BUS company Stagecoach has sold its Huddersfield operations, the Express and Chronicle can reveal.
But passengers will be surprised to hear that the new operator is little known company Centrebus and not Arriva, as was initially thought.
And in a further twist, Centrebus revealed that it had also snapped up Honley based K-Line buses, a major operator in the Kirklees area and provider of the Huddersfield centre free town bus.
No one from K-Line was willing to talk to the E&C but Centrebus director Julian Peddle said nothing would change in the short term and it would be “business as usual”.
Mr Peddle also confirmed that Centrebus had been involved in the negotations from the start although he did admit that Arriva held a 40% stake in the company.
None of the bus companies involved could explain why earlier reports had only mentioned interest from Arriva. And after Arriva lodged an application with the Government’s Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in March, to use Stagecoach’s depot at Wakefield Road, Waterloo, as an operating centre for 35 vehicles, it had looked like the sale was a done deal.
Arriva spokesman, Francis King, admitted they had been involved in negotiations to buy Stagecoach’s depot but said that in the end Centrebus had successfully taken over the service.
Mr King also confirmed that Arriva had a minority holding in Centrebus, but would not say if Arriva had been acting as a negotiator on behalf of Centrebus: “We were in discussions about purchasing the garage there but the Huddersfield operations are not part of the Arriva Yorkshire business.”
A Stagecoach spokesman verified the deal: “I can confirm that Stagecoach has exchanged contracts to sell its Huddersfield bus operation to Huddersfield Bus Company Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrebus Holdings Ltd. The operations transferred to the new owners at midnight on Sunday, April 27.
“We are proud to have served our customers in Huddersfield for a number of years, providing them with an important network of bus services and supporting dozens of local jobs.
“We would also like to thank our team of drivers, engineers, supervisors and cleaners who have worked extremely hard to provide a consistent, high-quality service to our customers and we wish them well for the future under their new management.”
Leicester based Centrebus runs buses in Grantham, Stockport, Stevenage, Luton and Leicester so the £3m acquisition of two Huddersfield based services is the company’s first venture into the north.
Mr Peddle said: “The buses will be branded ‘The Huddersfield Bus Company’ and the conversions are underway this week.”
He added that there were no plans to change any of the services and said he thought most of the criticisms aimed at Stagecoach’s services had been overcome before the sale went through.
Denby Dale ward councillor, Elaine Ward, who has been pushing for improved services, said she had no knowledge of Centrebus being involved in the buy out.
She added: “It doesn’t matter who it is as long as they deliver the services.I hope the buses they have bought will be thoroughly overhauled to stop them breaking down as much as Stagecoach’s did.”