The Go-Ahead Group has today announced that it has agreed terms with FirstGroup to purchase the Queens Road bus depot for a consideration of £11.17m. The sale, which is due to complete in the next few months, will take Go-Ahead into Manchester for the first time.
The sale would include the First Manchester depot site at Queens Road and the bus fleet of 163 vehicles. The sale is expected to complete within several weeks and employees who work for the Queens Road bus operation will transfer to the Go-Ahead Group.
First Manchester will continue to operate existing local bus services from the Queens Road site until the sale is completed and customers should see no changes to their daily journeys throughout this period of transition.
Today’s news follows speculation that First Manchester was looking to sell its First Manchester operations. The sale of Queens Road will see First Manchester continue to operate from two sites, Oldham and Bolton. These depots and the services that operate from them are unaffected by today’s announcement.
While the initial focus will be on ensuring a smooth transition to maintain services from day one of the new operation, Go-Ahead will invest in the people, vehicles and systems to improve the local bus services to customers. Buses from Queens Road predominantly serve destinations in the centre, North Manchester and Salford.
David Brown, Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, said: “We look forward to contributing to Manchester’s community and transport. Buses are an essential public service that help passengers get to work, access education and healthcare, for leisure and visits to relatives. We aim to deliver a comfortable, reliable service while investing to improve air quality.
“As a business that prides itself on looking after our colleagues, we hope to reinvigorate the Queens Road depot. We also look forward to engaging in open conversations with TfGM, stakeholders and customers in the Manchester area to better understand how we can create a sustainable and thriving service.”
Speaking about the announcement, Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said: “I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers in Greater Manchester. Today’s announcement does not reflect on the effort, commitment or individual performance of our Queens Road employees and we will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer. Over the years we have enjoyed a constructive relationship with both Go-Ahead and Transport for Greater Manchester and look forward to working closely with them to ensure this transfer goes ahead as smoothly as possible with minimal impact for our customers.
“We continue to support the OneBus partnership in the city region and believe that a positive partnership between the Mayor; Local Authorities; businesses; the community and OneBus, can help tackle the increasing impact of congestion and deliver a package of improvements which puts customers first and offers good value for both passengers and public investment.”
Following the announcement that First Group intend to sell their Queens Road bus depot and operations to Go-Ahead Group, Transport for Greater Manchester has issued the following statement.
Cllr Mark Aldred, Chair of Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “Our first priority is passengers across Greater Manchester and affected staff.
“We have been reassured by both First and Go-Ahead that the transfer of services will be managed in the best way to minimise disruption. We will continue to liaise with both operators to monitor the situation closely during the transition, including seeking further clarity about the impact on passengers and staff.”
Queens Road depot will operate as Go North West, while a local brand will be chosen in collaboration with customers and stakeholders.