First Group steers Greyhound to new horizons

AMERICA’s Greyhound buses, celebrated in song and film, will soon be roaring down UK motorways.

First Group, which bought Greyhound two years ago, is to start services from London next month. The company, led by Sir Moir Lockhead, chief executive, plans to use the famous brand to take on National Express and Megabus, which is owned by Stagecoach. Fares will start at £1.

The first routes will be to cities within a two-and-a-half hour drive of the capital, in Oxfordshire and the Midlands. First Group declined to comment but it is understood it will start small, with “tens” of buses rather than a big fleet, and will use the grey Greyhound livery.

The US company was set up in Minnesota in 1914 by Carl Wickman, a Swedish immigrant. The coaches’ grey livery led to them being nicknamed “greyhounds” and the company took on the name in 1929. Mass car ownership and low-cost airlines brought hard times and the company has twice filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. First Group bought its parent company, Laidlaw International, for £1.9 billion.

First Group will model its service on Bolt Bus, an American division of Greyhound aimed at younger travellers, with facilities such as wi-fi.