The National Bus Company was formed on 1 January 1969 to take over the BET and THC groups, although in practice the BET group bus interests had been sold to the THC some months earlier. Thus Red & White, Western Welsh and Rhondda came under common ownership; and Jones was added in April 1969 when discord within the owning (Jones) family prompted the sale of the company to the NBC. Jones was placed under the control of Red & White at this stage, but there were few outward signs of the change at this time. The complex politics of the fares situation on the Ebbw Vale – Newport service, and the differing operating practices, meant that Jones retained its separate identity and blue livery until October 1980 – an unique situation for the NBC.
There was obviously scope for rationalisation of the operations of the various NBC operators in South Wales, and this took place in these early years. Western Welsh took over the Rhondda company at the beginning of 1971, and the Rhondda identity gradually disappeared. However, the fleetname was revived around 1975 for vehicles allocated to Porth depot. During 1971/72, the Western Welsh depots west of Bridgend were transferred to the neighbouring NBC companies South Wales Transport or Crosville, which meant that Western Welsh only operated in south east Wales! Red & White and Western Welsh were effectively merged in 1973/4, with the head office at the WW HQ in Cardiff. The companies retained their identities, although by this time the NBC corporate image had been introduced, so that the liveries were the same (except for Jones' blue based livery). As the senior engineering managers both came from Red & White, that company's unusual fleet numbering system was adopted for the whole of the combined group (WW/R&W/Jones).
Red & White/Jones
Vehcle policy had continued much 'as before' in the early NBC years. Red & White continued to buy more Bristol REs, most with ECW bodies, but some coaches had Plaxton bodies; and 17 RELH vehicles with dual purpose bodies came in 1971/2 - some with Gardner engines. These included separate luggage accomodation, so could be used on express coach services if necessary, but they were principally used on longer distance bus services. Jones' new vehicles in this period were similar, reflecting the policy of the parent company.
Western Welsh and Rhondda continued to purchase more underfloor engined Leyland Leopards, in bus, dual purpose and coach variants. The Tiger Cub was no longer available, so some of the Leopards were of the short PSU4 variety. 30 Bristol RELL6L vehicles were ordered, but only 5 ever ran for the company, as the rest were diverted to other operators before delivery (6 ECW bodied examples went to Red & White/Jones); and those 5 only stayed for about a year before being transferred to South Wales Transport. That was WW's only experience of rear underfloor engined single deckers prior to the Leyland Nationals. Some double deckers were also ordered, but a similar story can be told - 5 Leyland Atlanteans with lowheight Alexander bodies ran for WW for about a year before being transferred to Western National; while others that were ordered were diverted to other operators (apart from 9 highbridge Alexander bodied Atlanteans for Rhondda, which stayed). The reasons for these movements can only be speculated at; however, the Bus Grant scheme, which subsidised the cost of vehicles that were suitable for one-person-operation (OPO), had brought about an increase in demand for buses of this type. There were several local agreements at Western Welsh/Rhondda and Red & White/Jones depots, which restricted the potential for OPO, and there was no double deck OPO working at this time. One can therefore imagine that the NBC senior management considered that OPO-suitable double deckers could be more usefully employed at other companies where the working agreements were more flexible.