McGill's Bus Services
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McGill's Bus Services

McGill's Bus Service Ltd.
McGill's Bus - - (crop).jpg
Wright Eclipse bodied
Volvo B7RLE painted in traditional McGills colours (Aug. 2012)
Sloganditch the fuss and take the bus
FoundedJuly 2001
HeadquartersGreenock, Scotland, UK
Service areaInverclyde
Glasgow City
North Ayrshire
North Lanarkshire
South Lanarkshire
Service typeBus and coach services
Routes160 (As of January 2021)[1]
DepotsInchinnan, Johnstone, Greenock, Coatbridge
Fleet850+ (December 2020)
Chief executiveRalph Roberts

McGill's Bus Services is a bus operator based in West Central Scotland. The company headquarters are situated in Greenock, Scotland.[2] The present company was founded in July 2001, restoring the name of a previous operator which had existed between 1933 and 1997. However, there is no connection between the two companies other than their names. The company has grown from an initial fleet of 33 vehicles to operate a network of routes covering much of Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, Glasgow City, and North Ayrshire. A second depot in Barrhead was opened in 2008 but has now closed. Four independent operators were taken over by McGill's in the following three years. McGill's has several depots in Greenock, Coatbridge, Inchinnan, and Johnstone.

McGill's took over the surviving operations of Arriva Scotland West in a £10 million deal; this was completed on 26 March 2012, and the company now operates over 450 buses and around 100 routes and employs over 1000 members of staff. Further expansion followed in 2012 and in 2013. McGill's Coaches also bought Henderson Travel after it suddenly ceased business in October 2014, and subsequently took over the company's fleet and service routes which has resulted in the company expanding in North Lanarkshire and becoming the dominant operator in the Monklands area by early 2016.

McGills is the largest independent bus operator in the UK,[1] as well as being named a Scottish Insider top 500 company in January 2016, coming in at 350th place.[1]


Prehistory and early years (1933-2004)

The name "McGill's Bus Services" first came into use in 1933. This company was based in Barrhead and was owned by the McGill family. It expanded significantly during the years leading up to bus deregulation, but in July 1997, sold out to the major operator in the area, Clydeside 2000, in the face of significant competition from independent minibus operators. McGill's initially retained its identity, but was later rebranded as Arriva Scotland West. Another company, Greenock based Ashton Coaches (trading as GMS), was also acquired by Clydeside in the same month.[3]

In July 2001, Arriva decided to withdraw from its Inverclyde operations, which were loss-making and was facing significant competition from independent operators. Its Greenock depot was sold to former GMS owner Alex Kean and the Easdale family with each owning 50%. Arriva had retained a separate operating licence for McGill's, and this was used as the basis for the sale.[2] The McGill's Bus Services name was revived by the new company and a new livery of blue, white, and gold was introduced. The fleet initially consisted of 33 Mercedes-Benz minibuses hired from Arriva; services were operated from a large depot on the Easdale Industrial Estate.[3]

Early in its existence the new company began operating services in competition with Harte Buses, and in September 2004 Harte withdrew from two routes leaving McGill's as the sole operator. In October 2004, Kean sold his shares in the company to the Easdale family, who quickly replaced the hired minibuses with new low-floor vehicles, leading to increases in passenger numbers.[3]

Consolidation & expansion (2005-2015)

Between 2005 and 2008, McGill's introduced a number of new longer-distance routes connecting Inverclyde and Glasgow to Largs, and in May 2005, began operating a series of day excursions branded as Smoothiecruisers.[3] In July 2008, McGill's purchased the stage carriage routes and goodwill of four routes centred on Greenock which had previously been run by Slaemuir Coaches.[4] In the same month, the firm established a second depot in Barrhead on the site of the garage used by the original McGill's Bus Services, which had been vacated by Arriva in 2002.

The new operation traded as United Buses using Greenock and District Omnibuses'[5] 'o' licence with vehicles on hire from ABC Taxis,[6] which also had an 'o' licence, and capitalised on the revocation of the operating licences held by local operator John Walker to move onto four routes previously served by his group of companies.

Twenty step-entrance buses were initially used, but these were largely replaced by low-floor vehicles after four months. The United name was replaced by that of McGill's in September 2009; the same month saw the company introducing the express service X23 between Glasgow and Erskine. By the beginning of 2010, McGill's had become the largest independent bus operator in Scotland, and the fourth largest operator of any type.[3]

A new service linking Greenock and Larkfield was introduced in early 2010 to replace a route withdrawn by Wilson's Coaches.[7] May 2010 saw McGill's expand its services from Dunoon and Greenock to Braehead to cover for the withdrawal of Harte Buses' Braehead Express.[8] In July 2010, the company was fined £60,000 by the Traffic Commissioner for failing to operate some services as timetabled, although it was permitted to expand its fleet from 110 to 150 vehicles.[9] The Smoothiecrusisers network was withdrawn in August 2010.[3]

The company acquired the operations and vehicles of large independent operator Gibson's Direct in September 2010, expanding the size of its fleet by around 70%.[10][11] In February 2011, two small operators based in the Paisley area, Fairway Coaches and Travel Direct, were purchased by McGill's, although no vehicles were acquired.[12][13] Two further acquisitions, of Renfrewshire-based Ferenze Travel and Phoenix Travel, were announced in March 2011.[14] In the same month, Dickson's of Erskine sold its key route 38, a Glasgow to Paisley service operated in competition with both Arriva Scotland West and First Glasgow, to McGill's, who converted the route to low-floor operation and increased its frequency at a cost of £1.5 million.[15]

In March 2012, McGill's purchased the remaining Arriva Scotland West operation. The sale included 165 vehicles, 380 staff, and depots at Inchinnan and Johnstone. The deal expanded the McGill's a fleet to over 350 buses.[16][17][18][19][20]

On 15 October 2012, it was announced that McGill's were to acquire the local bus services of Balloch-based McColls Coaches for £3 million, with 30 buses joining the fleet.[21] In June 2013, four new routes in the Paisley area were introduced by the company to replace those of Riverside Transport.[22]

In January 2014, McGill's was linked with a bid to operate the 360-bus network on the Mediterranean island of Malta following the end of Arriva's operations there.[23] A month later, the company pulled out of the bid citing a lack of transparency on the part of the island's government.[24] Back in Scotland, an open-top tour of Inverclyde was introduced in April 2015.[25]

Lanarkshire expansion (2016-)

In the summer of 2015, the company announced its plans to double in size by 2020. Sandy Easdale said: "It's all about growth and now that were moving forward since the Competition Commission it's about growing McGill's. That's the aim - in the next 5 years' double everything. We are looking at expanding in Lanarkshire in the near future and we are in discussions with some smaller companies to be buying them out in the area and that will join into McGill's. But the good thing about it is that every time McGill's grows outside the area it actually employs people in the Greenock Head Office. It's all about employment. It would be easy to move our head office elsewhere but we stay in Greenock and we're great supporters of the local economy. We're concentrating on our own things and growing our business organically."[26]

On 20 January 2016, McGill's announced its first acquisition in Monklands area of Lanarkshire, when a deal was reached to purchase the bus routes of McNairn Coaches and JJ Travel for an undisclosed sum. The deal included 14 members of staff and a number of vehicles.[27][28] On 2 February 2015, a second acquisition was made with the routes of Arthur's Coaches and D.A. Coaches being bought out along with three vehicles.[29][30]

On 30 May 2016, McGills purchased the routes and local service vehicles of Silverdale Coaches. On 29 August 2016, the company moved premises from a depot in Blantyre Industrial Estate near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire Hamilton to a new fully refurbished facility in Coatbridge with all services and buses from the Hamilton depot transferring to the new facility. A number of revisions were introduced to the Monklands services from this date improving services and connections for passengers.

Xplore Dundee Acquisition (2020)

On 22 December 2020, McGills Announced they were purchasing Xplore Dundee and Xplore More from National Express from January 2021. The business trades in Dundee under the Xplore Dundee brand for bus travel and Xplore More for coach travel. There are 350 employees and a fleet of 117 buses which includes the 4 Xplore More Coaches.The business turns over more than £18m and is based at the East Dock Street site that it has occupied since being owned by the council.

Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill's Buses, said: "We are purchasing the shares of the company and all activities will carry on as normal.There are no immediate plans to change the branding of the buses."[31]

Ownership and management

McGill's Bus Services was initially owned by Alex Kean and the Easdale family with each owning 50%. In October 2004, Kean sold his 50% share to the Easdale family. Managed by brothers James and Sandy Easdale, they also own a number of taxi firms in the Inverclyde region, as well as several non-transport businesses.[3]

Former Arriva Scotland West managing director Ralph Roberts joined McGill's in March 2010.[32] General manager Bert Hendry and finance director Graeme Davidson retained their positions, while James Easdale became the firm's chairman.[33] Colin Napier, who had previously worked for Coakley Bus & Coach and McKindless, became the company's area manager for its eastern operations in August 2010.[34] Colin has since been appointed to Head of Operations & Commercial.


As of January 2013, the fleet consisted of 359 buses.[35]

McGill's was formed with a fleet of 33 Mercedes-Benz minibuses hired from their former owner Arriva Scotland West. Many of these vehicles were previously used by Ashton Coaches and were quickly repainted from their previous green and gold or aquamarine colour schemes into the McGill's blue, white, and gold livery. The minibuses began to be replaced following the Easdale family's acquisition of McGill's in 2004, and a large number of new low-floor buses were bought over the following years as the company expanded, initially Dennis Dart SLFs and DAF SB120s. A rare Hispano bodied Volvo B7L was acquired from Arriva Midlands; later deliveries of new vehicles included Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Darts, Alexander Dennis Enviro300s Mercedes-Benz Citaros, Volvo B7RLEs and Scania L94UBs.

The United operation in Renfrewshire began in 2008 with second-hand step-entrance Darts; these were quickly replaced by low-floor vehicles, with the depot becoming 100% low-floor by September 2009. A number of Caetano bodied Dart SLFs were bought from Bluestar in 2009 for use on new route X23.[3]

A small number of coaches were operated on route 907, which used the Western Ferries service to Dunoon and required vehicles with ferry lift facilities and low rear overhang. An articulated Volvo B7LA was tested as a means of increasing capacity on services to Glasgow in early 2010, but did not prove successful.[3] Double-deck operation was first tried in November 2009, when an Alexander Dennis Enviro400 was briefly used on route X7.[36] Although no such vehicles were purchased, the trial prompted the company to buy two Volvo B7TLs from London United in autumn 2010 for use on the same route. These were quickly followed by 12 Alexander bodied Dennis Tridents new to Metroline in London.[3]

Modern vehicles inherited into the fleet following the purchase of Arriva Scotland West included six Scania OmniLink and ten VDL SB200/Wright Pulsar. In July 2012, six articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaros were acquired for service 38. A further eight Tridents arrived from London United, along with a batch of at least ten from Stagecoach London. The number of low floor double deck vehicles introduced to the fleet since the purchase of Arriva stands at around 40. Along with an unknown number of further Mercedes-Benz Citaros articulated buses for the Dumbarton area - Glasgow services, these continue to displace elderly vehicles from the former Arriva fleet.

In 2014 McGill's purchased one of the Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s that they had trialled back in 2009, which had been operated by Connex of Jersey before the purchase. Thirteen new Mercedes-Benz Citaros were also acquired for the Glasgow to Greenock routes.

In late 2015, the company bought eight second-hand DAF double deckers from Ensign.

In 2016, McGill's purchased a large number of second hand Alexander Dennis Enviro 200s to operate their new Lanarkshire network. This was complemented by a Wright StreetLite, two BMCs, and a number of Optare Solos which were added to the fleet as a result of the acquisition of Silverdale Coaches. The company has also added a further three second hand Wright StreetLites to the Greenock depot and is awaiting delivery of two Mellor Coachcraft Strata vehicles which are to be operated by Greenock depot.


  1. ^ a b c "McGill's Bus Services". Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ a b Companies House extract company no SC027238 Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine McGill's Bus Service Limited
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Millar, Alan (May 2011). "McGill's: Growing fast by quality". Buses (624): 36-39.
  4. ^ "McGill's Acquire Port Glasgow Routes". 16 July 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ Companies House extract company no SC0211163 Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Greenock and District Omnibus Limited
  6. ^ Companies House extract company no SC215370 Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine ABC Taxis (Inverclyde) Limited
  7. ^ "Bus Operator's Network Expands Again". 16 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "Braehead Bus Changes". 23 May 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "Bus firm is fined for timetable breaches". The Buteman. 7 July 2010. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ "Bus Company Gets Bigger". 4 September 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ McGill's expands in Renfreshire Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine 6 September 2010
  12. ^ "McGills snaps up rivals on the buses". The Scotsman. 26 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ McGill's announces further expansion Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine busandcoach 1 November 2010
  14. ^ "McGill's snaps up two bus companies". The Scotsman. 3 March 2011. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 2011.
  15. ^ Millar, Alan (April 2011). "£1.5m upgrade as McGill's announces latest takeovers". Buses (673): 6.
  16. ^ "Bus firm McGill's to take over rivals Arriva". BBC News. 13 December 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ "McGill's in £10m takeover deal". The Scotsman. 14 December 2011.
  18. ^ Millar, Alan (July 2012). "OFT clears Felix takeover, explains McGill's referral". Buses (688): 11.
  19. ^ Arriva exits Scotland with sale to McGill's Archived 6 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine 14 December 2011
  20. ^ Mcgill's Bus Services Limited/Arriva Scotland West Limited merger inquiry Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Competition Commission 21 September 2012
  21. ^ "McGill's expands with McColl's takeover". Bus and Coach Magazine. 16 October 2012. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013.
  22. ^ Speirs, Kenneth (5 June 2013). "Buses go off the road". Daily Express (Paisley). Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  23. ^ McGill's Buses eyes Malta transport tender Archived 23 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine BBC News, 20 January 2014
  24. ^ Scots firm scraps bid to run buses after Maltese fail to come up with answers Archived 30 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine The Herald, 23 February 2014
  25. ^ Greenock bus firm launches open-top tours Archived 26 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Greenock Telegraph
  26. ^ "McGill's Intends to Double in Size". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 January 2016. Retrieved 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "McGill's motors into Lanarkshire with McNairn deal". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  29. ^ "Greenock bus company McGill's snap up two more firms". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2016.
  30. ^ McGill's bus firm Acquires routes from another two independent operators, By Victoria Masterson. p21 Glasgow Herald 3rd Feb 2016
  31. ^ "Bus Firm Xplore Dundee Sold to McGill's Services 22 December 2020".
  32. ^ "Growing with McGill's" (238). 2 August 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  33. ^ "Roberts gets onboard as new MD of McGill's". The Scotsman. 19 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 2011.
  34. ^ "Napier moves to McGill's Buses". 31 August 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013.
  35. ^ Fleetlists Archived 6 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "Double Decker Is Just The Ticket". 27 November 2009. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 2011.

External links

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