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Kelvin Scottish Omnibuses Ltd, in Scotland, was a bus operating subsidiary of the Scottish Transport Group formed in June 1985 from Walter Alexander & Sons (Midland) Ltd and Central SMT Company Ltd, and operated until July 1989 when it was merged with Central Scottish to form Kelvin Central Buses.

Kelvin Scottish Routemaster WLT 371 shown in Easterhouse

Operation

From its head office in Bishopbriggs, Kelvin Scottish had an operating area bounded by Loch Lomond to the west, Cumbernauld to the east, the Campsie Fells to the north and the River Clyde to the south.

Kelvin was the largest operator in Dunbartonshire and north east Glasgow, and was responsible for urban, rural and interurban services in and around Dumbarton, Alexandria, Clydebank, Milngavie, Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth and Cumbernauld. Depots were located in Old Kilpatrick, Milngavie, Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth, Stepps and Cumbernauld.

Kelvin also provided coaches for Scottish Citylink express work, mainly from Glasgow to Loch Lomond and the north west of Scotland.

History

Kelvin was created by the Scottish Bus Group in preparation for deregulation of the British bus industry in 1986, and eventual privatisation. The company was carved out of existing SBG subsidiaries Central Scottish (Old Kilpatrick depot) and Midland Scottish (Milngavie, Kirkintilloch, Kilsyth, Stepps and Cumbernauld depots). The company initially adopted a simple two-tone blue livery for its fleet, but in a matter of months a far more striking two-tone blue and yellow livery was introduced. A simpler version of this scheme also existed, playing down the sweeping colours, but seemed to be applied only occasionally to certain vehicles.

On deregulation, Kelvin introduced additional fleetnames to their vehicles to establish local identities. DumbartonBUS appeared on vehicles operating in Dumbarton and Loch Lomondside, KirkieBUS on Kirkintilloch based vehicles and Cumbernauld's Buses on vehicles stationed in that town. At the same time, a large number of old London Transport Routemaster buses were purchased and a network of high frequency services launched within the city of Glasgow, competing directly with the city operator Strathclyde Buses. The crew-operated vehicles would run between Clydebank, the large housing estates of Drumchapel, Easterhouse and Springburn, into the city centre. The city operator responded by extending its services into Clydebank, Cumbernauld, Dumbarton, Kirkintilloch and Milngavie. The Routemasters proved popular, however, and continued to operate into the 1990s (when the company had become Kelvin Central Buses) and the company was one of the last operators of the type in regular service in Scotland.

Central Scottish was merged with Kelvin in July 1989 to form Kelvin Central Buses Ltd in an effort to make the company more attractive on the approach to privatisation. The merger was not a popular one, however, as Kelvin had been one of the more successful of the SBG subsidiaries, whereas Central had been paralysed for months by strike action and was in severe financial difficulty. Upon the merger, Kelvin Scottish ceased trading as a stand-alone subsidiary.

Following privatisation, Kelvin Central was bought out by the First Group, who rebranded it First Glasgow, and introduced the First Group corporate pink, purple and white livery to replace the former blue. As the First Group were also successful in their bid in purchasing the former City of Glasgow bus network (as Strathclyde Buses) the number of competing services fell dramatically.

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