FirstGroup to purchase

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Shockwaves were sent through the bus industry with the news that FirstGroup is to acquire Ensignbus. Richard Sharman visited the Purfleet depot on the day of the announcement to find out more and discuss some of the defining moments the company has had

FirstGroup announced early on 8 February that it had signed an agreement to purchase Ensign Bus Company. The unexpected move, which sent shockwaves through the industry, will see First Essex take control of Ensignbus’ commercial bus services, rail replacement, private hire contracts, and seasonal open-top bus service 68 in Southend-on-Sea. In addition, the dealership side of Ensignbus, which undertakes vehicles sales, conversions and refurbishments, will also move to FirstGroup ownership. The well-known Ensignbus heritage fleet is not included in the deal.

Some 200 employees will move to First Bus employment, and Ensignbus’ fleet of 55 buses will also be acquired by First Essex. Some of the vehicle types have not been operated by First Bus before, such as BCI Enterprises, open-top Ayats Bravo Citys and a unique Wrightbus Hong Kong demonstrator that recently returned from KMB in Hong Kong.


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