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Greyhound Buses to Take Turn as British 'Coaches'

America’s iconic Greyhound coaches will hit the road in the UK this September as owner FirstGroup looks to tap the brand’s North American success for the British market.

“We’ve had great success developing the network in North America, particularly in the Northeast of the USA, and we’ve decided that there is a market here, a similar market that is not being provided for,” Sir Moir Lockhead, CEO of FirstGroup, told CNBC.

FirstGroup bought the famous coach brand back in 2007 and plans to start hourly routes between London and Portsmouth and London and Southampton from Sept. 14. It hopes to add more routes in 2010.

Greyhound has the only countrywide network of buses in the USA and Canada and the name has become world famous over the last century, even appearing in various films and songs.

Lockhead is pitching the launch at young professional commuters and is offering “spacious leather seating, free wi-fi, power sockets, air-conditioning (and) complimentary newspapers.”

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AP

Lockhead also hopes that the coaches will provide an environmentally friendly alternative for drivers.

It remains to be seen whether Greyhound UK will be able to take market share from the competitors such as National Express, which already covers the same routes.

The UK version of the network will also use a sliding scale for prices with the first few seats going for £1, plus a 50p Internet booking charge. Latecomers may have to pay as much as £12 for a ticket, but the average fare will be around £7, Lockhead said.

“It’s relatively low. It’s not the cheapest in the market, but it offers behind that high quality,” he said.

Greyhound UK will keep the tradition of naming the coaches with women’s names from popular American songs such as ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Jolene’ and ‘Peggy Sue’.