Preston Bus owner’s ‘illogical’ blast

Preston Bus managing director Bob Dunn at the company's depot on Deepdale Road in the city
Preston Bus managing director Bob Dunn at the company's depot on Deepdale Road in the city

The owner of Preston Bus has hit out at “illogical” moves by the Government to boost the industry.

John Gunn, non-executive chairman of Rotala, has said changes to boost public transport needed “more coherent thinking” to achieve their aims.

The group reported a rise in pre-tax profits to £2.08m for the past year from £1.88m last year with turnover falling from £56.1m to £54.8m.

Mr Gunn said the changes meant “volatility and instability” would continue in the industry and predicted many smaller operators would continue to go to the wall as a result.

He said: “Government policy decisions are driving considerable changes in the bus industry.

“I would have to say that many of these decisions look illogical: Government wishes to get us out of our cars and on to public transport but takes decisions which are not calculated to promote the increase in bus patronage that could be obtained with more coherent thinking.”

He said Rotala, which also operates services in Bristol and the West Midlands, had enjoyed success despite the challenging conditions in the past 12 months.

It has strengthened its position in the Midlands with the acquisition of new depots in Redditch and Kidderminster.

Mr Gunn told shareholders in an announcement on Monday: “Uncertainty brings opportunity. The group has a very solid financial base.

“The aim of the board is to be financially conservative whilst respecting these three key points for shareholder return.

“We want to create a solid and reliable performer for all shareholders for the long term.”

In January, Preston Bus managing director Bob Dunn revealed the group may need to look at cutting routes in the city due to the impact of providing free travel to pensioners.

It is also looking at moving out of its depot on Deepdale Road in the city after more than a century.

For a full interview with Bob Dunn, see your lepbusinessweek supplement in tomorrow’s new-look Lancashire Evening Post.