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Council puts arms-length bus company into liquidation after financial woes

One of the few remaining local authority-owned bus operators has ceased trading and been put into liquidation.

Halton Borough Council said that the arm’s-length owned Halton Transport had taken this step “following a long period in which it has been facing significant financial problems”.

The council said the operator’s trading environment “has become more difficult” in recent years and attempts to put it on a stronger, more sustainable footing had been unsuccessful.

Halton Transport losses have been locally reported as reaching £620,000 in 2019 and it was legally required to operate on a commercial basis in competition with other operators.

A Halton statement said: “It is widely known that the council, like all other local authorities, has had significant reductions in its budget and therefore has to make difficult choices as to how best to utilise the resources it has. 

“These are, by their nature, very difficult choices. In this instance its ability to support a commercial operation like Halton Transport is limited.”

Most Halton Transport routes have been taken over by other operators, most by Arriva though some have gone to the neighbouring council-owned operator Warrington’s Own Buses.

Few municipal bus operators still exist. The largest ones are Edinburgh, Nottingham, Reading and Blackpool.

Mark Smulian