Benchmark International is delighted to announce the acquisition of Exeter-based Dealtop T/A Dartline Coaches by Newcastle upon Tyne-based Go-Ahead.
Beginning with eight vehicles in 1987, Dartline has grown its operations over its 25 years of trading and now possesses 84 vehicles, employs 118 people, and provides a comprehensive range of transport services. In addition to coaches and buses, Dartline runs special education needs taxis.
Established in 1987, Go-Ahead is one of the UK’s leading public transport companies with operations in the UK, Ireland, Singapore, Norway, and Germany. Formerly listed on the London Stock Exchange, in 2022 it was purchased by Kinetic Group and Globalvia.
In the West Country, Go-Ahead has grown rapidly. 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, Go South West will operate 380 vehicles and employ 90 people under four customer-facing brands: Dartline, Go Cornwall Bus, Go Devon Bus and Plymouth Citybus.
Speaking about the decision to sell, Dartline Managing Director, Dave Hounslow, said: “I reached the age of 70 this year and decided that it is time to hand the reins to a progressive company like Go-Ahead.
“The brand will continue as Dartline and all the staff will be maintained.
“Having started Dartline on 4 January 1987 with eight vehicles and building it into its size today, I feel proud that it will continue under the new management.”
Managing director of Go South West, Richard Stevens, said: “We have been admirers of Dartline for a long time. It is a family focused, well run bus company with a strong reputation and a competitive fleet. This acquisition will take us into wider Devon and it 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.”
Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive Christian Schreyer says that the purchase of Dartline “underlines Go-Ahead’s commitment to expand in the regional bus market in the UK.”