UPDATED 07/02/17: Thamesdown Transport taken over after councillors agreed to sell the Council’s shares in the company.
Go South Coast (GSC) completed the acquisition of Thamesdown Transport on Friday (February 3).
The Go-Ahead Group-owned firm – which operates a number of south coast bus and coach companies – takes control of Thamesdown following Swindon Borough Council’s recent decision to sell. It reduces the number of arm’s length municipal operators to 10 – the others being: Cardiff, Newport, Ipswich, Rossendale, Halton, Warrington, Lothian, Blackpool, Reading and Nottingham.
Swindon Borough Council members met last Wednesday (February 1) to discuss the offer. The bus company has incurred losses over the past five years due to difficult trading conditions, despite continued financial support from the council.
And with the council also facing challenging financial pressures of its own, a review of the bus company concluded that the sale of Thamesdown Transport to an established operator would be in the best interest of council taxpayers, Thamesdown’s staff and its customers.
When CBW contacted Swindon Borough Council to confirm the exact amount the business and depot were sold for, the authority said it was unable to confirm any figures at this time as the terms are “commercially confidential.”
In a statement, Councillor David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council commented: “We were one of the few local authorities in the country to still own a local bus company, but the council is operating in a really challenging financial climate at the moment and we do not have the resources to continue to support Thamesdown Transport as we have been doing in recent years.
“We have had to change the way we provide services across the council while balancing the ever increasing demand on adults’ and children’s services.
“We believe this deal is in the best interests of local bus users as it secures the financial sustainability of the bus company, offers the best long-term security for Thamesdown Transport’s employees, and will provide vital investment. Go South Coast’s expertise will also ensure customers continue to benefit from a high quality bus service.
“The council will arrange a joint meeting with Go South Coast and bus user groups in the coming weeks so passengers have the opportunity to learn about future investment plans and raise any issues or concerns that they may have.”
GSC has appointed Alex Chutter, currently Operations Manager at sister company Salisbury Reds, to take the reins at Thamesdown as General Manager.
Commenting on the acquisition, GSC Managing Director, Andrew Wickham said: “This is an excellent opportunity for us to develop the services on offer to local people here in Swindon and north Wiltshire.
“We’re keen to point out that it’s business as usual as far as our passengers are concerned. Any tickets or passes they have will still be valid, and our 85 buses will continue to serve existing routes with no change to timings.
“That said, our ultimate aim is to enhance the services on offer here. As part of this, we will be consulting with local people and listening to the needs of those who travel on our buses. Our team will be engaging with representatives of local bus users about our plans to invest in local services.
“We are excited to be providing vital sustainable transport in this region, and I have no doubt our talented team will make a complete success of our new venture.
“I look forward to meeting with our local customers and hearing their views over the coming weeks and months.”