HCT scales back in Bristol and sells London ops

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Following the closure of its Yorkshire operations, HCT Group-owned Bristol Community Transport ceased its community transport operations on Friday 26 August with a statement saying: “We will no longer be in a position to deliver our community transport services in Bristol – including Dial-a-Ride and minibuses for groups.”

“It’s a sad day for all of us at HCT Group,” said Lynn McClelland, HCT Group Chief Executive. “We understand just how important these services are for the people that use them and it is the last thing we wanted to do. The move follows a period where we have been rocked by multiple challenges – a period of difficult trading prior to the pandemic, the financial impact of the pandemic itself, followed immediately by the current surge in fuel prices and the cost-of-living crisis. This has led to a position where continued delivery of these services is unsustainable.

“We have tried to the very last minute to find an alternative operator for these services, but sadly we have been unsuccessful, which means these services will now come to an end.”

In addition, HCT Group has confirmed that it is in advanced discussions with another operator about the potential sale of Metrobus M1 route in Bristol, which is operated under contract from First West of England. HCT Group continued in an updated statement: “We are also in discussions with other local authorities in the area about finding operators to take on Bristol Community Transport’s other routes in and around the city.

“While discussions are ongoing, HCT Group is committed to continuing to keep its employees updated and we will provide any further update as appropriate, but there is no certainty that at this stage these discussions will lead to a sale or transfer. In the meantime, our bus routes continue as normal – our M1 and other local bus routes will not cease on Friday 26 August.”

In London, it was confirmed that HCT Group has sold its ‘red bus’ operations to Stagecoach, which operate from depots at Ash Grove and Walthamstow Avenue.

The news follows Stagecoach’s acquisition of Kelsian Group’s Lea Interchange business in June and will bring a further expansion of its London bus operation.

Almost 500 people and 160 buses have transferred to Stagecoach’s London business. The two depots operate 17 routes on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) in the north, east and centre of the capital.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive Stagecoach, said: “We’re very pleased to be expanding our London bus operations even further and we look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to Stagecoach.

“Stagecoach has a positive track record of operating high quality bus services in London on behalf of TfL. The 17 new routes we will be operating from Ash Grove and Walthamstow Avenue depots will complement our existing operations and allow us to build even further on our successful London operations whilst continuing to support the Mayor’s drive for a net zero transport system for the capital.”

Some 500 staff have transferred to Stagecoach London along with the 17 HCT routes. STAGECOACH LONDON