Councils bail out 600-vehicle community bus operator
TfWM and Birmingham City Council to fund Accessible Transport Group, which goes into administration
Administrators of Accessible Transport Group Limited, Ring and Ride West Midlands Limited and ATG Contract Services Limited, have secured new funding for the 600-vehicle community bus charities.
The huge West Midlands community transport operator was placed in administration last week, causing turmoil to bus services including the 80-vehicle igo – with some routes placed with other operators.
Duff & Phelps’ Matt Ingram, Joint Administrator, said: “We can now confirm that we have agreed funding from Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands that will ensure that there is no interruption to the day-to-day services that the Charities provide.
“This is great news for those who rely on these accessible transport services here in the West Midlands. The call centre remains fully operational and therefore we would urge them to continue to contact their service provider in the normal way,” he added.
The holding company, which has between its subsidiaries around 600 Section 19/22 permits and 15 O licences, and has more than 700 employees, is being operated by administrators Duff and Phelps with the aim of maintaining services. Some of its igo bus services – which involved operation on Section 22 permits – have been placed with Diamond Bus, Banga Bus and Johnsons.
ATG started life as West Midlands Special Needs Transport Ltd in 1988, became wmsnt Holdings in 2013 and ATG in 2016. Its subsidiaries, Ring and Ride West Midlands and ATG Contract Services are charities. ATG CS runs tendered SEN contracts and bus services for local authorities including TfWM, and the igo services.
The reasons for the insolvency are unclear. In the last filed accounts, ATG Ltd in 2017 said it faced a reducing grant from West Midlands Combined Authority, from £7.8m to £7.5m in 2017. In 2017/18 the grant dropped to £7.3m. ATG reported it had 14,700 registered users – which helps it utilise S19 permits for services. It said it operated 0.85 million journeys and 3.1 million miles.
In the 2016/17 accounts, the board said: ‘The greatest immediate risk facing [ATG] is that the three-year funding arrangement for Ring and Ride is dependent on the growth in patronage and is subject to the annual budget approval process…’ In 2016/17 it had £22.3m income but £22.5m costs, though reserves amounted to £6.1m. Income came from the WMCA grant of £7.8m, £1.5m concessionary fares, £0.5m BSOG, £1.5m farebox and £10.5m income from contracts.