Transport

Published: August 4, 2022 | Updated: August 4, 2022

“Absolutely devastating” – up to 200 job losses as Yellow Buses run last service after 120 years

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Bournemouth’s iconic Yellow Buses has run its last service.

Just days after being placed in administration, a potential buyer for Bournemouth Transport Ltd, which trades as Yellow Buses, is only to acquire the coach and engineering operations.

Approximately 50 jobs will be saved.

It means the bus operation, which makes up the bulk of the company, ceased effect from 6pm last night.

Around 200 – of the 250 or so staff at Yellow Buses – will be made redundant, the majority drivers.

As first reported on Dorset Biz News, the buyer of the coach and engineering operations, is National Express Group.

The international public transport operator is best known in the UK for its coach operations.

It’s due to sign the agreement today, Friday.

National Express is also believed to be negotiating to take over the lease for the depot in Yeomans Way, Bournemouth.

A mass meeting involving all staff is to be held at a Bournemouth hotel today.

Fellow operator Morebus, owned by Go-Ahead, has stepped in and provided additional services following the demise of Yellow Buses.

Bournemouth Transport Ltd marked its 120th anniversary last month, just days before it was placed in administration.

The company had been acquired from previous owner RATP Group in a management buyout in 2019.

In a statement the administrators – accountancy firm Milsted Langdon – said Yellow Buses had suffered from the challenges of the Covid period and the resulting changes in lifestyle habits.

It added: “All of this has severely reduced passenger numbers on all routes.

“This loss of revenue has had a financial impact on the business and additional factors such as the recent increase in fuel prices and the general rise in inflation has only made that greater.”

Janet Wall, Regional Officer of Unite Bournemouth, said she was “absolutely devastated” at the end of bus operations, both on a personal and professional level.

Before taking up a full-time union position she worked at Yellow Buses as a driver for 26 years from 1988 to 2014.

Janet, pictured left, said: “This is an iconic part of Bournemouth and it’s now gone.

“It feels like losing a family member.

“A lot of my friends and colleagues work there, as did many generations of the same family.

“I feel absolutely devastated.”

Janet said Unite would be taking a class action on behalf of its members as the minimum 45-day consultation period stipulated when an employer makes 100+ job losses had not been followed.

She described the outcome of the action as an “open and shut case” which would result in an extra eight weeks’ pay for her members.

Simon Rowe, Joint Administrator, pictured right, said: “Whilst we are delighted that the proposed deal will save a significant number of jobs, it is hugely disappointing that we weren’t able to secure the remainder of the business and the jobs attached to it.

“We have informed the staff of the position and I would like to thank all of them for their patience and understanding over the last few difficult days.

“I would also like to thank the other stakeholders who have offered and given their support, in particular BCP [Council] and Unite, both of whom took an active interest and tried to help us present a vision of a sustainable future for Yellow Buses.

“Unfortunately, in the end, the financial challenges which the company faced during its trading life meant that every buyer we spoke to felt that the prospects were not commercially viable.

“The closure of Yellow Buses leaves a gap in the public transport network for the residents and visitors to Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and we are working with BCP [Council] and Morebus to try and minimise the disruption this will inevitably cause.”

In a statement, National Express said: “We can confirm that we are in final discussions with joint administrators, Simon Rowe and Rachel Hotham of Milsted Langdon to purchase the coach and engineering operations of Bournemouth Transport. We will not be purchasing the bus business (Yellow Buses).

“We are pleased that this will safeguard approximately 50 jobs and maintain the operations previously run by Bournemouth Transport Ltd on behalf of National Express – ensuring we can continue to offer a full network of scheduled intercity coach services to our Bournemouth customers.

“We will be speaking with those employees who are proposed to transfer over to National Express alongside a number of other stakeholders, including the Union. We are keen to speak to any other drivers to share opportunities with us in both the South and Midlands.

“Bournemouth Transport has a long history in the area and it’s sad news that a buyer was not found for the bus operations.”

+++

Sad end of a 120-year-old company which had survived two world wars and countless recessions and downturns:

Morebus step in to provide additional services after demise of fellow operator Yellow Buses

“Absolutely devastating” – Up to 200 job losses as Yellows’ bus operation fails to attract buyer

“Incredibly sad” but no real shock says union as Yellow Buses’ staff wait to hear their fate

Covid challenges blamed as Yellow Buses goes into administration on its 120th anniversary