UPDATED: London route strife for HCT
Community Interest Company is divesting itself of TfL contracts to Stagecoach to claw back losses, it says. Bristol Community Transport’s bus routes are also under threat, says the West of England Metro Mayor
Troubled HCT Group is in advanced talks with Stagecoach to divest itself of its TfL contracts – believed to be 11 in total.
This comes after the announcement this week that it is to cease operation community buses in Bristol, and having already seen the financial failure of its Yorkshire operations, CT Plus and Powells Buses. “This decision follows a period where we have faced multiple challenges – a period of difficult trading prior to the pandemic, the financial impact of the pandemic itself, followed immediately by the current surge in fuel prices and the cost of labour,” says a letter to staff from Operations & Engineering Director, Mark Owen.
“We have come to the decision that the best way to protect the jobs of our frontline staff in London is to sell this business to another operator. Talks with Stagecoach have not yet concluded but are at an advanced stage.”
HCT Group, a Community Interest Company, was formed from Hackney Community Transport, which originally ran services using Section 19 permits and was hailed as a counterpoint to commercial bus services, feeding its profits into a charity. In the last four years it has been beset with problems. It lost all of its financial data claiming it had been hit with a ‘cyberattack’ and has reported heavy losses for two years. It is late filing last year’s accounts to Companies House.
Following the announcement of the end of Bristol Community Transport’s CT services, West of England Metro Mayor, Dan Norris, has revealed that it is also ending its bus services. In response to a BCB question, he said: “On Friday, the buses run by Bristol Community Transport are scheduled to run as normal, but there are big question marks over their future. But sadly, their minibus and dial a ride services will stop.
“HCT, the owner of Bristol Community Transport, is in trouble nationwide and has also recently pulled out of running bus services in Yorkshire and is selling off their London operations.”
He continued: “When the West of England Combined Authority became aware of the problematic situation it urgently contacted other bus companies to see if they would take over the running of both the buses and the community transport. Progress is being made on the main bus routes, including the flagship M1 and we are hopeful that some of the other services will be taken over by other providers too to provide continuity.
“There is also some limited interest from community transport providers to take over those services going forward but sadly not immediately.”