National Express swoops in to buy Clarkes of London

first_imgNational Express Group (NEG) has bought respected family-owned independent, Clarkes of London. It runs 56 coaches from its Lower Sydenham base, halfway between Croydon and the city.Says NEG: “The acquisition expands our significant presence in the commuter and private hire markets. It will be business as usual for our customers and the Clarkes team.”Clarkes will be managed by Gillingham, north Kent-based The Kings Ferry; itself bought by NEG nine years ago. Its MD, Ian Fraser, adds the new role of MD at Clarkes to his duties.Clarkes was run by husband and wife team Debbie and Terry Newman, who will stay with the business for a ‘transitional period’Clarkes was run by husband and wife Debbie and Terry Newman (pictured), who will stay with the business for a “transitional period.”The purchase price has not been revealed. Clarkes is financially strong; its latest accounts for the year ending 30 April showed a £329,667 pre-tax profit on an £8.4m turnover, a 3.9% margin. Its net assets were £4.3m and its acid ratio 0.44.Mr Fraser says: “It’s a company I’ve look at and admired for some time. The Kings Ferry has benefitted from the economies of scale by being part of a plc, and I’m sure this will also help Clarkes.”There is plenty of room for expansion at Clarkes, which already has a 70-vehicle O-Licence and space for 100 vehicles in its modern yard. The Kings Ferry runs 75 coaches.Commuter coaches are 20% of Clarkes’ turnover. It gives NEG a strong portfolio of corporate work and private hire – especially inbound tourism, an area that The Kings Ferry is weaker in – to the group.The firm, founded in 1958 by coal hauliers Edwin and Lillian Clarke, soon developed into coaching. In 1972 his eldest son, Bill Clarke and his wife, took control and began to broaden the services.Since Bill’s retirement in 2002, control passed to his eldest daughter, Debbie Newman, who instituted a major business change programme and expansion.last_img read more

Sure Transport is ‘not only a CCTV company’

first_imgHow soon do you know if your CCTV systems fail?Sure Transport was at the show promoting its cloud-based monitoring system that allows operators to manage their CCTV within their fleet on a daily basis, with automatic CCTV health checks to minimise risk/exposure of failed systems.Amanda Howell, Sure Transport Managing Director, said: “We’re not only a CCTV company, we also do the back-office cloud essentials.”Sure provides:Wi-fi monitoring/reportingWi-fi managed service maintenanceCellular cloud managed serviceGPS TrackingOff the shelf systems or a bespoke designPlug-and-play vehicle kits built to orderSoftware developmentThe service can be subscription based, or bought.last_img

Will Labour use Bill to embarrass?

first_imgI’ve not yet commented on Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to not renew Uber’s private hire licence. I’m not an Uber user as I’m old fashioned enough to rather like the London black cab. I also don’t know if the concerns that TfL had over the Uber operation were well founded, or whether there was a degree of political motivation behind the decision.Now, Daniel Zeichner, the Labour MP for Cambridge and a former shadow Labour transport spokesman, has introduced a Private Members Bill to bring in stronger controls over the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles. The snappily titled Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill has its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 2 February.Will the Bill, to bring in stronger controls on private hire, get through?Private Members Bills never make much progress and rarely get Royal Assent unless they have government backing.I very much doubt that this Bill will see the light of day and pass into law, even if it may have a fair bit of political support in the House. The text of the Bill isn’t actually yet available so it’s a bit difficult to comment on its quality and whether it’s sensible. Private Members Bills are often not printed until close to Second Reading. But it serves to remind us that it’s not just the buses that Labour wants to see greater regulatory control over.However, if the Bill has the strong support of Labour MPs and the Labour leadership, it’s not impossible that it might pass its Second Reading.Labour has withdrawn the traditional ‘pairing’ system whereby each MP has a ‘pair’ in the opposition party so that if an MP is away his or her ‘pair’ won’t vote when divisions are called. Now this arrangement has been withdrawn, the government is exposed to potential ambushes with Labour whips suddenly and unexpectedly calling for a vote on something, in the hope that insufficient numbers of Conservative MPs will be around to ensure the government has a majority when the vote takes place.This means that Conservative MPs need to be on the parliamentary estate much more than would normally be the case, but to my knowledge Labour has not yet used this tactic in order to try and embarrass the government. Whether it would do so on a relatively minor Private Members Bill is doubtful.It’s a tactic to be used sparingly and should generally be reserved for more high-profile issues where maximum embarrassment can be achieved. But who knows? In these febrile and volatile political times anything is possible, and a Bill to impose greater controls on taxis and private hire vehicles might just be a subject that encourages the Labour Whips to catch the government unawares.last_img read more

Funding for ‘vital’ Welsh services

first_imgAt Wales’ second Bus Summit, Transport Secretary Ken Skates has announced £3.5m to improve on-bus and bus stop environment.Mr Skates said the funding will be for local authorities to improve equipment on board buses and bus stops.He said: “The money I am announcing will help provide tangible results for passengers to enjoy.“It will speed up the implementation of on-bus audio-visual equipment, including technology to bring on-board ‘next stop’ announcements. It will also make possible improvements to related infrastructure, such as stops, shelters, signs and flags, timetable displays and accessible kerbs.  “Local scheduled bus services are vital to Welsh life and actually account for around 100m passenger journeys each year, which is why this summit is so important for the healthy future of our bus industry.”last_img read more

BAE Systems Series-ER hybrid ‘still has a lot to give’

first_imgThe BAE Systems Series-ER package means that diesel-electric hybrid propulsion still has a lot left to give and is not yet approaching the end of its life, the company says.The first Alexander Dennis Enviro400ERs with the BAE Systems Series-ER package recently entered service with Brighton and Hove Buses. They have geofencing to ensure zero-emission operation in certain areas. BAE Systems says that there is potential to significantly extend Series-ER’s engine-off capability.64kW/h or more of battery capacity is a possibility in the future. That compares with 32kW/h in the current generation Series-ER. A doubling of energy storage would not necessarily mean the same for engine-off range.Instead, the system could be optimised to give an even longer zero-emission capability. That must be balanced by the impact of restarting the engine after a longer period of being switched off and what it means for the exhaust aftertreatment unit’s temperature.BAE says despite that, overall emissions of a Series-ER-equipped bus would be no worse than its predecessor the Series-E over the course of a complete route.The space claim required by Series-ER’s energy storage unit is the same as that for Series-ER. As a result, the newer product can be retrofitted to older hybrid buses.last_img read more

Face covering rule for coaches and buses in England from 15 June

first_imgAll passengers on coaches and buses in England will be required to wear a face covering from Monday 15 June.The development was announced by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps when he led the government’s daily press briefing on coronavirus COVID-19. Mr Shapps says the change will be made due to an expected increase in passenger numbers when movement restrictions are eased further.He adds that face coverings that can be made at home are suitable. Exceptions will apply to very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.An amendment will shortly be made to the Public Service Vehicle Regulations to reflect the requirement. The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has confirmed that it will apply to coach passengers in England, as well as those using buses.Mandatory use of a face covering will be enforced by operators. Travel can be refused in the case of non-compliance. Mr Shapps additionally reinforced the note in previously issued guidance that it may not always be possible to observe social distancing guidelines when vehicles are busy.CPT has responded positively to the announcement. CEO Graham Vidler says mandatory use of a face covering will give more passengers the confidence to travel on buses. CPT will work with the government on how the requirement is implemented, including how capacity is increased and how buses’ value is maximised in safely restarting the economy and daily life.Drivers will also “need” to wear face coverings, says Mr Shapps. It has been reported that a requirement for passengers to use face coverings on public transport in Scotland is being considered.last_img read more

Ford chases Sprinter market with uprated 5,000kg Transit

first_imgFord has announced an uprated, 5,000kg GVW version of the Transit. The manufacturer says that the increase in permitted weight will allow the model to be used in passenger applications with 19 seats “or more.”The higher GVW has been accomplished using uprated brake, driveline and suspension components. At 5,000kg GVW the uprated Ford Transit will be powered by a 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine that develops 170bhp and 390Nm of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but – importantly for the passenger market – a 10-speed automatic is optional.A 3,500kg rear axle has been introduced from the Transit range in North America. It is paired with a new 2,100kg front axle which delivers a 225kg load capacity enhancement over the standard version.Ford says that besides extended wheelbase, high-roof L4 van form, the new model will be available as a chassis cab that will also suit passenger-carrying use. That includes the accessible market. Both will be available from dealers by late November. Previously, Transit minicoaches and minibuses could carry a maximum of 18 people, including the driverSays Ford of Europe General Manager, Commercial Vehicles Hans Schep: “Ford’s new flagship Transit is the most capable, heaviest-rated van we have ever built. We listened to our converter partners and their customers, who need this extra capability for their business, whether it’s a tipper, an ambulance or a larger minicoach.”Ford introduced the 10-speed automatic gearbox to its Transit range in June. The manufacturer says its ratio spread allows the engine to consistently operate close to its peak efficiency, benefitting fuel consumption.last_img read more

Coach industry debate draws noncommittal response to MPs

first_imgA Westminster Hall debate on the future of the coach industry, held on 10 December, saw MPs again articulate the need for sector-specific backing as backbench political momentum for a bespoke package continues to grow.MPs from multiple parties underlined the need for the government to act to help coaching until leisure-related work can restart and social distancing requirements are removed. In spite of that, the largely noncommittal response from Under-Secretary of State for Transport Rachel Maclean will have done little to inspire confidence that such countrywide support is imminent.A small glimmer of hope came when Ms Maclean acknowledged that the coach industry’s good health “is a vital issue” to ministers. She adds that conversations about the sector will continue. “This is not the end of them. We want to understand and provide the best available support that is necessary.”Coach industry debate draws common consensus from MPsThe debate was secured by Grahame Morris, MP for Easington. Referencing the ongoing Wish you could Hear postcard campaign, Mr Morris noted in his opening remarks that the number of his peers present demonstrated how widely the call for sector-specific support has been grasped.Including Mr Morris, 14 MPs spoke on the industry’s behalf. Many raised how coach operators have never before looked for help. The current situation has meant that some in their constituencies have shed jobs and will find the coming months difficult if no backing is forthcoming.Between April and October 2019, coaches in the UK covered 130m miles. In the same period in 2020, that distance was just 13m miles, data has shownSeveral MPs add that the coach sector remains a viable industry. Before the pandemic it was made up of viable and profitable businesses. “However, bookings are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2021,” says Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering.“Many operators face a drop in income of around 90%. At the same time, their fixed outgoings remain: Payments on vehicles, maintenance and so on. The summer months provided some respite, but they could hardly be profitable because of social distancing requirements.”Derek Twigg, MP for Halton, notes that the coach industry has already been relied upon by the government as part of its response to the pandemic. “When British nationals came home from China in February and March, it was coaches that transported them from London to Wirral.Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, points out that over £1bn in business rate relief has been, or will be, returned by supermarkets. That money was previously accounted for by the government. Now it is not, he says.“Can we use some of it to throw a lifeline to coach companies? Coach operators are people that we never heard from. They never troubled us. Now they need us, so we need to be there for them.”Advocate rallies against claims of previous support measuresThe government has issued standardised replies to some requests that it provides bespoke backing to the coach industry. Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy railed at some of the points made in those messages in her speech.A payment of £50 per coach, per day would be enough to guarantee operators’ survival, the Confederation of Passenger Transport has claimedAmong the claims in questions are repeated assertions that money made available by the Department for Education to fund additional dedicated home-to-school transport in England would be of wide benefit.That has not proven to be the case, says Mrs Hardy. “It has helped only 1,000 coaches. The rest has been deployed to buses.”Mrs Hardy also seized on a suggestion made recently by Chancellor Rishi Sunak that the coach sector has benefited from VAT cuts and deferrals. It is understood that the claim was made by Mr Sunak earlier in the days before the Westminster Hall debate. Passenger transport is not within the scope of VAT.Northern Ireland and Scotland packages ‘are an example’Alan Brown, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, raised the Scottish Government’s decision the day before the debate to award £6m to coach operators. It is an example to Westminster, he says. “If the UK government steps up and provides money for the coach industry, that will deliver Barnett consequentials for Scotland. We will be able to do even more to support this vital industry.”Fellow SNP MP Dave Doogan, who represents Angus, also referenced the Scottish Government’s decision. Westminster’s failure to do the same “is not a good look,” he says. “There is no room in the summing up for listening to what we have done before. What we need is something new, and we need it very urgently.”Figures presented at coach industry debate illustrate scale of impactSeveral figures were presented to Ms Maclean. In an indication of how relatively little it would cost the government to ensure the industry’s good health, Mr Brown told her that the Confederation of Passenger Transport estimates that £50 per coach, per day “would be enough for those companies to survive.”For the UK government to not follow the examples set by Northern Ireland and Scotland ‘will not be a good look’, says MP for Angus Dave DooganThe extent of the drop in trade witnessed by the sector was illustrated by other speakers.Between April and October 2019, coaches in the UK covered 130m miles. For the same period in 2020, the figure was 13m miles, says Buckingham MP Greg Smith.Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, shared that one operator in her constituency has laid of half of its staff. That came after 99% of its bookings were cancelled. One customer – a large tour company – accounts for a loss of £400,000 worth of work for that business.Industry must ensure that conversations remain openMs Maclean’s bland response to the debate has disappointed many operators. While odd slivers of lights could be seen in some of what she said, much was noncommittal.Westminster’s view remains that reopening the economy is the best remedy for all struggling sectors. While that may be correct, the coach industry cannot return to full productivity until social distancing requirements are removed. There is no indication of when that will be.Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers notes that an operator in his constituency ran some excursions and holidays when restrictions were relaxed during the summer. It carried an average loading of 18 passengers on those trips because of social distancing. That is “simply not viable,” says Mr Vickers.The Treasury has promised a response in January 2021 to requests for assistance made by Mrs Hardy at a meeting on 3 December. Regardless of what that delivers, the coach industry must now hold the government to one part of Ms Maclean’s response. It is indeed imperative that conversations over support remain alive.A recording of the debate on the future of the coach industry can be viewed here. A transcription can be accessed on Hansard.last_img read more

Obituary: Ropers Coaches founder Vera Roper

first_imgFounder of Ropers Coaches, Vera Roper, has passed away peacefully at the age of 85.Vera founded the company in Bradford, West Yorkshire, with husband Stanley in 1972, focusing on day trips and school contracts. Eventually they moved into tours across the UK and Europe, running with one coach for much of the time. The last coach the couple bought was a Bova Futura on Stanley’s 60th birthday.After Stanley’s sudden death on 24 February 2006 Vera began to hire coaches from Gee Vee Travel and later family friend Gary Boland, of Tour2Cruise.Vera continued running the business, organising tours until her retirement at the age of 80. Tour2Cruise took over in 2014. Following the acquisition Gary bought a Setra coach and named it in Stanley’s memory.Tour2Cruise continues to honour the Roper name to this day, operating a coach in Ropers’ livery.Vera leaves behind a son and daughter, Ian and Alison, as well as son-in-law Alan and grandchildren Matty and Aimee.The family has requested any donations to Allerton Cat Rescue of Allerton Road, Bradford.last_img read more

Wheel tax approved in Kosciusko County

first_img Pinterest By Tommie Lee – July 24, 2019 0 504 Facebook Previous articleUpdated Info: Mishawaka couple killed in Trooper-involved crash on Toll RoadNext articleDNR: Sudden fish deaths in Shipshewana “natural” Tommie Lee Facebook IndianaLocalSouth Bend Market Pinterest Google+ WhatsApp Google+ (Source: License: Some drivers in Kosciusko County will pay a little more in registration fees next year.The County Council has unanimously approved a wheel tax increase designed to help maintain the roads in the county.The new tax will impact most vehicles on the road. Passenger vehicles under 1,100 pounds will cost $35 to register, an increase of $10. Semis and other heavier vehicles will increase from $40 to $60.The tax increase goes into effect January 1. Twitter WhatsApp Twitter Wheel tax approved in Kosciusko Countylast_img read more