Stagecoach Strathtay vehicles at Forfar outstation in May 2007
|Founded||1985 (as Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses)|
|Locale||Dundee, Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Forfar and Montrose|
Stagecoach Strathtay is a Scottish bus operating company which covers the Dundee and Angus areas, and parts of Grampian. It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, which bought Strathtay Scottish Omnibuses Ltd from Traction Group in 2005. Strathtay Scottish was formed in 1985 as a subsidiary of the Scottish Transport Group, from parts of Walter Alexander & Sons (Midland) Ltd and Walter Alexander & Sons (Northern) Ltd. Stagecoach have retained the right to the operating name Strathtay Scottish; this is reflected in the legal lettering on the company's vehicles.
Since joining the Stagecoach Group, Stagecoach Strathtay now has an operating area bounded by Aberdeen in the north, Gauldry & Newport-on-Tay to the south and Perth to the west. Before joining Stagecoach, Strathtay operated only as far as Laurencekirk in the north; however, the Montrose depot has acquired some work from Bluebird's Stonehaven depot, including route 24 from Brechin to Stonehaven, route 103 from Laurencekirk to Aberdeen and a handful of School Contracts serving Mackie Academy in Stonehaven.
Strathtay is the largest operator in Angus and operates urban, rural and interurban services in and around Dundee, Arbroath, Blairgowrie, Forfar and Montrose. Depots are located in Arbroath, Blairgowrie and Dundee. On its creation Strathtay was also the largest operator in Perth, Crieff and Pitlochry, but depots in those towns have closed in 1993 and operations were scaled back, ironically due to intensive 'Stagecoach' competition at the time. In 2010 Montrose depot closed due to contract losses. A depot exists in Forfar but is considered to be a sub depot of Arbroath.
Although Strathtay's Head Office at Dundee bus station has been closed, there still remains a Booking/Depot Office at that site. Head Office functions were amalgamated with Stagecoach East Scotland (which also covers Fife and Perth operating areas) at Guthrie House in Cowdenbeath. On 18 May 2009, the Cowdenbeath head office was relocated to Evans House, John Smith Business Park, Kirkcaldy.
Strathtay Scottish was a brand new company created through reorganisation of the Scottish Bus Group in preparation for deregulation of the bus industry in 1986, and eventual privatisation. It inherited the eastern operations of Alexanders (Midland) based in Perth, Crieff and Pitlochry, as well as the southern operations of Alexanders (Northern) in Dundee, Forfar, Arbroath,Blairgowrie and Montrose. A bright blue and orange livery was adopted for the fleet, which would be controlled from Dundee.
The company would have a turbulent infancy, however, as Strathtay Scottish faced very heavy competition from local Perth-based firm, Stagecoach. Strathtay Scottish purchased a number of ex-London Transport Routemaster buses to counter the competition, which also used a number of the same vehicle type on city services in Perth. A new Perth City Transport brand was created by Strathtay Scottish to compete with Stagecoach, using a mainly red livery with white. But as Stagecoach grew nationally it became financially stronger and had ready access to vehicles from the larger companies in England it had purchased. Strathtay's managing director, Neil Renilson, moved to Stagecoach in 1989. Strathtay Scottish could not sustain the level of intense competition that ensued, and in 1993 it closed its Perth depot. Crieff and Pitlochry also closed, and the company withdrew from the majority of services around these towns.
Despite experiencing heavy and sustained competition on the lucrative city services in Perth, Strathtay Scottish managed to remain profitable on the run up to privatisation, and in June 1991 was sold to Barnsley-based Yorkshire Traction Ltd for £1.9m. Now trading simply as Strathtay Buses, the new owners established and maintained a working relationship with Stagecoach around Perth, even jointly operating the trunk service between Dundee and Perth with the national operator, while the remainder of the operations remained largely unchanged from privatisation.
On 14 December 2005, Strathtay Buses' parent company Traction Group was purchased by Stagecoach for £26m. Strathtay is bordered to the north, east and south by Stagecoach subsidiaries, all part of Stagecoach East Scotland, which Strathtay has also joined. The Stagecoach corporate livery has been adopted for vehicles and initially, most displayed Strathtay - Part of the Stagecoach Group fleetnames, however almost all buses have now been re-branded with "Stagecoach Strathtay".