Western Greyhound bus services go from bad to worse – future of the operator is uncertain
As anyone who has used Western Greyhound bus services over the last 6 months will know, the standard of service has gone from bad to worse over this time. A high proportion of services are running significantly late; many services are simply not running. It is almost impossible to get through to the bus company's switchboard to find out what is going on.
The Western Greyhound annual accounts for 2012-13 were submitted to Companies House in October 2014 (4 months late) and they tell a sorry tale. The company lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in the year covered by the accounts. The directors' own commentary on the situation is that they continue to lose money this year and that they will not have the funding to continue for much longer.
Press reports say that the company has been put up for sale but, in reality, there is little prospect of any other bus operator taking over the whole Western Greyhound operation. It is more likely that other operators are sitting back and waiting for routes to become available if and when WG fails.
This is a very sad time for an operator that has, for many years, provided excellent services across large areas of Cornwall. In the past few years, the overall bus network has been as good as it ever has been with WG playing a major part in that. Unfortunately, with reductions in the funding available to support routes in rural areas, whilst at the same time the costs of running services continue to rise inexorably, bus companies are being squeezed in the middle of this equation. An operator with a large multinational company behind it can afford to weather a few storms; but for locally owned companies such as Western Greyhound, they do not have the financial cushion to see them through difficult times. The future is bleak for Western Greyhound.
The 550/551 route from the Roseland via Tregony to Truro is currently run as a commercial service by Western Greyhound, unlike a few years ago when it was being subsidised by the Council to the extent of £75,000 per annum. Unsurprisingly, without that subsidy, WG are almost certainly now losing money on this route. If Western Greyhound ceases to operate, it is likely that the Council will have to find a way of subsidising a new operator to cover this route. I have been lobbying the Public Transport Unit to ensure that plans are in place for this eventuality.
Meanwhile, passengers will continue to suffer until the situation is resolved one way or the other.