First in Northampton

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MK Tom

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I've heard rumours recently that First might pull out of Northampton - is this true? I know they're divesting themselves of a lot of their operations at the moment but I've not heard anything official from them or any reliable source. Does anyone have any info? If they did go who would take over that operation?
 
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mbonwick

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Given their recent divestments, it does seem very likely that Northampton will be sold as it's a huge loss maker.
 

A0wen

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In the 10 years I've lived in Northampton, First seem to have been in wholesale retreat. They've abandoned swathes of the town, their fleet seems to be old and in poor condition when compared to Stagecoach, so I wouldn't be surprised if they did pull out.

Likely buyers?

Stagecoach - possibly though may attract the interest of the Competition authorities.

Arriva - unlikely, too small and far away from their other operations to make sense.

Go Ahead - unlikely, can't see why they'd want it.

Centrebus - possibly. Seem to be expanding into Northants, bought out Judges in the Corby area, would First Northampton would fit their approach.

Other Independent? - Not sure who'd consider it. Yorks have pulled out of stage carriage work, Z&S are out of area.

Whoever buys it, I'd expect the garage in St James to close - it's far too large for the operations First Northampton would be selling.
 

mbonwick

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I think Stagecoach, IF they were to buy the operations, would probably keep the First depot open as it is considerably bigger than the existing Stagecoach depot. (In fact, buses park in Northampton Bus Station overnight due to lack of space)
 

robertclark125

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A Stagecoach takeover would probably attract the interest of the OFT, but they may clear the deal without referencer to the CC. It's all down to what the OFT considers as being in the interests of passengers. Now, if Stagecoach are investing in a modern fleet, and First haven't, I can't be certain, and also, if the current operations are loss making, then the OFT may clear the deal.

The OFT, and for that matter the competition commission, would have to be sure that another firm coming in would

1 - be capable of competing with Stagecoach

2 - be able to run the operations at a profit.

If the OFT is of the opinion that neither is possible, then a stagecoach takeover may be cleared.

Another thing to consider, what if First announced it was closing operations down, and Stagecoach offered to replace routes, and take on the drivers, like a firesale? It has happened here in Fife twice, in 2009, though in both cases the owners of the small firms retired. That would not attract OFT intervention, if a firm closed down, and their rival stepped in.
 

trentside

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First's intention to dispose of sections of their bus operations has become well known over recent months, but the exact details have been sketchy. Even so, I'd imagine that Northampton is one of the areas involved. I don't know the area at all, but the stories of retrenchment and neglect are fairly common - haven't Stagecoach picked up a great deal of the work abandoned by First?
 

MK Tom

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Stagecoach are by far the dominant operation in Northampton. First have invested in some new vehicles - there are a number of Eclipses (I think or one of the smiley Wright designs) and a few Geminis. Both operators have a number of high-floor vehicles still going though - neither could be said to be worse for that.

Centrebus is a likely one it seems to me as they are expanding massively - if they had a route from Yardley Gobian to Northampton it'd be possible to do Luton-Leicester with only them. Arriva were building up a decent Northants network then suddenly pulled out so I doubt it could be them. Z&S are becoming the second major operator in MK and as of Sunday 22nd will have six routes as well as a number of extra contract journeys, but they're not at the size to handle an operation like this yet.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
First also run the Northampton school buses so there's that to consider as well.
 

causton

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Having family that live in Northampton, the faster First get out of there with their useless ancient double-deckers the better. Oh wait, they did on the local route I used to use, and Stagecoach replaced it with a much better service :D
 

MCW

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From what I know the operations in Northampton have got worse and worse.

Typically, I think it would be a prime area for Centrebus to take over and expand more but that all rests on whether they have the resources to do so. you also have to think about what position they would be in if they take it over. if they were to make it profitable they would have to do it rather rapidly as to avoid a loss on the takeover.

you also have to think about the fleet again. I daresay Centrebus would inherit some of the vehicles if they did take over the Northampton Operation, which would be a step forward and two back again. I believe there are a fair number of step entrance buses knocking about still??

As a side, I wonder of the Leicester Operation is under threat.... if it is that would be very interesting indeed.
 

mbonwick

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I think Leicester is fairly safe - it has a healthy profit margin, a relatively modern fleet and a nearly new depot.
 

MCW

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I think Leicester is fairly safe - it has a healthy profit margin, a relatively modern fleet and a nearly new depot.
quite a contrast from Northampton. Yet the link between the two different operations used to be long standing, Even in GRT days it wasn't uncommon to see Leicester buses visiting Northmapton and Vice Versa, same with the drivers, as and when required.

where did it all go wrong?
 

Schnellzug

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quite a contrast from Northampton. Yet the link between the two different operations used to be long standing, Even in GRT days it wasn't uncommon to see Leicester buses visiting Northmapton and Vice Versa, same with the drivers, as and when required.

where did it all go wrong?
When First Bus decided that the way to be successful and profitable was to cut costs as much as possible and be generally unenterprising, in the belief that they had a captive market, rather than the approach adopted by (for example) Stagecoach, of being willing to innovate and take risks when they think they might pay off.
 

MCW

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When First Bus decided that the way to be successful and profitable was to cut costs as much as possible and be generally unenterprising, in the belief that they had a captive market, rather than the approach adopted by (for example) Stagecoach, of being willing to innovate and take risks when they think they might pay off.
Yes I totally agree there. They are like that in Leicester Albeit being a lot more secure with their routes. the last risk take was doing the 87 to Eyres monsell before arriva got it, that flopped terribly. It does tend to be a case of 'Same old Same old' with First, some areas are luckier than others in terms of the services they receive and the buses that get sent out, Isn't it Leeds or somewhere? where First still operate a B reg Olympian?
 

MK Tom

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First aren't the only people still running ancient Olympians. MK has kindly been bestowed with this for the eight-per-hour ridiculously well patronised route 5...

(The Solo on the left is a Centrebus one working for Northants CC on the 90 from Yardley Gobian to CMK, seeing as we were talking about them as a possible successor to First Northampton)
 

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MCW

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First aren't the only people still running ancient Olympians. MK has kindly been bestowed with this for the eight-per-hour ridiculously well patronised route 5...

(The Solo on the left is a Centrebus one working for Northants CC on the 90 from Yardley Gobian to CMK, seeing as we were talking about them as a possible successor to First Northampton)
oh how nice... bit like Leicester's route 5 and 5A we still have midland fox R MNU Volvo's running that!!!

also would be interesting to see who would make a move, personally I do think centrebus have a chance. Possibly could be the best candidates, who knows.
 

BuhSnarf

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I always find the 5 and 5a have new deckers on the route.

For poor buses see the 50/50a and 104 routes!

Sent from my Galaxy S2 with Tapatalk.
 

Ivo

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I wonder if this did happen how it would affect the Luton airport shuttle operation as that is run by first Northampton.
In that case, unless the plan is for us to lose our bendies as well they can give us T3/4/5 FCC back (and restore their original plates)! <(

Well, as i've said numerous times before, give me a Volvo or late Leyland Olympian than a rattly Dart or Solo any day ....
+1 :p
 

MCW

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It will definitely be interesting to see what happens to the vehicles.

if anything happens, they will either get bought when the rest of it is sold off, if it does get sold off, or some vehicles will be transferred around.... would be cool to have something different in Leicester.... WSU 481 would be nice
 

overthewater

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Its very hard choice, since Northampton has also failed to make a profit, and even if it sold on could anyone get the operations back in the red without stepping on the toes of stagecoach? I doubt. I cant see how the CC or OFT could say as First is very very weak in the town.
 

A0wen

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Its very hard choice, since Northampton has also failed to make a profit, and even if it sold on could anyone get the operations back in the red without stepping on the toes of stagecoach? I doubt. I cant see how the CC or OFT could say as First is very very weak in the town.
I suspect the "value" in First Northampton is the depot in St James. That is a large enough site to fit a few houses on and given the area it would probably be lo-cost / social housing, which ticks a number of planning boxes at present.
 

mainframe444

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I think Stagecoach, IF they were to buy the operations, would probably keep the First depot open as it is considerably bigger than the existing Stagecoach depot. (In fact, buses park in Northampton Bus Station overnight due to lack of space)
Even when stagecoach had Bedford Road depot they parked buses at the bus station, this is where all drivers sign on and off.
Bedford Road , and now Rothersthorpe Road, are just bus maintenance garages, not overnight parking.
 

Ivo

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Southend's old (and *apparently* temporary - it lasted over 30 years!) Central Bus Station was quite a bit larger than the modern Travel Centre, and operations have suffered as a result. Greyfriars may be awful but at least it is large enough; Northampton will go the same way as Southend if the current plan is implemented. It needs something more substantial. They are at least showing signs of encouragement though; anything - including no bus station - has to be better than the current Hell hole!

I will admit to having visited Greyfriars only once to date - but, August aside, I don't wish to make that number any larger.
 
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