First Manchester sells Queens Road depot to Go-Ahead

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First Bus has announced the intended sale of its Queens Road bus depot – and associated operations – to Go-Ahead Group for £11.17m.

The proposals would see ownership of the Queens Road, Manchester site and the 163 vehicles based there transfer to Go-Ahead ownership – the first time Go-Ahead has operated in the city.

The sale is expected to be completed in the next few months, with First employees transferring to Go-Ahead.

Buses will continue to operate as normal under First until the sale is completed.

First Manchester’s other two depots – Oldham and Bolton – will continue unaffected.

Go-Ahead says it will invest in the ‘people, vehicles and systems’ to improve local bus services in the area, and confirmed that the depot will operate as Go North West.

Discussing the news, Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said: “I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers in Greater Manchester.

“Today’s announcement does not reflect on the effort, commitment or individual performance of our Queens Road employees and we will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer.

“Over the years we have enjoyed a constructive relationship with both the Go-Ahead Group and Transport for Greater Manchester and look forward to working closely with them to ensure this transfer goes ahead as smoothly as possible with minimal impact for our customers.

“We continue to support the OneBus partnership in the city region and believe that a positive partnership between the Mayor, Local Authorities, businesses, the community and OneBus can help tackle the increasing impact of congestion and deliver a package of improvements which puts customers first and offers good value for both passengers and public investment.”

David Brown, Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, said: “We look forward to contributing to Manchester’s community and transport. Buses are an essential public service that help passengers get to work, access education and healthcare, for leisure and visits to relatives. We aim to deliver a comfortable, reliable service while investing to improve air quality.

“As a business that prides itself on looking after our colleagues, we hope to reinvigorate the Queen’s Road depot. We also look forward to engaging in open conversations with TfGM, stakeholders and customers in the Manchester area to better understand how we can create a sustainable and thriving service.”

As for whether Go-Ahead intends to join the OneBus consortium, a Go-Ahead spokesperson told CBW: “We will start engaging with Onebus to understand their aspirations and the role we will play in the alliance.

“We are a strong supporter of operators working together with transport authorities to improve bus services for customers. We are committed to joining Greater Manchester Travelcards Limited (GMTL) which provides multi-operator, multi-modal ticketing solutions across the conurbation.”