The Rise And Fall Of The UK Bus Giants…

I suppose that it is truth that the older that you get, the more you begin to understand what you might call the circle of life. Yes, a well known Elton John soundtrack to a well known film and west end show. But, maybe more importantly what I am learning as I enter my dotage is that nothing lasts for ever. Obvious of course but still never the less a truism that I suppose that in truth, you probably don’t want things to change that you have watched get created over the course of your working life. But, guess what mate, that is what happens, it is as the song says, the circle of life.

However, nothing lasts for ever, which is perfectly true and irrespective if you believe it or not, reality will always rise to the top. And so it transpires that all that I took for granted, for example the mighty bus empires that I thought would last forever, do not. Ironically the Guardian published an excellent article this week, on the demise of Stagecoach, from one time mighty International multi billion worldwide transport group, it has now shrunk back to its humble roots of basically a UK Bus company. Sadly gone are the rail franchises, including the once mighty Virgin West Coast franchise split equally between Sir Brian Souter, and Sir Richard Branson, which is about to be confined to the history books. Along with business activities in the USA, (long since gone) and once brilliant bus operations in eastern Europe. Including my personal favourite Polski Bus. I was very fortunate to be invited to write a number of articles as a free lance journalist about the massive impact that Polski bus had when it arrived onto the drab and cold, boring Polish inter city coach market.

Polskibus was magnificent, it was everything entrepreneurial that Sir Brian had achieved, and almost overnight it dominated the market, it was in a completely different league, vehicles, livery, hostesses, price, you name it, it was ahead of its time. But today all I have left is my Polskibus mug, sadly Polskibus got sold off along with the other Coach brands. But, and I suppose this is the thing in life. Nothing last forever, sentiment does not come into it, it is what it is, and we have to accept it. Off now to cry into my beer, at least I still have that left.

Written by Austin Birks

June 21, 2019

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