Go-ahead is one of the major players to have emerged from the privatization of the National Bus Company by the 1979-97 Conservative Government. It can trace its roots to the sale of Northern General to its management team in 1987.
The group expanded in 1993 with the purchase of City of Oxford and Brighton & Hove from the management teams that had acquired them from state control. Floated on the stock exchange in 1994 further expansion saw the Group become a major player in London - it now owns London Central, London General and Metrobus.
Rail privatisation saw Go-Ahead awarded franchises to operate the Thames Trains and Thameslink franchises, the latter in a joint venture with French operator Via-GTI.
Although the original franchises have now been lost (that of Thames Trains due to a redrawing of the franchise map) the rail operation has expanded to include South Eastern, Southern and London Midland.
The bus operations have seen steady growth with the acquisition of Wilts & Dorset in 2003 followed by Southern Vectis (and the associated Solent Blue Line fleet) in October 2006. These operations are now under common management and form Go South Coast. In December 2005 West Midlands based Diamond Bus was acquired although the hoped for expansion in the West Midlands did not materialise and the business was subsequently sold.
Late 2009 saw local authority owned Plymouth CityBus join the Group's portfolio.
At the time of writing there is also the possibility of Go-Ahead taking an interest in Ipswich Buses, another local authority owned fleet.
This book chronicles Go-Ahead's involvement in the bus industry from 1987 onwards and also includes its entry into the rail industry in the 1990s.