Scottish Motor Traction (SMT) was founded in Edinburgh in 1905. It operated buses in much of central Scotland. Aside from its traditional bus operations, it operated an air taxi service with a De Havilland Fox Moth between July 18 and October 31, 1932 and for many years owned Dryburgh Abbey Hotel. Following legislation, which allowed railway companies to invest in bus operators, the LNER and LMSR took a major stake in SMT in 1929. In 1930, following the takeover of another operator, SMT started its Edinburgh to London express coach service. All of its bus and coach operations were nationalised by the Attlee government in 1949, and the company legal name then became Scottish Omnibuses Ltd.
SMT grew partly through the acquisition of smaller companies. Operations were decentralised to local areas, such as Central SMT in Lanarkshire (with red buses) and Western SMT (in south-west Scotland), whilst the east of Scotland services remained as SMT until the early 1960s, when the fleet name "Eastern Scottish" was adopted (operating green buses).
Following the demise of the British Transport Commission, the SMT operations became part of the state-owned Scottish Bus Group in 1962; this later became the Scottish Transport Group in 1969 following the addition of ferry services.
The Transport Act 1985 led to the deregulation of bus services across the UK, followed by privatisation of the bus-operating Scottish Transport Group subsidiaries. Western Scottish (formerly Western SMT) was sold to its local management in 1991, and was bought out by the Stagecoach Group in 1994, which renamed it Stagecoach West Scotland. The ferry services, run as Caledonian MacBrayne remain owned by the Scottish Government.
Following privatisation, Eastern Scottish briefly reverted to its former name SMT. It was bought out by the First Group, who rebranded it First Edinburgh, and introduced the First Group corporate pink, purple and white livery to replace the former green.
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