First Hampshire & Dorset 'in dire financial straits'

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nesw

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http://www.route-one.net/articles/Employees/Dorset_strike_drags_on

First has told Unite that First Hampshire and Dorset is 'in dire financial straits'.
First’s efforts at last week’s talks have been blasted as “a PR exercise” by Unite Regional Officer Bob Lanning.

“Talks proved fruitless as it soon became apparent that management were engaged in a PR exercise and had no intention of negotiating in an adult fashion,” says Mr Lanning, who adds that First has told Unite that the Hampshire and Dorset business is in “dire financial straits.”

The union says that it asked to see figures to back up the claim, but First was unable to provide them.

“This was an unsubtle PR stunt designed to put Unite in a bad light. It was not a genuine attempt to solve this eight-month dispute that is beginning to hit the tourist trade in Bridport and Weymouth,” says Mr Lanning. Unite also claims that First UK Bus is a “very profitable company”. It returned an operating margin of 6% in the year to 31 March.
Another sell off on the way?
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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If the company attempting to sell says they are in 'dire financial straits' what chance of anything other than a fire sale?

Interesting update today from Marc Reddy

https://www.firstgroup.com/wessex-d...ates/news/more-buses-set-run-weymouth-despite

I think Mr Reddy knows the reason why Unite don't want to enter ACAS!

I think we can all hope that, somehow, the situation is resolved. Perhaps some sort of roadmap that can help to reduce the pay divide with other depots (though I'd assume they've already explored that?).

I doubt that Weymouth is the pot of gold that some believe, especially given the patchy summer weather we've had this year.
 

317 forever

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I thought the operation in Portsmouth, Fareham & Southampton was quite profitable. It may be Weymouth & Yeovil that is dragging the operation down. I never saw the merit of "First Hants & Dorset" as it is 2 separate operations really.

Admittedly First did invest in some Streetlites for Weymouth, but these could be redeployed if they pull out of the area. I reckon Go-Ahead would like to expand their network in Weymouth but are reluctant to compete with or buy from First.
 

Robertj21a

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I thought the operation in Portsmouth, Fareham & Southampton was quite profitable. It may be Weymouth & Yeovil that is dragging the operation down. I never saw the merit of "First Hants & Dorset" as it is 2 separate operations really.

Admittedly First did invest in some Streetlites for Weymouth, but these could be redeployed if they pull out of the area. I reckon Go-Ahead would like to expand their network in Weymouth but are reluctant to compete with or buy from First.

Not much point in GoAhead rushing in to buy if they feel that First is going to collapse in a heap anyway.
 

Busaholic

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I'm so ancient that I remember the London Bus Strike of 1958 (just!) and the effect it had on bus services in the capital for the next 25 years, the word 'catastrophic' being probably a little too strong, but only marginally. Passengers abandoning regular bus travel rarely change their minds and the industry cannot afford own goals. Conciliation is the only way forward and hotheads, on either side, need to stand aside.
 

Rich McLean

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Not much point in GoAhead rushing in to buy if they feel that First is going to collapse in a heap anyway.

GoAhead could move in there and run at a loss (with dead mileage) in order to force First to close down the depot. But then they would have to turn the loss around once they had the monopoly. It could also backfire on them a la Plymouth style, with another company buying the depot off them and competing.
 

Robertj21a

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GoAhead could move in there and run at a loss (with dead mileage) in order to force First to close down the depot. But then they would have to turn the loss around once they had the monopoly. It could also backfire on them a la Plymouth style, with another company buying the depot off them and competing.

No need for them to bother really, I think GoAhead has enough going on to keep themselves busy. If, and it's still a big IF, First do eventually abandon Weymouth then there'll still be time for another operator to pick up whatever pieces seem worthwhile.
 

the101

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It is not such a big 'if' given Marc Reddy's comments in something that First put out yesterday. The clear message reading between the lines is that if strikes don't stop, First will look at the viability of its Dorset operations as stoppages are doing long-term, major damage to its business there - which is exactly what was always going to happen given the length of strike periods. Those behind the action may end up having plenty of time to consider their actions in the future while queuing up to sign on.
 

Baxenden Bank

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It is not such a big 'if' given Marc Reddy's comments in something that First put out yesterday. The clear message reading between the lines is that if strikes don't stop, First will look at the viability of its Dorset operations as stoppages are doing long-term, major damage to its business there - which is exactly what was always going to happen given the length of strike periods. Those behind the action may end up having plenty of time to consider their actions in the future while queuing up to sign on.

If I were a major shareholder or financier of First, I may be rather concerned at the management driving my investment into a cliff.

As for the drivers, there is a size of business available in Weymouth requiring x buses and y drivers. First can run it or someone else will. For the sake of those dependent upon public transport, I hope the issue is sorted before the value of the business is destroyed and not worth buying / taking over / picking up the pieces, leaving people with no service.
 
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Lrd

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Marc Reddy said the same thing about Southampton being unprofitable and if they were to pull out of the area then it would be the drivers fault, when we all voted to strike early last year. But with strike action not actually going ahead, everything all went quiet and they still seem to be surviving a year and a half later.

I doubt they are making huge profits though, if any that is.
 

Robertj21a

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If I were a major shareholder or financier of First, I may be rather concerned at the management driving my investment into a cliff.

As for the drivers, there is a size of business available in Weymouth requiring x buses and y drivers. First can run it or someone else will. For the sake of those dependent upon public transport, I hope the issue is sorted before the value of the business is destroyed and not worth buying / taking over / picking up the pieces, leaving people with no service.

Shareholders in First Group will, rightly, be concerned at the overall profitability of the entire company. It's for the management to determine how that can be best achieved and it may be that Weymouth etc cannot be profitable (all year round) if pay levels are increased further. The alternative could be that the operation is downsized, or closed.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Don't know if this is reflective of how the strike is going or First having more resources drafted in but the latest emergency timetables show a full service on the main town service (2) and to Dorchester (10). Also later journeys appearing on the 1. Few routes now have no service (X52/54, 6 etc) but headways widened and evening services missing on many others.

Marc Reddy has stated that they're happy to go to binding arbitration but the union are refusing. Make of that what you will.

There will be no winners on this one.
 

nesw

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The Weymouth area has been known for low fares since deregulation and for many years there was much competition. The Country bus website gives some background info. http://www.countrybus.co.uk/weybus.htm

I believe that fares are still on the low side compared with other seaside towns.
 

winston270twm

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[.n]

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The Weymouth area has been known for low fares since deregulation and for many years there was much competition. The Country bus website gives some background info. http://www.countrybus.co.uk/weybus.htm

I believe that fares are still on the low side compared with other seaside towns.


Don't make me laugh, the fares are stupidly high, please also note that the "Weymouth" area includes other places like Dorchester, Bridport ,Lyme, Axminster etc. First fares on my route have risen by well over 50% over the past few years and the service last bus is now 4 hours earlier than it used to be with several areas not served, and no buses on a Sunday.

They need to get their acts together, pay their drivers properly, maintain their buses properly, fix their pathetic broken waste of space PIS, and actually sell bus tickets on their mobile app.

Its easy to tell from their strike day services that Marc Reddy intends to scrap more services/journeys and which ones it will be.
 

dgl

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I could see service 4 going in the winter months (there are 2 holiday camps on it's route so it would in theory still have to be run during the season), services 1, 10, and 2 would stay as they seem to be the money makers esp. the 1/2, strangely the return fare from Weymouth to Dorchester is cheaper on the train than the bus.

I would also predict that all Jurassic Coaster runs to Exeter will cease unless Devon CC cough up some money which I doubt they would do.

The 3 and 8 could also see reductions but I doubt the PVR is very high for that service and the 8 is in a weird position in that it is not a very long bus and has no "fast running" sections like the number 10 has yet it bridges two borough councils and whilst they are effectively merged I doubt West Dorset CC would want to fund it.

The other thing to remember is that all services operated by Weymouth are commercial (iirc) so they have full control within reason to set the bus timetables/routes.

The only council supported services are run by Damory or DCC themselves as far as I am aware and they are relatively infrequent (1/2 a day), serving only the few areas of Weymouth without a close bus link (radipole/southill).

And as for fares a single ticket from Portland to anywhere in the Weymouth zone (that is the area from Ferrybridge to Chickerell, Preston and Upwey) is £2.50 and includes changing buses and a return/day ticket costs £3.50, so not exactly the cheapest but no to bad value.
Of course the price to Dorchester has go up since the removal of the Weymouth Plus day ticket and the fares in the wider Jurassic Coast route have gone up but due to the area the route serves it is to be expected esp. when there aren't as many people using the service in the winter months.
 

Robertj21a

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I could see service 4 going in the winter months (there are 2 holiday camps on it's route so it would in theory still have to be run during the season), services 1, 10, and 2 would stay as they seem to be the money makers esp. the 1/2, strangely the return fare from Weymouth to Dorchester is cheaper on the train than the bus.

I would also predict that all Jurassic Coaster runs to Exeter will cease unless Devon CC cough up some money which I doubt they would do.

The 3 and 8 could also see reductions but I doubt the PVR is very high for that service and the 8 is in a weird position in that it is not a very long bus and has no "fast running" sections like the number 10 has yet it bridges two borough councils and whilst they are effectively merged I doubt West Dorset CC would want to fund it.

The other thing to remember is that all services operated by Weymouth are commercial (iirc) so they have full control within reason to set the bus timetables/routes.

The only council supported services are run by Damory or DCC themselves as far as I am aware and they are relatively infrequent (1/2 a day), serving only the few areas of Weymouth without a close bus link (radipole/southill).

And as for fares a single ticket from Portland to anywhere in the Weymouth zone (that is the area from Ferrybridge to Chickerell, Preston and Upwey) is £2.50 and includes changing buses and a return/day ticket costs £3.50, so not exactly the cheapest but no to bad value.
Of course the price to Dorchester has go up since the removal of the Weymouth Plus day ticket and the fares in the wider Jurassic Coast route have gone up but due to the area the route serves it is to be expected esp. when there aren't as many people using the service in the winter months.

£2.50 singles and £3.50 day tickets would be very welcome in many parts of the UK !. Perhaps they need to put the fares up.
 

henairs

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Hi,
Interesting to follow this thread and read the comments expressed.
Haven't bothered to comment until now as living in Yeovil we were also indirectly affected until our recent move into the Buses of Somerset fold which has improved our areas chances of survival now we are not in Dorset ha ha any more.
We in Yeovil have had to contend with oddball fares for some time now with no relation to the Weymouth area whatsoever.
We have a day ticket at £4 20 which Dorset doesn't have but not the oddball single/return structure they deploy down there.
A return to town which is a straight out/back ticket between two said points also differs in price and cannot be used as a rover like a return is in Weymouth.
Another oddity is our so called example of a WOE Plus ticket which costs £12 (same as Cornwall) but is marked First Dorset which confuses the hell out of Drivers around the WOE Plus area. Indeed a few weeks back a friend and myself were turfed off a bus at Weston as the driver insisted we were not valid and it was a Hampshire area ticket even though we told him it was purchased in Yeovil and we had no services to Weymouth and certainly not Hampshire. So we then caught the following bus an X1 which had an older wiser driver who knew the ticket so we got into Weston. We returned via Burnham on route 20 again with a wiser driver who accepted our ticket no problem.
We here in Yeovil feel far more comfortable being returned to our proper county operator and are glad to be leaving the Farce that is First Dorset.
Frankly up here we don't care much if Dorset survives or not given the treatment we have had from there.
Cheers, Mike R
 

CD

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Another oddity is our so called example of a WOE Plus ticket which costs £12 (same as Cornwall) but is marked First Dorset which confuses the hell out of Drivers around the WOE Plus area. Indeed a few weeks back a friend and myself were turfed off a bus at Weston as the driver insisted we were not valid and it was a Hampshire area ticket even though we told him it was purchased in Yeovil and we had no services to Weymouth and certainly not Hampshire. So we then caught the following bus an X1 which had an older wiser driver who knew the ticket so we got into Weston. We returned via Burnham on route 20 again with a wiser driver who accepted our ticket no problem.
We here in Yeovil feel far more comfortable being returned to our proper county operator and are glad to be leaving the Farce that is First Dorset.
Frankly up here we don't care much if Dorset survives or not given the treatment we have had from there.
Cheers, Mike R

It was much easier when First Day South West tickets were first introduced, being valid from Poole to Penzance. But now FWoE,FSW and FHD all have different fare structures which makes travelling across companies areas very difficult. A £10 WoE plus ticket is valid on FWoE and BoS but a £10 BoS ticket is not valid on FWoE. Dorset do not even do a day ticket now only a weekly one for £20, good value but expensive for only one days use.

I reserve judgement on the changeover to BoS. Yeovil has had decent vehicles from FHD, Solo SRs, B7RLEs and the ADL Darts which with better maintenance are good vehicles. Remember when all Yeovil got was Taunton and Bridgwater castoffs. You have only to follow BoS social media to see most mornings services are cancelled to to lack of serviceable vehicles. Not to mention all the failures that occur in service every day. Hopefully this will improve when the cascades from Camborne arrive, but the B7RLEs have been pounding the roads between Truro and Penzance/St.Ives for the last 10 years so may not be in the best of condition.

Just hope it's not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. :neutral:
 

THarris123

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It was much easier when First Day South West tickets were first introduced, being valid from Poole to Penzance. But now FWoE,FSW and FHD all have different fare structures which makes travelling across companies areas very difficult. A £10 WoE plus ticket is valid on FWoE and BoS but a £10 BoS ticket is not valid on FWoE. Dorset do not even do a day ticket now only a weekly one for £20, good value but expensive for only one days use.

I reserve judgement on the changeover to BoS. Yeovil has had decent vehicles from FHD, Solo SRs, B7RLEs and the ADL Darts which with better maintenance are good vehicles. Remember when all Yeovil got was Taunton and Bridgwater castoffs. You have only to follow BoS social media to see most mornings services are cancelled to to lack of serviceable vehicles. Not to mention all the failures that occur in service every day. Hopefully this will improve when the cascades from Camborne arrive, but the B7RLEs have been pounding the roads between Truro and Penzance/St.Ives for the last 10 years so may not be in the best of condition.

Just hope it's not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. :neutral:

10 years between Truro and Penzance? I thought they were ex Manchester?
 

Blackpudding

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They were new for the Commonwealth games 2006 in Manchester then moved to Cornwall.

Just for the record it was the MV02xxx B7L which were used for the Commonwealth Games in 2002. Harris is right that the B7RLE were ex Manchester commercial operations.
 
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