When Brian Souter took Stagecoach Holdings to the stock market last year his City advisers warned him that it would be the most stressful time of his life. His response was curt: 'I told them that anyone like me who'd done time on the Glasgow buses knew everything there was to know about stress, thank you very much.' That period - working as both a conductor and driver - obviously stood him in good stead. Today, 18 months after its float, Stagecoach is buying up its rivals north and south of the border and has just reported profits up 46%. Its market value, meanwhile, has soared from £100 million on flotation to nearly £300 million, valuing the 49% stake held by Souter and his sister, Ann Gloag, at £145 million.
Souter, of course, is not alone in his rise from bottom deck to boardroom. At rival Badgerline, commercial director Keith Ahlers began his career as a conductor with the National Bus Company. Though not yet in the Souter class in terms of wealth, Ahlers' shares are currently worth over £5.5 million - and, with Badgerline more than doubling its profits since coming to the stock market a year ago, look set to go much higher. With more bus operators gearing up for flotation in the not-too-distant future, the ranks of clippie-millionaires will doubtless grow.