RATP Dev UK is to rename its Epsom Coaches business to Quality Line, previously the trading name of the bus division of Epsom Coaches. From 25 June 2017, it will be brought under direct management of RATP Dev London. With this change, all of RATP Dev UK’s London bus operations (through its three subsidiaries London United, London Sovereign and Quality Line) will be run by RATP Dev London’s leadership team.
Under the new structure, Quality Line’s existing TfL routes will continue to run from the Epsom depot, but RATP Dev will have a single interface with TfL to cover contract and account management, tendering and business development and will also deploy best practice across all ten of its London bus garages.
The Epsom operation is also to withdraw from the private hire, holiday and day trip markets from the end of June 2017. MD of Epsom Coaches, Steve Whiteway, is to retire once these operations cease after 37 years in the business. The Epsom depot will continue to run TfL and local bus services together with its regular contracts, which include Epsom & St Helier NHS and Atkins amongst others, as well as National Express services.
Commenting on why the move was made, Steve said the holidays and excursions side of the business is very ‘capital intensive’. This side of the operation had experienced the best two years it has ever had, but ‘it only works if you have the buses too’. Steve also mentioned there had been a lot of retirements and a lack of drivers who are prepared to take on the coaching work. He said, ‘We would rather go out on a high than wither on the vine. You either do it properly or not at all.’
Steve continued, ‘I will be retiring from the company at the end of June, although I am still aiming to remain active in the business by offering my experience to anyone who can use me. I have always tried to ensure that Epsom Coaches is very much part of the community it has served since 1920, actively supporting so many events, both in cash and kind over the years, which I will certainly miss as I know will my staff, most of whom will retain a role within the new company structure. Our support for our industry is also long term and sustained and I hope to remain involved.’
CEO of RATP Dev UK, Tim Jackson, said, ‘In an increasingly competitive market, I’m confident that the closer integration of Quality Line into the RATP Dev London operation will enhance the company’s competitiveness and create opportunity to develop it further. That should be good for its passengers, employees and local stakeholders. I would like to thank Steve Whiteway, MD of Epsom Coaches, who is retiring in June after 37 years of service. Steve’s dedication and leadership over the years has been the foundation for this successful business.’