC, followed within a few years by purchases from management buy-out teams at East Midland Motor Services, Ribble, Southdown, Portsmouth CityBus, Hastings & District, East Kent and small groups such as Western Travel and Transit Holdings. Former local authority operations were acquired in Lancaster, Darlington, Grimsby-Cleethorpes, Cleveland, Hull and Hartlepool. Further businesses were acquired on privatisation from the Scottish Bus Group (Bluebird Northern and Fife Scottish) and London Regional Transport (East London and Selkent).


The group was successfully floated on the stock market in 1993, and began a move into the major urban areas with purchases in Tyne and Wear and Greater Manchester as well as the London companies – and this has been followed since by moves into Merseyside and South Yorkshire.


Stagecoach was an early participant in the rail privatisation process, acquiring South West Trains and the Island Line (both of which it still operates), followed by a period in charge of one of the Rolling Stock Leasing companies (Porterbrook), and the acquisition of a 49% stake in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Rail group. In November 2007, the company became the operator of the new East Midlands rail franchise.


Over the years the company has been involved in several overseas countries around the world, including in Malawi, Kenya, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Portugal, Sweden and the United States. However, the group has always been willing to move on if businesses have not performed in line with expectations, or if shareholders’ interests could be advanced by a profitable disposal.

As well as its UK rail and local bus operations, Stagecoach runs the successful light rail systems in Sheffield and Greater Manchester, together with its rapidly growing long distance bus networks in both the UK and the USA.

Its most recent innovations in the UK local bus market have been the Where You Want to Be telemarketing campaign, which won the Department for Transport’s Winning New Customers Award at the UK Bus Awards 2007, and the Goldline bus services, specifically designed to attract the middle-class professional commuter back to using regional bus networks.

Stagecoach operations in West Scotland and Cambridge have also been multiple award winners in recent years – whilst the group has, alongside several others, achieved very strong results in terms of growing its core UK bus market throughout this year, despite all the uncertainties brought about by the banking crisis and the onset of recession.

The TEG logoThe UK Bus Awards scheme is organised by The Bus Industry Awards Limited, a company registered in England & Wales No 3332837.

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