News: Kent takes axe to council bus operation
By Alan Millar on 13 January 2013, 17:06
Kent County Council is to withdraw from direct bus operation, closing its wholly owned Kent Top Travel company once existing contracts expire and no longer competing for new business.
This phased withdrawal from the bus market follows sustained complaints from private sector operators who feel that the council company has distorted the market, competes with them for commercial hire work and has gained contracted services at their expense.
The council established Kent Top Travel in 2005 and based it at Aylesford, near Maidstone. It has around 100 employees.
At that time, it took over much of the work that the council had already undertaken directly and the Conservative-controlled council has argued that it helps to moderate contract prices by stimulating competition for routes operated under the tendering regime.
The decision to close it follows a critical report by independent consultants who said the council had taken an ‘opportunistic approach’ to the development of its trading companies to meet financial targets.