Drivers' takeover of closing school bus firm "not feasible"

By Sam Cooper | 12/05/2017

Drivers' takeover of closing school bus firm 'not feasible'
Mick Strafford

A BUS company which transports thousands of children to and from school will close in July - despite a desperate takeover bid from its drivers.

Mick Strafford, managing director of BrightBus, announced he would be closing the company, which provides transport for eight of the borough’s schools, at the end of the summer term.

A group of its 90 staff launched a campaign to try and save the business but after meetings with senior management at the firm, a spokesman said a takeover “would not be feasible”.

A statement posted on the Save BrightBus Facebook page said: “It is with a heavy heart that I have to say this - after two days of meetings with the senior management of MAS Brightbus, it will be certainly closing in July.

“We put forward that we would like to take over the company as a co-operative and we have to say it would not be feasible for us to take over. 

“There are many reasons for this.”

The statement, understood to be from one of the drivers, said increasing fuel prices, a decline in passenger numbers and a lack of major investment meant a takeover was not possible.

It said: “It would be unreasonable for us to take over if we are going to be unable to keep it going more than a couple of years without major investment, which is something we would not be able to do.”

Following any takeover, the statement said, services would have to be severely cut back.

The statement ended: “We have failed in saving Brightbus. I apologise from the bottom of my heart. It is very sad that I bring this news to all.”

The company, which also goes under the name MAS Special Engineering Ltd, was formed in 1998 and has a fleet of 77 bright green buses.

Its fleet served more than 12,000 pupils a day at 30 schools across South Yorkshire, including Aston Academy, Wales High School, Brinsworth Academy and St Pius Catholic High School in Wath.

Mr Strafford said: “I think it’s a lovely idea and I am quite touched that they have gone to so much trouble but the reality is that the legal side of setting up a bus company from scratch is immense.

“To be honest it’s a mine field being a bus operator now. They would have needed to set up a new operator’s licence - you can’t transfer them - and that would mean having nearly £250,000 in funds you can use for repairs.”

Mr Strafford said talks with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and other operators were continuing.

“I am very optimistic that my staff are going to get jobs but trying to set up a replacement bus company would have been a massive job.”

Ben Gilligan, SYPTE director of pubic transport, said work was under way with schools and local authorities to minimise the impact of  the BrightBus announcement.

He said regular updates would be posted on SYPTE’s dedicated website at www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/brightbus.



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