|Slogan||"Citylinking... smart thinking!"
"green thinking, citylinking"
|Service type||Long distance coach services|
|Operator||Contracted to various|
Scottish Citylink is a long distance express coach operator in Scotland and Ireland (where it operates as Irish Citylink). The company was formed as a subsidiary of Scottish Transport Group in March 1985. Since September 2005 it has been operated as a 65/35 joint venture between ComfortDelGro and Stagecoach.
Scottish Citylink operates an extensive network of long distance express services within Scotland, operating 19 routes linking the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Inverness, as well as linking the rural Highland communities to the main urban areas of Scotland. Services also operate to Northern Ireland via the ferry links between Stranraer and Belfast, and there are seasonal workings to Blackpool. In all, over 200 destinations are served by Scottish Citylink within Scotland on a network utilising approximately 90 coaches provided by operators local to the 'destination' area, carrying over 3 million passengers annually.
Despite the extent of Citylink's operations in Scotland, there are notable geographical regions that have little to no connections with the network, some of which include large urban areas. These tend to be areas served by subsidiaries of Stagecoach, which operate their own comprehensive Stagecoach Express network, to destinations such as Ayrshire (Kilmarnock, Ayr and Irvine), Fife (Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and St Andrews), Dumfries & Galloway, Aberdeenshire and Moray. An exception is the Scottish Borders, which is covered by FirstGroup, though has no regular express service.
Scottish Citylink Coaches was formed in 1985 during the reorganisation of the Scottish Bus Group to co-ordinate and manage the long distance express services operated by the other SBG subsidiaries, particularly the Western Scottish and Eastern Scottish services from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London and the south.
By combining the SBG express network, Citylink became the largest operator of long distance express services within Scotland, and from Scotland to England and Wales. With the main hubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh, many services to the Highlands and Islands were in some cases vital to rural areas as the only public transport link available (which still holds true today).
One vehicle was owned to satisfy licensing conditions but this was operated as part of the Western Scottish fleet. Citylink itself did not operate any vehicles but a uniform two-tone blue and yellow livery was introduced for coaches operating Citylink services, with the subsidiary's corporate fleetname displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle. Previously, only cross-border services had adopted some form of corporate look in the late 1970s, with vehicles wearing a simple but striking blue and white livery with bold Scottish fleetnames in the SBG corporate logo style.
Subsidiary companies operated Citylink vehicles on express services originating from their operating area, and where long distance services spanned one or two operating areas, the routes were shared between the companies. The level of involvement of the subsidiary firms in providing Citylink work varied with size and geography. Central Scottish, Strathtay Scottish, Kelvin Scottish and Clydeside Scottish were the smaller contributors as no major city or destination lay within their main operating regions. Indeed, Clydeside marketed its own express services within its area as Clydeside Quicksliver with its own distinct brand.
As the Scottish Bus Group prepared for privatisation, Citylink franchises were no longer exclusive to the SBG subsidiaries. Private companies such as Rapson's Coaches, Inverness, Henry Crawford Coaches, Neilston, West Coast Motors, Campbeltown, Skye-Ways and Park's, Hamilton were awarded Citylink contracts and provided vehicles of their own for this work. Also seen using a Citylink livery but with the distinctive Ulsterman lettering, Ulsterbus provided coaches for services between Londonderry / Belfast to Birmingham and London via towns in Dumfries and Galloway. This route was also operated by Dodds, Troon and Western Scottish.
Citylink itself was privatised in August 1990, when sold in a management buyout to its management and employees. As the Scottish Bus Group broke up, the number of private operators working Citylink contracts increased. Park's, West Coast Motors and Rapson's were now major contributors, while the former SBG companies now owned by Stagecoach (Fife Scottish, Western Scottish, Bluebird Buses) began operating their own Stagecoach Express network.
In 1993 Scottish Citylink was sold to National Express. At that time, cross border services to England were replaced by National Express services, leaving Citylink with Scottish domestic services, and co-ordinated timetabling and ticketing was introduced between the two operators. During this period, Citylink took a stake in West Coast Motors, purchased Skye-Ways Coaches and also Highland Country Buses, which was an off-shoot of Highland Scottish.
With the privatisation of British Rail, in 1997 National Express won the ScotRail franchise. The Competition Commission ruled this would give National Express a monopoly on long distance services in Scotland and ordered the sale of Scottish Citylink.
In 2002, the company began trading in the Republic of Ireland, acquiring Cummer Commercials, which operated on the Dublin to Galway route (and confusingly also traded as CityLink Express). The route has since been rebranded to the yellow-blue Citylink livery (although without the "Scottish" prefix) and has expanded to provide services from Galway to Shannon.
The company current head office is located at Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow, where many of its services are to and from. Citylink itself does not operate or own nearly all of its vehicle's expect for one, owned and operated by West Coast Motors to satisfy licensing conditions. The two-tone blue and yellow colour scheme is still used, though its application and style have changed over the years.
From 2004, the companies operates faced heavy competition from Megabus and Motorvator, both subsidiaries of the Stagecoach. In September 2005 ComfortDelGro and Stagecoach agreed to a joint venture on the provision of express coach services in Scotland, ending the competition between the two operators. Under the terms of the agreement, Stagecoach gained a 35% shareholding in Scottish Citylink and in return granted certain rights to the Megabus and Motorvator brands in Scotland.
Despite being a minority shareholder, Stagecoach appeared to have assumed operational control. Stagecoach staff replaced much of the former Citylink management, while Stagecoach's Scottish subsidiaries began operating many of the routes formerly operated by subcontractors displaced from Citylink work. Citylink service numbers, timetables and routes were also sacrificed in favour of Megabus where the two brands overlapped.
In March 2006 the Competition Commission launched an investigation and ruled that the joint venture substantially reduced competition and that evidence suggested it led to higher fares on some routes. Stagecoach immediately criticised the ruling, stating that a period of further consultation would cause uncertainty among passengers and leave vital services in limbo, while jeopardising Scotland's intercity coach network and its ability to compete with both train and car Criticism of the Competition Commission's draft findings grew in Scotland and the joint venture received support from across the political spectrum in the Scottish Parliament In early 2008, certain routes, which were at the time already contacted out to Park's, were divested to them comply with the ruling.
In 2010, Citylink launched "Gold" brand for services between Glasgow and Aberdeen or Inverness. The Citylink Gold brand is similar to the Stagecoach Gold brand used by Stagecoach Bus subsidiaries providing a more luxurious service with leather seats, free wi-fi and extra services aboard. With Citylink Gold passengers are offered free tea and coffee on the respective services. Three services per day in each direction on both services from Glasgow to Aberdeen and Glasgow to Inverness are designated as Citylink Gold. Fares have remained the same with Super Singles available on the routes as they were whilst under standard Citylink branding. The Citylink Gold services are as follows:
- G9 Glasgow - Aberdeen
- G10 Glasgow - Aviemore - Inverness
- G92 Edinburgh - Aberdeen
- Companies House extract company no SC91931[dead link] Scottish Citylink Coaches Limited
- Timetables Scottish Citylink
- Competition Commission report 1996 Page 31 Competition Commission
- National Express told to sell Citylink local.gov.uk 29 May 1998
- History of Metroline Metroline
- Competition Commission - Scottish Citylink report Competition Commission 2006
- Stagecoach Group reaction to Competition Commission announcement Stagecoach Group 23 October 2006
- Competition Commission - Citylink responses draft Competition Commission 2006
- Citylink confirms partial divestment of intercity coach services Scottish Citylink 4 February 2008
- Scottish Citylink Completes Sale of Services Competition Commission 5 February 2008
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