Transport giant Stagecoach is to plough more than £100 million into its fleet over the coming year after unveiling its largest ever order for buses and coaches, the bulk of which will be built in the UK.
The Perth-based group said the investment in almost 570 vehicles takes its total spending on regional bus operations in the last seven years to about £545m.
The deal comes less than two months after Aberdeen-based rival FirstGroup unveiled plans to spend £70m on 425 buses, which at the time was said to be a record for outside London.
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said the orders marked “a huge vote of confidence” in the future of bus and coach travel in the UK, as more people opt to save money by leaving their cars at home.
He added: “This record investment is a major boost for UK jobs in manufacturing and many other smaller businesses in the supply chain.”
The firm – which last week said regional bus revenues rose 4.6 per cent in the 40 weeks to 2 February – is due to receive its first deliveries in the spring. Alexander Dennis of Falkirk is to supply 485 of the vehicles.
Colin Robertson, the bus maker’s chief executive, said the order was worth about £65m to the firm, which employs 2,000 people across its production facilities at Falkirk, Guildford and Scarborough.
He said: “This is another massive boost for the whole of the bus manufacturing sector, and, from an Alexander Dennis perspective, I am delighted that we have again won the lion’s share of the new business. We have worked closely with Stagecoach over many years to ensure that we design, engineer and build class-leading products.”
Sir Brian Souter, co-founder and chairman of Stagecoach, has a stake in Alexander Dennis through his private investment vehicle, which also has interests in Polish express coach service Polski Bus and Turkish ferry operator Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri.
Stagecoach is also buying 20 coaches for its Megabus routes across the UK and Europe, including three sleeper buses for overnight services.