The takeover pace may have slackened but, for industry watchers, there’s still plenty of interest. We heard officially yesterday, for example, that Go Ahead’s added Norfolk operator Konectbus to its 3,500 vehicle portfolio.
At one level, Konectbus fits well with Go Ahead’ philosophy because it:
- Is well run, meeting targets daily
- Has a contemporary, modern brand and image
- Ensures its buses are well presented
- Uses individual and appealing publicity
- Has an average fleet age of under is 8 years, to reduce to 7 with an imminent new intake
- Is an award winner (and runner up in the most recent Oscars).
And here’s the key for, at another level and without expansion, Konectbus is a poor fit. At 39 vehicles, it’s 0.1 per cent of Go Ahead’s bus business. It’s very isolated from other Go Ahead units (though the long-winded ‘exclusive negotiations’ may yet result in Go Ahead assuming a 49 per cent stake in near-ish Ipswich Buses). Neither is Konectbus an urban operator, as Go Ahead prefers. It does operate some Norwich city services plus two Norwich park & rides, with a third on the way (requiring PVR6, being Enviro400s).
In just a couple of weeks, First hands over its Harford park & ride to KonectbusFirst Eastern Counties (and Eastern National) must be looking on slightly nervously at the actual and possible Go Ahead incursions into its patch. Like neighbour Norfolk Green, Konectbus has already managed to carve for itself a good living on the back of those services First doesn’t want. This includes most of the bus services in and around Dereham though, here, First has begun something of a fight back. Many of Konectbus services nevertheless run hourly, on the likes of former Eastern Counties’ 434, 825/7 and 834/5. It’s also developed its market, with new links, faster services and some leather interiors.
A recent visit to Norwich demonstrated that Konectbus did let itself down at the time, over a lack of bus timetables, though.