South Wales experienced its own distinct effect of the tidal wave of change that engulfed much of the British bus industry in the 1990s. Here, the victor of the first years of deregulation was well and truly vanquished. National Welsh, acquired by its managers from the National Bus Company (NBC) in May 1987 had gone on to acquire two of the seven arms-length municipal companies, Taff Ely in Pontypridd and Rhymney Valley Council’s Inter Valley Link, by 1989 when a third, Merthyr Tydfil Transport, ceased trading.

However, it was National Welsh that became the industry’s first major failure. The over-stretched business was in trouble by 1991, when it bought time by selling the eastern part of its business to Western Travel, the management buyout of NBC’s Cheltenham & Gloucester subsidiary, which revived the Red & White Services name for it. The rest of the company had gone by the end of 1992, selling the best parts to the new consortium that traded as Rhondda Buses, while the rest was closed, allowing other major operators to fill the void.

For a time, it looked like National Welsh’s problems also would be an opportunity for the arms-length Cynon Valley Transport municipal company in Aberdare to expand, as it set up a sister company to acquire some operations from Rhondda Buses, but the venture was short-lived and Red & White acquired the entire Cynon Valley operation before the turbulent 1992 was out.

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