Go-Ahead expands with Dartline acquisition

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Dartline operates a fleet of 84 coaches and buses on a range of work. RICHARD SHARMAN

Go-Ahead is to take over the Exeter-based company, adding 118 employees and 84 buses to its South West operations

The Go-Ahead Group has agreed to buy Exeter-based operator Dartline, expanding the group’s position in Devon and Cornwall. A well-established business with 30 years’ experience in the region, Dartline operates a fleet of 84 buses, coaches and special education needs taxis, and employs 118 people. It operates school services and private hires across East Devon, along with a number of bus routes which are a mixture of commercial and contracted services operated for Devon County Council. The company also operates the team coach for the Exeter Chiefs rugby union team.

Go-Ahead has grown significantly in the last decade in the West Country. From its origins as Plymouth Citybus, the group expanded into East Cornwall in 2014, and again in 2020 through an eight-year contract to deliver rural bus routes from Lands End to the Tamar for the county council, creating Go Cornwall Bus. The combined operation was given a new corporate identity as Go South West.

Following the acquisition of Dartline, Go South West will operate four customer-facing brands operating 380 buses and coaches and employing a workforce of 900 people.

Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Go South West, said: “We’ve been admirers of Dartline for a long time – it’s a family focused, well run bus company with a strong reputation and a competitive fleet. This acquisition will take us into wider Devon, and will mean that Go South West bus services stretch from the western tip of Cornwall to the Devon, Dorset and Somerset border. Operating as a standalone business, we will maintain Dartline’s strong focus on delivering for local communities, and we will invest in growing and adding services in mid and east Devon.”

Managing Director of Dartline Dave Hounslow added: “I reached the grand age of 70 this year and decided its time to hand the reins to a progressive company like Go Ahead. The brand will continue as Dartline and all the staff will be retained. Having started Dartline on 4 January 1987 with eight vehicles and building it to its size today, I feel proud that it will continue under the new management.”

Christian Schreyer, Group Chief Executive at the Go-Ahead Group, commented: “We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues at Dartline into the group. This acquisition underlines Go-Ahead’s commitment to expand in the regional bus market in the UK, as set out in our group strategy, ‘The Next Billion Journeys.’”

Go-Ahead is taking on the company’s fleet and staff of 118. RICHARD SHARMAN