THE outgoing boss of bus company Thames Travel has promised it is business as usual after it was taken over by a major UK operator.
Managing director John Wright has sold the company to the Go-Ahead Group, but has pledged that all 90 jobs at its Wallingford base are safe and fare structures will remain the same.
Mr Wright said: “Thames Travel will operate as a separate company within the group and will continue to be based in Wallingford. The intention of the new owners is to continue to grow the firm and it is really good news for everyone.”
The company has been sold for an undisclosed sum as Mr Wright is nearing retirement and will step down before the end of the year.
Go-Ahead also operates the Oxford Bus Company in Oxford, but there are no overlapping routes with Thames Travel running through south Oxfordshire and into Berkshire, carrying 1.25 million passengers a year on 43 buses.
Go-Ahead does not operate any services in Reading, while Thames does have services running into the town.
Thames, which will also retain its existing livery, was started by Mr Wright in 1998.
David Brown, deputy chief executive, of Go-Ahead, said: “Thames Travel is a strong business with a proud tradition of providing high- quality services to the local community.
“With the resources of Go-Ahead behind Thames Travel, the business will be in a stronger position to grow over the years ahead.”
It is the second major investment in Oxfordshire buses by the Go-Ahead Group in just a few weeks.
Earlier this month, the Oxford Bus Company announced it had invested £5m in a fleet of hybrid electro-diesel buses to be launched on Oxford’s park-and-ride routes.
The existing park-and-ride fleet is being replaced with 17 new 73-seat hybrid double-deckers.
The takeover means that the Go-Ahead Group becomes one of Oxfordshire’s biggest private sector employers with more than 650 staff. The group made a pre-tax profit of £50.4m last year, down from £90.9m in 2009.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Thames Travel said it will operate significantly altered timetables on its 101 and 106 services from June 6, affecting many urban and rural passengers.
It said the alterations have come about because the routes were no longer subsidised by Oxfordshire County Council.