Who's the biggest bus company these days?

National league tables published as part of the Bus Industry Performance 2020 report show which are the biggest bus companies in Britain by turnover.

Of the 107 local bus companies analysed as part of our 2020 report, a total of 16 now have turnover in excess of £100m a year, with seven of these being outside London.

Britain's biggest company by turnover is London General Transport Services, Go-Ahead Group's single London bus company. The company is one of the eleven original London Buses subsidiaries created by London Transport in 1989, and was originally sold to a management and employee buyout team in November 1994. It was sold on to Go-Ahead Group eighteen months later, in June 1996. Since then, it has evolved into the company we see today, absorbing fellow former LBL subsidiary London Central and other acquisitions including Blue Triangle Buses, Docklands Transit and parts of the former First London business. In 2018/19, the company had a turnover of £493m. 

The second largest operation is also based in London, being Metroline Travel. Another former LBL subsidiary, Metroline was also sold to a management and employee buyout in October 2004  Subsequently, it was floated on the London Stock Exchange in the summer of 1997 before being taken over by its current owners, the Singapore-based transport group Comfort Delgro, in February 2000. Now with a turnover of £283m a year, the company has also absorbed other businesses over the years, including fellow ex-LBL subsidiary London Northern and independents Armchair, R&I Tours and Atlas Coaches. ComfortDelgro also expanded its London operations in June 2013, buying part of the old CentreWest company from FirstGroup. However, these continue to trade as a separate subsidiary, Metroline West - interestingly, this business also comes in the £100m+ category, pulling in revenue totalling £94m in 2018/19. The fourth biggest operator is Arriva London North, the former Leaside Buses, acquired by Arriva's predecessor Cowie Group from London Regional Transport in 1994. The business pulled in revenue of £267m in 2018/19.

The fourth largest company, and the biggest outside London, is West Midlands Travel, the National Express Group subsidiary that operates bus services throughout the West Midlands. The turnover there in 2018/19 was £265m.  Next comes  London United, the French-owned West London business, followed by the largest publicly-owned bus company and the biggest operator in Scotland, Lothian Buses, on just shy of £161m in 2018/19. 

You can see the full table of all 107 companies in our new report Bus Industry Performance 2020. This is on sale HERE. Alternatively, you can subscribe to whole Bus Industry Monitor database - it costs from just 68p per day. Subscribers get all our reports free of charge, and access to raw financial data and a host of other fascinating stuff - like a full listing of bus company privatisation and what subsequently happened to all the companies. CLICK HERE for more information.

Britain's Biggest Bus Companies by Turnover, 2018/19

The sixteen companies with turnover of more than £100m

No

Company Name

Turnover 
(£m)

1
London General Transport Services Limited
493.28
2
Metroline Travel Limited
283.68
3
Arriva London North Limited
267.19
4
West Midlands Travel Limited
264.75
5
London United Busways Limited
172.10
6
Lothian Buses Ltd
160.63
7
East London Bus and Coach Co Ltd (Stagecoach)
146.15
8
Abellio London Limited
146.13
9
First West Yorkshire Limited
133.36
10
Greater Manchester Buses South Ltd  (Stagecoach)
124.77
11
Arriva London South Limited
116.91
12
South East London and Kent Bus Co Ltd (Stagecoach)
108.57
13
Go South Coast Limited
106.27
14
First West of England Limited
105.56
15
Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Co Ltd
102.67
16
Go North East Limited
101.78

 

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