First Somerset & Avon
|Service type||Bus services|
|Fleet||283 (March 2014)|
The company name First Somerset & Avon dates only from 2003, although the origins of the company date back to 1887. The company combines the former Badgerline operation that became part of FirstBus in April 1995, and the Somerset operations of Southern National, acquired in 1999.
Badgerline was formed in 1985 as the business name of the Bristol Country Bus operations (in South Gloucestershire, Bath, Somerset and Wiltshire) of the Bristol Omnibus Company (then part of the National Bus Company). In 1986 the operations were transferred to a separate legal entity and privatised in September 1986 in a management buyout. After Badgerline merged with GRT Group to form FirstBus in April 1995, the operation was rebranded as First, although Badgerline Limited continued as the legal name of the operator.
In 2001 FirstGroup changed the legal structure of some of its bus operating subsidiaries. The legal entity which had been Badgerline Limited was renamed First City Line Limited and became the operator of Bristol city services (now First Bristol Limited). The legal entity which had been First Bristol Buses Limited (which had previously been Bristol Omnibus Company, incorporated in 1887) was renamed First Somerset & Avon Limited in May 2003. and became the operator of Badgerline's former services.
Southern National was formed in 1983 as the Somerset and Dorset operations of Western National (then part of the National Bus Company). It was privatised in 1988, acquired by FirstGroup in 1999 and rebranded as First Southern National. In 2003 the Somerset operations of First Southern National were merged into First Somerset & Avon.
In 2013 buses started to be painted into the new FirstBus livery and 'West of England' branding was applied on both sides beneath the windows (on some single decks the branding is applied above the windows towards the front of the bus). First Somerset & Avon is still printed on some tickets, while other tickets are printed with First Bristol & Avon or simply just First Bristol.
In February 2014, First's Bridgwater and Taunton business was rebranded as The Buses of Somerset in an unprescedented break from the FirstGroup corporate style. The business instead now sports a two tone green and cream livery with bespoke branding, website and social media profiles. These services are now part of First Devon & Cornwall
As at March 2014 the fleet consisted of 283 buses and coaches.
- Companies House extract company no 1966227 First Bristol Limited formerly First City Line Limited formerly Badgerline Limited
- First Somerset & Avon Limited formerly First Bristol Buses Limited formerly Bristol Omnibus Company Limited Companies House extract company no 25088
- Buses Magazine, Issue 648, March 2009, Ian Allan Publishing
- First introduces The Buses of Somerset Euro Transport 30 January 2014
- First drops corporate look in Somerset Bus & Coach Professional 5 February 2014
- FirstGroup Fleetlist Steve White
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