Arriva Kent and Surrey has announced plans to close its Guildford depot. The group says that its business there “has unfortunately experienced ongoing decline in passenger numbers over recent years” and adds that despite efforts to achieve efficiencies, the operation “is no longer sustainable.”
Arriva currently operates around 45 buses in the town, which a source says is a “much reduced” figure compared to previous years because of contract losses and the deregistration of some commercial services.
The Hants and Surrey Bus Blog has reported that since the onset of the pandemic, the most modern vehicles at Guildford have been moved elsewhere and replaced by older examples. A similar practice was undertaken at Arriva Midlands’ Cannock depot before it was sold to Centrebus subsidiary D&G Bus in November 2020. However, it has been suggested that the Guildford site has significant value for residential development.
In recent years Arriva has engaged in competition with both Safeguard Coaches and Stagecoach in Guildford, some of which is ongoing. In late 2018 local media sources reported that Arriva’s depot in the town was not profitable and that the group intended to re-employ drivers on revised contracts.
Arriva says it is now engaging with employees at Guildford and their representatives as it looks to redeploy as many people as possible.
“Decisions like this are extremely difficult and are not taken lightly,” a spokesperson for Arriva UK Bus says. They add that patronage decline commenced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Arriva will be offering every support to our Guildford employees, and we continue to work closely with Surrey County Council to explore alternative options, which could safeguard services for the local community.”