About Bus UK Wilts & Dorset Motor Services Pre 2003
Wilts & Dorset Bus Company is a bus company in England covering Poole, Bournemouth, east Dorset, south Wiltshire and west Hampshire. Its local headquarters is in Poole, but it is now owned by The Go-Ahead Group, a major UK transport group.
The history of Wilts & Dorset is an interesting one, with its name both appearing and disappearing from the sides of buses. Its history is inextricably linked to that of erstwhile south coast operator, Hants & Dorset.
Wilts & Dorset was incorporated in 1915, growing rapidly in the Andover, Amesbury, Blandford Forum, Pewsey and Salisbury areas. The Southern Railway and Thomas Tilling obtained shares in 1931, with Wilts & Dorset subsequently passing into full state ownership in 1948. It acquired Venture of Basingstoke in 1950, with a reorganisation following the voluntary nationalisation of Venture’s parent, Red & White. Wilts & Dorset acquired the notable independent Silver Star of Porton Down in 1963.
Hants & Dorset
Although its predecessor dates from 1916, the Hants & Dorset name emerged in 1920, to reflect the company's operating aspirations that would eventually span from Poole to Fareham via Southampton. It, too, was nationalised in 1948, as a result of the Southern Railway's half-shares, from 1929.
1963 saw a common management structure at Hants & Dorset for both companies, a subsequent fleet renumbering and, upon both passing to the National Bus Company in 1969, a complete merger in 1972 under the Hants & Dorset name, the only concession to the disappearing Wilts & Dorset undertaking being the adoption throughout of a red livery akin to Wilts & Dorset's, Hants & Dorset's heretofore being green.
The logical outworking of NBC's Market Analysis Project was to divide larger operators into units more fitted to their markets. This resulted in the re-emergence in 1983 of Wilts & Dorset, one of three operators then carved from the defunct Hants & Dorset. The new Wilts & Dorset's operating area was considerably larger than its older namesake, including Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth, Lymington and Salisbury, but not Basingstoke.
With the sale of the National Bus Company (NBC), Wilts & Dorset passed to its management in 1987 and, in this independent form, survived longer than most other ex-NBC operators, till the unexpected sale in 2003 to the Go-Ahead Group. This was the existing management team's preference, owing to the way in which Go-Ahead continued to foster individuality.
A period of expansion occurred from November 2005 with the adoption of quality 'more' services, competing with what is now Transdev Yellow Buses. Other incursions eastward to Bournemouth at the time were soon withdrawn, however.
After Southern Vectis (SV) and sister company Solent Blue Line (SBL) were purchased by Go-Ahead in late 2005, a Go-Ahead inspired south coast reorganisation in 2006 brought Wilts & Dorset's management, along with SV and SBL, as part of the new Go South Coast division. All continue to trade under their local names, but this partnership has resulted in buses being moved from depot to depot and from company to company.
In June 2006, Wilts & Dorset conducted 'a big network change' in the Poole area, with some routes merged with others, some renumbered or some withdrawn. Subsequently, further rationalisation has taken place, with a number of long-established routes being fundamentally changed, withdrawn or passed to other operators.
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