Friday, 13 January 2012

First Reveals A Worrying North-South Divide

We may not quite be in economic recession, but these are still troubling times for many of Britain's bus operators.

First Group are the latest to broadcast their woes after they announced this week that they are to withdraw all their bus services in Bury St Edmunds from March this year.

The bus operator announced its intention to cease running all services in the town because they have not been 'commercially viable' for some time. The company points to a reduction in their Bus Service Operators Grant as one reason for their decision.

First's Bury St Edmunds depot will close at the end of March and staff will be offered alternative employment at First’s Ipswich depot.

Its problems in the south of England are nothing to the challenges the Aberdeen-based company says it is facing in Scotland and Northern England – where 60% of the company's non-London revenue comes from. This week, First Group blamed a weak economy and lower consumer spending in the north for what it says is growing evidence of a north-south divide.

As well as falling consumer spending, the company has also been hampered by poor market conditions which have made the sale of major assets such as bus depot sites much more difficult.

First will no doubt be cheered by the view across the Atlantic, though, where their American school bus business continues to show promise and where their Greyhound inter-city coach operation is continuing to show modest growth.

No comments:

Post a Comment