Reading Buses has announced cost-saving measures including up to 33 redundancies in various roles across the company. The company says that it has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic which at one point saw customer numbers fall to lower than 10 per cent of normal levels.
With changes to service levels, the use of the furlough scheme and additional government funding, Reading Buses has been able to continue to provide a service for key workers from the start of the pandemic and, as restrictions have been eased, it has increased services to a more-or-less normal pattern today.
However, while customer numbers are growing slowly, the government furlough scheme will come to an end and there is no guarantee that people will return to their old routines, says Robert Williams, Reading Buses’ chief executive officer: “Like many others, we have been constantly using the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe the situation we have found ourselves in. With hugely reduced customer numbers and changes to the way we operate, it has been a difficult period to get through.
“However, the industry as a whole is suffering. Once the pandemic is over and things return to ‘normal’ we expect that some people will continue in their current pattern of using other modes of transport, working from home and internet shopping – all of which will see an ongoing reduction in both customer numbers and revenue.
“If we continue to operate with the same costs whilst waiting for customers to return, it would result in the company no longer being able to survive.”
In addition to 33 redundancies, the company is implementing other cost-cutting measures including a freeze on new recruitment, including apprenticeships, a freeze on investment in new vehicles and new ways of working for existing staff