Transport

Published: August 1, 2022 | Updated: August 2, 2022

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

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Staff at Yellow Buses are expected to know their fate by this Friday after the announcement that the company has been placed in administration.

As reported on Dorset Biz News, Simon Rowe and Rachel Hotham of Milsted Langdon LLP have been appointed as Administrators of Bournemouth Transport Limited, which trades as Yellow Buses.

In a statement, the accountancy firm said the bus operator – which marked its 120th anniversary in July – had, like many transport businesses, 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.”

The statement said the directors had been looking for a purchaser and negotiations with one of the parties, a large national operator, had entered the final stages.

Staff are expected to know the outcome of the discussions by this Friday, August 5.

It’s thought the potential purchaser is a British multinational public transport operator.

Yellow Buses was acquired in a management buyout from French transport group, RATP, in July 2019.

Dorset Biz News understands that two of the three directors involved – David Squire, Managing Director, and Philip Pannell, Service Delivery Director – have now left the business.

The third – Simon Newport, Commercial Director – is believed to be staying on in the interim as General Manager.

Janet Wall, Regional Officer of Unite Bournemouth, said the union had about 150 members at Yellow Buses.

She added: “I am working with the local reps and the administrator to ensure that there is a viable future for every Yellow Bus employee under the potential new ownership of an as yet undisclosed buyer.

“Apart from the loss of the three directors we do not foresee any redundancies in the near future.

“The failure of Yellow Buses has been precipitated by the government’s withdrawal of support for bus companies in England post pandemic and the huge increase in fuel costs.

“We are committed to ensuring that the name Yellow Buses has a future in Bournemouth.”

Janet, pictured left, who was a driver for Yellow Buses for 26 years – from 1988 to 2014 – described the decision to put the company into administration as “incredibly sad”.

But, she said: “To be honest it didn’t come as a big shock.

“For all the appeal of having a locally owned company, it just didn’t have the capital to weather major storms such as Covid.

“The bus subsidy kept them afloat but that’s been removed.

“Yellow Buses uses 70,000 litres of fuel a week and that has gone up by 79p a litre.

“You don’t need to do the maths to realise that the rise, together with a fall in passenger revenue, was going to cause real trouble.

“The company needs big investment from a big player.”

Yellow Buses is the south coast’s largest independent bus and coach operator.

The company made a pre-tax profit of £591,000 in the year to March 31, 2021, compared with a pre-tax loss of £2.656m in the previous 15 months.

According to Milsted Langdon, 300 staff are employed by Yellow Buses.

However Janet said she believed the figure was now likely to be in the region of 250 with particular difficulty in recruiting drivers, in common with other bus operators.