21 Feb 2018
- Employees being consulted on future options for the business including the potential closure of Fort William depot
- Company working closely with trade union to minimise the potential impact on staff
Stagecoach today (Wednesday 21st February) revealed it is carrying out a review of its operations in Fort William. Since April last year, the company has been unable to cover the cost of running its local network due to a combination of tender losses, reduced passenger demand and higher costs, and the situation is no longer sustainable.
The operator - which runs 8 vehicles and employs 16 staff in Fort William - met with staff and trade union representatives today and has launched a consultation with employees over future options for the business including the potential closure of its Fort William depot.
Stagecoach has had recent discussion with Highland Council about the future of some services in Lochaber. This included Service 45 which Stagecoach operates on a commercial basis. However the company's alternative proposals for the route were not acceptable to the local authority. As a consequence Service 45 is to be withdrawn after service on Saturday 17th March and the company is now also considering further options including the closure of the business. Stagecoach will continue discussing its proposals with The Highland Council and other operators to protect as much of the local network as possible. The company said that, along with the local authority, it would keep customers updated on developments as the review process continues.
It is hoped that the majority of staff could be relocated elsewhere in the Stagecoach North Scotland business or with other bus operators. Employees at the site will be able to discuss their preferences with the management team and the company will be working hard to accommodate these over the coming weeks.
Stagecoach has operated the Fort William bus business since 2008 when it took it over from Rapsons. A combination of rising operating costs and changes to tenders awarded by the Highland Council in April 2017 has impacted the financial sustainability of the business.
Scottish Citylink services to Glasgow, Inverness, Oban and Skye will continue to operate.
Mark Whitelocks, Managing Director for Stagecoach North Scotland said: "We are a significant local employer and we understand the importance of bus services for the local community. We also know that any change can be unsettling for our people. That's why we are working closely with both the trade union to protect as many jobs and as much of the local bus services as possible.
"We're carrying out a consultation and will be working closely with staff during this process, however the reality is that we simply cannot sustain the current operation."
Stagecoach North Scotland currently employs around 840 staff and operates a fleet of more than 350 buses.