BrightBus drivers launch bid to save axed South Yorkshire service that serves 15,000

The BrightBus fleet has transported thousands of children a day to and from school across South Yorkshire and part of Worksop for nearly 20 years.
The BrightBus fleet has transported thousands of children a day to and from school across South Yorkshire and part of Worksop for nearly 20 years.

Bus drivers working on a vital bus service that transports 15,000 South Yorkshire passengers a day say they want to stop the service from being axed in the summer by forming a co-operative.

The BrightBus fleet has transported thousands of children a day to and from school across South Yorkshire and part of Worksop for nearly 20 years.

The BrightBus fleet has transported thousands of children a day to and from school across South Yorkshire and part of Worksop for nearly 20 years.

The BrightBus fleet has transported thousands of children a day to and from school across South Yorkshire and part of Worksop for nearly 20 years.

Earlier this week it was announced that managing director Mick Strafford would be closing the firm at the end of the academic year in July due to his own 'ill health'

But now a group of the some 90 drivers facing losing their jobs with the closure of BrightBus say they are considering a number of options including forming a co-operative to save the service.

In a post made on the Save BrightBus Facebook, a spokesman for the collective of drivers said: "An option is that we, employees of Brightbus, attempt to takeover the business by buying it from him and reforming the business as a co-operative.

"An employee owned business.

A BrightBus pulls up outside a Sheffield school

A BrightBus pulls up outside a Sheffield school

"We have other ideas at the moment but these will be very difficult to achieve.

"Personally we would like to form the co-operative. This will keep the business going as close to it is as we can."

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Plans under way to replace axed bus service that serves 15, 000 a day in South Yorkshire

Commenting on how the group intend to action their plan, the spokesman added: "We would chat with the officials about what we want to do and how we would go about it.

There is a government scheme that helps with situations like this where the Managing Director is closing the company down due to retirement or ill health.

"We would need to prove that the closing of the company will have a huge impact on the local area.

"That bit we can easily prove with your support.

"We would also need to prove that the business is making a profit. According to Mick Strafford it is making a good profit. We don't know how much as yet."

"Write to your local MPs saying how much losing Brightbus will affect you and your community.

"Tell them that you want us to keep going, taking your children to and from school.

"This isn't just about jobs. It's about getting the children to and from school safely."

The South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive told The Star earlier this week that councils and schools are already working with Mr Strafford to look at ways of replacing the lost services.

Ben Gilligan, director of public transport, said: “We are already working closely with schools and local authorities to help minimise the impact of BrightBus’ announced closure.

"At this early stage, this means looking at current journeys and beginning to identify alternative arrangements for affected services with other commercial bus operators.

"“We are committed to keeping parents and pupils informed, and will provide schools with service information as soon as arrangements can be put in place."

BrightBus, which also goes under the name MAS Special Engineering Ltd, was formed in 1998 and operates out of a depot in North Anston.

Their fleet of about 60 brightly green-coloured buses - some of which have been imported from Hong Kong - will be well known to many.

The buses serve more than 30 schools across the area.

When the company was at its most successful about two years ago it transported around 2.5 million passengers a year. BrightBus specialises in providing direct services for children who may have to catch two different buses or more on the usual transport network.

A number of parents have now spoken of their concern that their kids may struggle to get to and from school.

Jodie Myles said: "It is a lifeline to so many kids."

Sarah Swift added: "What about all the children that rely on these buses?"

Mr Strafford, aged 55, of Thorpe Salvin, said the firm is not in financial difficulty and is closing after he had a couple of undisclosed health problems.

He added: "I've been involved in the industry for 30 years and I don't think it always works when another company comes in and takes over."

He added staff would be offered redundancy packages and he would work hard to find them new jobs.