Financial concerns lead another Welsh operator to shut down

 

lewis_coachesLewis Coaches of Llanrhystud, south of Aberystwyth, had operated for more than 35 years

 

Ceredigion-based Lewis Coaches ceased to trade on Friday last week, becoming the third bus operator in Wales to close this summer.

Lewis Coaches of Llanrhystud, south of Aberystwyth, had operated for more than 35 years and employed approximately 40 people. Since October 2015 it had run on a commercial basis the 701 daily scheduled coach service between Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff, a long-standing route which was established by Crosville Cymru before deregulation.

Lewis Coaches also operated tendered buses for Ceredigion County Council and a single vehicle to cover several routes in the rural Bwcabus system, managed by Carmarthenshire County Council. The Bwcabus vehicle and routes have now transferred to Richards Brothers.

Shortly before the closure, Paul Hodges, Lewis Coaches’ transport manager, said the company had financial problems. He said: “I can’t see a way out of it. Before it gets any worse [we will] call it a day. We should be able to pay the bills.”

Reduced funding for bus services from the Welsh Government had contributed to the financial difficulties, as had “cut throat” competition in the bus industry. “We’ve had bad luck with coaches breaking down,” Hodges added.

Pembrokeshire operator Silcox Coaches went into administration in June. Last month, Wrexham-based GHA Coaches, a large operator, went into receivership, forcing local authorities in Wales and England to find emergency replacement operators for school and public transport (PT139).

The Welsh Government has declined to commit to providing additional funding for bus services in response to the spate of closures. A spokesman said: “Despite very challenging funding settlements, our funding to local authorities under the Bus Services Support Grant, to help them to subsidise bus and community transport services, has been maintained at £25m since 2013-14. A number of local authorities have cut their own budgets for service subsidy during the same period.”

Regarding the latest closure, the spokesman said that Ceredigion Council was “very well placed to ensure that the vast majority of services are maintained”.

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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