Monday 29 August 2022

HCT To Sell London Bus Operations to Stagecoach

HCT Group is a social enterprise operation and is a registered charity. The company has agreed the sale of its London bus business to Stagecoach following significant financial difficulties resulting in the recent closure of Powells, the Group’s business in South Yorkshire, and CT Plus in West Yorkshire. The London operations involves around 160 vehicles from two depots.

HCT was originally founded in 1982 as Hackney Community Transport in the London Borough of Hackney to provide transport services for local voluntary organisations, charities, and community groups. HCT Group is registered as a company limited by guarantee (and has therefore no shareholders). The company is also a registered charity.

In a notice to staff, Operations and Engineering Director Mark Owen says that sale of the Transport for London contracted work to another operator is “the best way to protect the jobs of our front-line staff.” Now the deal with Stagecoach has been agreed further details will be announced shortly.

The memo notes that HCT Group suffered difficult trading conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic, which have since been followed by the impact of that period and increased fuel and labour costs.

“We believe that our red bus team will continue to prosper under Stagecoach’s potential ownership and we would like to thank all our team for their commitment and hard work,” Mr Owen continues, adding that staff will now be advised further following confirmation of the sale. HCT began running buses in London in 2001.

Identical reasons to those cited by Mr Owen were given when the Group took the short-notice decision to close its Yorkshire operations earlier in August.

Stagecoach has said ” The purchase will represent further growth in London for Stagecoach, which took over the former Tower Transit Lea Interchange operation in late June".

Meanwhile, as discussions with Stagecoach came to light, speculation about the future of HCT subsidiary Bristol Community Transport (BCT) arose after that organisation said it would no longer deliver group transport services, include dial-a-ride, after 26 August.

HCT Group has also announced that its minibus service 812 in London will cease operation after 26 August. Islington Council provides funding for that route and HCT says the local authority “will review how it can best help and support users now and in the future.”

Read the latest article on HCT and its problems by Roger French here