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|Headquarters||61 Marlow Street, Walsall|
|Service type||bus service, coach, taxi|
|Alliance||Network West Midlands|
A2Z Travel was a diversified transportation company operating mainly in the Walsall and Wolverhampton areas of the West Midlands in west central England. The company also provided some bus services in South Staffordshire and Birmingham. The company, which started in the taxi business in 1998, expanded into minibus and coach service in 2003 and in 2005 began providing local bus services.
They operated a variety of buses on numerous commercial and subsidised services as part of Network West Midlands.
They ceased operating after 31 March 2009, following the revocation of their licence by the West Midlands Transport Commissioner and several failed appeals. The company then went into administration a few days later.
A2Z Travel started bus operations using two Dennis Lance step-entrance single deck buses and a Dennis Dart. Over time more Dennis Darts appeared, followed by fifteen Leyland Olympian double deck buses. These buses were withdrawn in December 2007, and replaced by more Darts and Lances. This fleet continued to be used until the company ceased its operations.
Below is a list of the bus routes operated by A2Z Travel at the time it ceased operations:
|Route||Starting Point||Terminating Point|
|303||Bilston||County Bridge Estate|
|322||Walsall||The Paddocks/The Butts|
|341E||Walsall||Coppic Farm Way|
|680||Moxley||Lower Bradley Circular|
Blue Squares = Denotes this service was subsidised by either the South Staffordshire County Council or the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (Centro).
It should be noted that 75% of the services operated by A2Z Travel were on a subsidised basis.
In November 2007, a VOSA inspection at A2Z Travel found that 11 buses had defects. A2Z immediately took these vehicles off the road and withdrew them from service (these buses being Leyland Olympian double deckers). However, in January 2008, another VOSA inspection found a further 5 buses to be unfit for operation. For this matter the company was fined over £19,000.
In October 2008, it was reported in the Express & Star newspaper that the company had had its licence revoked with immediate effect by the West Midlands Traffic Commissioner. However, A2Z decided to appeal, and as such the company continued to operate until their appeal process ended on 31 March 2009. The report revealed damning claims about the company including:
- A check on the running of its service revealed that of 692 buses checked, 513 (nearly 75%) were either running early, late or did not turn up at all.
- The Company Director, Sarfaiz Ali, was criticised for lacking management control of the business.
- The Company Transport Manager, Shahzad Ali, was criticised for failing to maintain a roadworthy fleet of vehicles despite promises to VOSA.
Despite this, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, Centro, continued to allow the company to win contracts to operate new subsidised services in the area.
Transport Tribunal appeal
A2Z Travel were unsuccessful in overturning the decision made by the West Midlands Transport Commissioner and ordered to stop operating all of their services from 31 March 2009.
Shahzad Ali revealed through the Express & Star Newspaper on the 14 January 2009, that the company was seeking further legal advice. He also revealed the company was considering appealing to the House of Lords.
However, despite these efforts the company did not survive. After a round of emergency tendering for the remaining services was organised by Centro on 30 March 2009, A2Z Travel ceased to operate after 31 March.
Choice Travel deal
In late March 2009, and with closure imminent, A2Z Travel reached a deal with Choice Travel, a similarly sized company based in nearby Wednesfield. The deal saw Choice take on a number of A2Z's routes and fifteen of A2Z's buses.