First Bus announces proposals to cease all operations in Southampton

  • Proposal to withdraw all CityRed services in Southampton from February 19 2023.  
  • Lower customer numbers post-covid, changes in travel patterns, rising costs and an ultra-competitive city market have led to this difficult decision. 
  • Focus is on supporting colleagues and helping all those affected to find alternative roles within First Bus.  

First Bus has announced its intention to close its bus depot in Southampton and withdraw all of its City Red services in the area with effect from 19 February 2023.

Operations from First South’s depot in Southampton have not been sustainable for some considerable time, and this was only made worse by the impact of the pandemic. 

Despite working hard to turn the business around and the introduction of wide-ranging transformation plans including measures to attract more customers, there simply remains insufficient demand for the number of buses operating in the city’s competitive market.

Engaging with our people and supporting them through this process is an absolute priority for everyone at First Bus. Wherever possible we will identify opportunities to transfer our people to alternative employment within the business including our two depots in the Solent area.

The First Bus South team are currently working with Southampton City Council to ensure a smooth transition and keep disruption to a minimum as we prepare to exit our operations in the city.

Simon Goff, Managing Director for First South said:

“We are extremely disappointed to have to take this decision to close our Southampton depot and withdraw all services from the city.

“The proposals to close the depot should not in any way detract from the commitment of our colleagues in Southampton, who have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible service to the local community against the backdrop one of the most challenging situations ever to face the transport industry.

“This isn’t a process that we have entered into lightly. Lower customer numbers post-covid, rising costs, changes in travel patterns and insufficient demand for the number of buses operating in the city’s competitive market have all added extra pressure. This has led to this difficult decision being taken and meant the business is simply no longer sustainable.

“We will continue to operate our services as usual until 19 February, working closely with our local stakeholders to demonstrate our commitment to continue delivering for our customers for the remainder of our time in service to the Southampton community.”

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Notes to editors

About First Bus 

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. 

We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland. 

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.  

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