NatEx to run school services of defunct CTO

Birmingham City Council has handed ‘the majority’ of its home-to-school transport services left high and dry by the collapse of the Accessible Transport Group (ATG) to a subsidiary of National Express.

Starting in September, the services will be provided by West Midlands Accessible Transport Ltd, a subsidiary of National Express which, it is believed, will continue running in the interim with Section 19/22 permits. Asked if it would O-licence the services, National Express issued a statement: ‘We are working with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner in Leeds on short-term transition arrangements to ensure the continuity of these vital services.’

The contract agreed by Birmingham City Council Cabinet was awarded because previous provider ATG went into administration in March. It had 15 O licences and at least 550 Section 19 permits issued by the Community Transport Association. It had 700 employees, and ran, among other services, the 80-vehicle bus service ‘IGo.’ ATG also operated the door-to-door Ring and Ride service which has 12,557 registered users across the region.

ATG’s board noted, in the 2016/17 accounts, that its greatest risk was loss of a three-year funding arrangement for the Ring and Ride, which was dependent on growing patronage. West Midlands Combined Authority funded ATG to the tune of £7.5m. Its income also included £10.5m from contracts.

Councillor Kate Booth, cabinet member for children’s wellbeing, said: “I’m so pleased that National Express has come on board with us to provide this vital service. Of the 6,000 children the entire home-to-school service supports, 4,250 are transported using taxis and minibuses, with some of the 600 transport routes having a guided service.”

David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said: “I’m very happy to be welcoming ATG employees into the National Express family of businesses. We are fully committed to this company – we’ll be investing in the service, including innovative technology for safer journeys, and most importantly, in the people.

“As a proud Living Wage Foundation-accredited employer, we will of course be paying all our new staff the real Living Wage. National Express also already runs many similar services to ATG in America – we will combine this expertise with our deep local knowledge.

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