First East England Buses has agreed to sell its Kings Lynn bus operation to Norfolk Green, an operator based in the town. First’s bus drivers will transfer to Norfolk Green and surplus vehicles will be redeployed within the region.
First will continue to have an operating centre within Kings Lynn to support its flagship X1 service, which operates from Peterborough through Kings Lynn, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and to Lowestoft.
First continuously reviews the performance and the prospects for future development of its businesses within their local markets. First has also taken into consideration the impact of cuts in public funding. Since the start of April this year, there has been a reduction in the amount of money provided by local authorities for concessionary passholders and for socially necessary bus services. From April 2012 the Bus Service Operators Grant, which is provided by Central Government to partially offset the excise duty on fuel, will be reduced by 20%.
First’s strategy is to focus on delivering further improvements to its X1 service and divest its Kings Lynn bus operations. First believes that the town services more closely match the business objectives and plans of the local operator Norfolk Green.
Commenting, Alan Pilbeam, Managing Director, First East England Buses, said:
“The effect of public spending cuts in the year ahead will create challenges for local bus operators in the area. By selling our Kings Lynn town services to Norfolk Green we can concentrate on further improving and developing our flagship X1 service, which links the major towns and cities in the east of England. Norfolk Green will continue to ensure the ongoing welfare of our Kings Lynn drivers and we will maintain a base in the town to support the X1 service.”
Commenting on the deal, Ben Colson, Managing Director of Norfolk Green, said: “The various cutbacks in central and local Government funding – with the prospect of more cuts to come next year – are forcing changes to bus services everywhere, and by increasing the size of our business, we should be better positioned to face the next round of public funding cuts than either of us would have been separately. There will be changes to timetables on the routes we are taking over but our aim is to keep them to a minimum. We cannot say that fares will be unchanged because of fuel price rises, but from day one, 16 to 19 year olds on the routes we take over will enjoy the benefit of no-ID discounted fares, a benefit we offer across our entire network.”