Southdown in the North Downs

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Southdown PSV, better known as just Southdown Buses, has been serving the North Downs for 17 years. Its Managing Director is Steve Wallis, who talks to Andy Izatt about how this finely-tuned business has been successfully developed in one of the toughest bus operating environments in the country

Despite its operating area falling largely within London’s green belt and firmly within one of the most vibrant, prosperous local economies in the country – one with particularly high levels of car ownership and use – Southdown PSV, based near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, has developed over 17 years into a significant, quality provider of local bus services. Managing the business over the past three of those years has been Steve Wallis.

Two ADL Enviro200 MMCs and an Enviro400 MMC line up ready for the Godstoneberry festival last summer. DOMINIC RYAN

“I’d always had an interest in transport and particularly wanted to be involved with buses,” recalled Steve. “I come from Burgess Hill and was 18 when I obtained my PCV licence with Metrobus at South Godstone, becoming one of its youngest drivers. That’s where I first met Peter Larking and Gary Wood who are now my co-directors at Southdown PSV. Peter and Gary had established Metrobus in 1983. After they sold the business to Go-Ahead in 1999, Peter set up Southdown PSV with Steve Swain in 2002, primarily to deal in vehicles, but there was also a small school bus operation. Gary joined them later in 2006 after they secured local service contracts from Surrey County Council for the 324 (Copthorne-Redhill), 409 (Croydon-East Grinstead), 410 (Westerham-Redhill) and 411 (Redhill- Chelsham Common). That took the operation up to 12 buses and I joined as operations controller. […]

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