“We’re having cashflow problems”

 

 
One family-owned bus and coach company has put its staff on 30 hours’ maximum working per week, instead of the usual 45 hours, as a result of reduced demand. Its coaching business saw about £20,000 of work cancelled in less than a week, before Monday’s government advice that the public should avoid non-essential travel and stay away from places such as pubs and theatres.

Revenue from the operator’s tendered and commercial services reduced by about 9% last week. One tendered service which normally carried about 120 concessionary pass holders and about 30 fare-payers on a Saturday carried just 23 pass holders and no farepayers last Saturday. The operator takes the revenue risk on its tendered services.

The company leases its vehicles and has asked for flexibility on payments. “This is something that doesn’t happen annually or even every 10 years, it’s once in a blue moon, and you wouldn’t build it into a hire purchase contract,” said the managing director.

We will be contacting our funding partners to ask them about what kind of relaxation we can have on repayments on vehicles etc. If they say there’s no relaxation, all we can do is say: ‘You had better come and get the buses then

“We’re having cashflow problems. We will be contacting our funding partners to ask them about what kind of relaxation we can have on repayments on vehicles etc. If they say there’s no relaxation, all we can do is say: ‘You had better come and get the buses then.’”

He said about half the company’s revenue comes from home to school transport, and he expected councils to make 70% of the contracted payments in the event of school closures. That would enable him to pay staff a small amount as a retainer.

One member of staff was in isolation after flying home early from a stag party in Madrid last weekend. “We have some lazy people in our industry, so telling people to stay at home is like saying ‘See you in a fortnight’. We’ve had one this morning. He’s taking full advantage. We can’t tell him he has to come in.”

He said about 15% of the drivers on his schools and public buses are aged 70 or above, meaning they are in the age group which is expected to be advised to stay at home for several months. “There are more people over 65 working now because of measures by successive governments which are increasing the pension age.”

 
There is further coronavirus coverage in the latest issue of Passenger Transport:

  • Shapps – firms could be run by public sector
  • Service reductions as coronavirus spreads
  • Bus operators call for timetable flexibility
  • Inside Track: Coronavirus bites buses

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!