Douglas Adie, former London Central and Oxford Bus Company MD


Douglas Adie, one of the senior managers recruited from outside London Transport in 1988 to run some of its 11 new commercial bus companies and later managing director of Go-Ahead’s Oxford Bus Company, died on 7 June aged 76.

He had spent 15 years with the National Bus Company and BETowned United Transport before being appointed MD at London Central, running 34 services from three garages in south-east London; it took over a fourth garage, Bexleyheath in the south-eastern suburbs, from Selkent in 1991.

Adie led a management employee buyout bid to acquire London Central when the red bus companies were privatised in 1994, but it lost out to Go-Ahead Group, whose leading directors Martin Ballinger and Chris Moyes were friends and former NBC colleagues who kept all the management team in place. He joined the Go-Ahead main board after the group acquired London General in 1996 and amalgamated the London companies’ management.

He preferred to be out running buses, so transferred to the Oxford Bus Company as MD in 1997. In later life he said this was his favourite job. He and his wife Jane and family had lived in Sutton Courtenay near Oxford since 1983, commuting either daily or weekly. He said it was the first time he had had a decent commute. Aged 60, he retired in 2001, but was as a director of Rosco, the Road Operators Safety Council, from then until 2007.

Remembered with great affection by those worked with or were employed by him, Douglas Jamieson Adie was born on 24 September 1941 and was brought up by his grandmother in Edinburgh, where he attended George Watsons College from 1954 to 1959, and spent holidays with his family in Shetland.

After training and qualifying as a chartered accountant and working for Formica across Europe, he joined Midland Red in 1973 as company secretary. When he took up the appointment, he had thought buses were all about logistics, diesel, metal, garages and route planning. He found they were actually all about people, employing people, negotiating with trades unions, dealing with councils and government, and were part of the community. This ignited a five decades long love affair with the industry.

He moved within NBC to Alder Valley as director and general manager in 1980, with a brief to rescue this loss-making company. He presided over the huge changes wrought by the Market Analysis Project conversions and the ensuing redundancies and was rewarded by being promoted to regional executive in Droitwich in 1984 and was a portfolio chairman in NBC’s final years.

After NBC, with his former NBC colleagues John Hargreaves, John Bodger and John Salmon he helped to start United Transport’s companies running deregulated minibuses in Manchester (Bee Line Buzz) and Preston (Zippy!).