Financial problems cause Halton Transport closure

Halton Borough Transport ceased trading as of midnight on 24 January.

It has entered liquidation following a long period of financial problems. According to its full accounts published on Companies House for the period to 31 March 2019, Halton Borough Transport made a loss of £619,695, compared to the loss made in the same period in 2018 of £361,822.

Halton Transport was owned by the Council, which operated it as an ‘arm’s length’ company. This has been the arrangement since 1986, when the law was introduced meaning councils could not directly run bus companies. Since then, Halton Transport has been required to operate on a commercial basis.

A statement on the Council’s website said: “As the major shareholder, the Council has, in recent months, been supporting the company in an attempt to place it on a stronger, more sustainable footing – unfortunately that has not been possible.”

In its full accounts for the period to 31 March 2019, it was reported that the decrease in Halton Transport’s profit margin was due to cost increases, including rising insurance and a decline in passenger revenue.

The introduction of a multi-journey, multi-operator ticketing scheme by the region’s transport body, Merseytravel, had an adverse effect on the operation. The report says insurance costs went up due to a large number of incidents the operation was involved in.

Also having an affect is the delay in an infrastructure project in Halton, which was said to have had a £100,000 impact on operating loss per annum. Growth in the commercial market was deemed restrictive and the reduction in concessionary travel reimbursement levels due to eligible passenger numbers decreasing was also blamed.

Warrington’s Own Buses and Arriva have stepped in to operate Halton Transport routes. A number of Halton Transport employees have already secured jobs with other bus providers.

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