Buses fare poorly in tough conditions
5:30am Tuesday 4th February 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
TOUGH trading conditions are being blamed for a poor financial year at Thamesdown Transport, meaning payments cannot be given to Swindon Council, which owns the bus company.
They were scheduled to pay the council £350,000, of which £100,000 had been carried over from a previous year, but now have said they can offer nothing.
A number of factors are being given for the lack of funds ranging from a cut in grants to a reduction in the number of bus users.
Paul Jenkins, managing director of Thamesdown, pictured above, said: “I can confirm that our owners, Swindon Council, have reduced the amount of income they expect to receive from us for the 2014/15 financial year in recognition of our difficult trading conditions.
“Decisions regarding income from us for 2015 onwards will be made by the council nearer the time.”
Thamesdown Transport is an ‘arms-length’ company, which means that while it is owned by the council, it has no say in its operation.
With money already tight within the council the shortage of money has come as a blow. However, the councillor responsible for transport has said that it is more important that the town has a fully functional bus service.
Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), cabinet member for leisure and transport said: “This has obviously come as a bit of blow as it is money we had factored into our cash flow but as we own the company we want them to succeed.
“Whilst we would prefer they could make the payment, I would much rather the town had a high quality bus company operating with a reasonable level of liquidity.
“Those running Thamesdown Transport have many years of experience in running bus companies so I am sure they will know how to move the company forward.”
Earlier this year, a number of key routes were altered leaving some residents unhappy but Coun Williams said no further major changes are planned.
He said: “Following on from the changes everyone is now looking for some stability. We know there have been some changes but there is nothing new planned.
“What is important to note is that the buses are a very good indicator of the economic conditions. Shortly before the economic downturn the number of users began to drop.
“Now with the conditions in the economy picking up hopefully we should see things improving on the buses.”
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