06 September 2008

Go Ahead's profits

An article in the Financial Times states that Go Ahead's pre-tax profits are up 8.8%, to £103.1 million. The firm's finance director said, quite rightly, that the reason is simple: more people are using our services. I'm fine with that.

The start of the article claims that this is as a result of "commuters abandoning their cars for cheaper public transport", yet this was never expanded, presumably as the in-depth figures were not there. At the risk of getting political again, I'm sure there are occasions where commuters do decide to leave their cars at home in favour of the bus, but simply not on the scale that we're seeing claimed.

Revenue rose 20.4% across Go Ahead's bus, rail and aviation divisions, which can be broken down as a 7% passenger increase in two of the firm's rail franchises: Southern and Southeastern; and bus operations saw up to 4.9% increase. However restructuring was needed with £8m being spent on aviation interests and an £8.4 million loss for the "underperforming" Go West Midlands bus fleet.

The FT is a paper concerned with financial figures over modal swings for commuters, though that said at least a 'guestimation' of those who are abandoning their cars in favour of Go Ahead's bus services would have been nice.

It should be pointed out that it was the FT who claimed that people were leaving their cars for Go Ahead, not the company itself. I should also point out that Go Ahead's figures, released hot-on-the-heels for those of Stagecoach and Arriva, are very encouraging indeed; if public transport can weather the current financial climate then perhaps masses of people really will start to leave their cars at home, despite their bus/train journey to work not being free.