McGill’s Director calls for Government to ‘get over’ rail as profits fall

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McGill’s claims that bus services are in decline for a number of reasons outside of the control of operators. DONALD STEWART

McGill’s has released consolidated financial statements for the year ended January 1, 2017.

The company’s turnover increased to £39.5m, a £1.2m increase on the previous year. However, operating profits were down, decreasing from £4.27m in 2015 to £2.89m in 2016. Profit before tax stood at £2.03m, down from £3.48m in 2015.

Ralph Roberts, Director of McGill’s, commented: “2016 has been a challenging year for the bus industry, not only in Scotland, but UK-wide. Ultra-cheap car ownership, depressed fuel prices, online retailing, increasing congestion resulting in longer bus journeys and stretched household budgets have all contributed to a sustained decline in footfall.

“McGill’s invested heavily this year in state-of-the-art ticketing equipment, new vehicles and a central control facility, all of which have allowed us to make ticketing more convenient and give a much more punctual and reliable service to our customers. As well as this investment, we have coped with an increased cost base from congestion, roadworks, staff wages, regulatory costs and a 20% increase in the cost of new buses.

“Government and politicians have to get over their fascination with the train. Over 80% of public transport journeys are made on buses. Trains carry relatively few in comparison to buses, yet seem to take all of the headlines, political attention and public purse investment.

“Bus companies have limited ability to reverse the current footfall decline, as almost all of the factors driving it are external. Local authorities and national government need to accept their role in road space management and that the cost of private motoring falls upon the motorist, not the economy in general. The bus is part of the solution, not the enemy.”