The number of municipal bus companies has been reduced by one following the sale of Swindon-based Thamesdown Transport to Go South Coast, part of the Go Ahead Group for an undisclosed sum. The sale was ratified at a closed council meeting on February 1st and Go Ahead took over operations from this morning (February 3rd).
The Go Ahead Group-owned firm operates a number of south coast bus and coach companies.
The council confirmed that Thamesdown Transport has incurred losses over the past five years due to difficult trading conditions, despite continued financial support from the Council.
A statement from Swindon Borough Council said: “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.
“Following a competitive process Go South Coast’s bid was assessed as offering the best value to the Council, which wholly owns the company. The offer from Go South Coast, the terms of which are commercially confidential, was for all the Council’s shares and the freehold of Thamesdown’s Barnfield depot.
Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “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”.
“This is an excellent opportunity for us to develop the services on offer to local people here in Swindon and north Wiltshire,” said Go South Coast managing director, Andrew Wickham.
“We’re keen to point out that it’s business as usual as far as our customers 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.
The firm has appointed Alex Chutter, currently operations manager at sister company Salisbury Reds, to take the reins at Thamesdown as General Manager. Former Thamesdown Transport Managing Director Paul Jenkins has left the business.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.