Go-Ahead expects lower profit following city setback

Reduced passenger volumes at the Oxford Bus Company have prompted the parent Go- Ahead Group to lower its profit expectations in the year to 30 June.

Announcing its results for the first half to 31 December, the group says that revenue on its regional buses grew by 0.8% to £25.7million, but a 0.7% fall in passenger numbers was caused by continuing decline at Go North East and a fall in Oxford where ‘retail infrastructure developments in the city centre, due to be completed in October 2017’ — mainly construction of the Westgate shopping centre — have suppressed passenger demand. Oxfordshire County Council now intends to remove buses completely from Queen Street when the new centre opens (Buses last month).

Passenger growth in its other businesses outside London was 0.2%, with an increase in fare-paying passengers offsetting a decline in free concessionary travel. The operating profit margin increased to 13.7%.

Go-Ahead says that while variations exist between different geographical areas, its regional bus revenue has continued to grow. ‘Passenger volumes, while subdued, have outperformed national trends. We believe these trends are partly driven by structural change in the market due to factors such as road congestion and reduced high street footfall, as well as isolated issues in specific areas.’

East Anglia cuts, see p12