Veolia Transport Welsh bus fears as firm 'restructures'

The head of a major bus company says he is looking at "restructuring" in Wales as one council seeks talks on the future of its services.

John O'Brien, chief executive of Veolia Transport, says it is looking at its viability on a depot by depot basis.

The firm employs 450 people in Wales and staff are being kept informed, he said.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said it was seeking an update on the firm's plans and the potential impact on services.

According to its website, French-owned Veolia Transport has depots in mid and south Wales, at Crossgates near Llandrindod Wells, Abercrave and Penclawdd in Swansea, Treforest and Newport.

As well as Rhondda Cynon Taf it also has contracts with Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, Caerphilly, and Neath councils.

Mr O'Brien told BBC Wales the restructuring exercise was necessary because of changes in the business.

Due to the high level of competition in the market the firm needed to come up with a fresh business model, he said.

On the Penclawdd depot Mr O'Brien said the company had received notice of termination of its service from Swansea council.

This affected a number of routes, but he could not give any figures.

But Swansea council said it was "surprised and disappointed" that Veolia decided to end its contracts with the council.

Swansea said it had told Veolia in February that it might end its contracts, but had made it clear it would withdraw that notice on as many as possible once it knew its budget.

But the council said the company appeared not to have waited for that. Swansea said in fact only one contract worth just over £5,000 would have been ended, while all Veolia's local business was valued at about £400,000.

Swansea council said: "However, following Veolia's business decision, we are in the process of re-tendering for the remaining eight contracts".

'Service provision'

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said it was "aware of speculation regarding Veolia Transport and is currently seeking a formal update from Veolia on its plans for the future and the potential impact this may have on bus services within RCT".

It added: "Until it has had this official information, the authority is not in a position to comment upon how any decision Veolia may make may affect service provision.

"However, the council can confirm that Veolia does not operate any home to school transport contracts in the county borough, so this area of service will be unaffected by any potential changes."

The statement said current legislation required bus operators to formally notify the traffic commissioner of any changes to bus services at least 56 days before changes were made.

At the present time no notification of changes affecting Veolia's bus services in RCT had been received.

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