Monday, 9 January 2023

Warrington's Council Owned Buses Made a Loss of £330k Last Year

Warrington Borough Council's 'Warrington's Own Buses' has reported a pre-tax loss of £331,140 in its financial accounts, on a turnover of £11.7m. due to fewer passengers and rising costs for fuel, parts and staff.

It made a pre-tax profit of £64,055 in the previous year.

The company said it faced challenges from the pandemic, but would be in a "much stronger position" in the coming year.

The loss for the year to 31 March 2022 came despite a £2m increase in turnover compared with the previous year.

There had been a 42% fall in concessionary travel, but overall passenger trips only fell to 23% of pre-Covid levels, which the company said was "encouraging".

Prior to the pandemic, in the year ending 31 March 2019, the company reported a pre-tax profit of £169,639 on a turnover of £10.1m.

In the financial documents, the company said staff shortages in "many key areas" had impacted service levels and there had been uncertainty around funding for "non-viable" services.

In 2022, the council was granted funding under the government's Bus Back Better scheme which it said would make its services more frequent, reliable and cheaper to use.

It has also received funding under the government's Zero Emission Bus Regional Area scheme to bring in an all-electric bus fleet and work is also under way on a new bus depot in the town.

The firm's managing director Ben Wakerley said challenges included more people working from home and a rise in costs.

"Government funding, while very welcome, has not been sufficient to cover the costs of operation during this unprecedented period," he said.

Above and below, interior of 13 high-specification ADL Enviro200's
delivered to Warrington in 2018

He added that the company was "commercially sound" and "sustainable", and was "now embarking on what will be a transformational 2023, which will put us in a much stronger position for the future".

The firm is also one of more than 130 operators offering £2 capped bus fares until the end of March, but bus operators expect to face pressure later in the year, when government support for the sector ends.

Warrington Bus Website here. Focus posting about the forthcoming electric bus fleet here