GHA Coaches

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GHA Coaches
GHA Coaches logo.png
L94 AA05GHA -1- MOEL FAMAU.JPG
Irizar Century bodied Scania K94IB in September 2009
Slogan A Service Second To None or Gwasanaeth heb ei ail
Parent Eifion Lloyd Davies
Founded 1990
Ceased operation July 2016
Headquarters Ruabon
Service area Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Gwynedd, Merseyside
Service type Bus & coach services
Hubs Corwen, Middlewich, Ruthin, Tarvin, Wrexham
Fleet 257 (October 2013)
Website www.ghacoaches.co.uk
Logo used from 2008-15
Marshall bodied Mercedes-Benz 709D in Wrexham in March 2009
Vale Travel Wright Handybus bodied Dennis Dart in Wrexham in March 2009

GHA Coaches[1] was a bus and coach operator serving North East Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire. It also operated bus services extending into Telford & Wrekin, Staffordshire, Gwynedd and Merseyside.

GHA Coaches ceased trading after entering administration on 13 July 2016.[2] Former GHA services are now operated by a variety of operators including Arriva North West, Stagecoach, High Peak and D&G Bus.

History[edit]

GHA Coaches was founded by Eifion Lloyd Davies in 1990 and originally based in Corwen before moving to Ruabon in the mid-1990s. It later expanded with the purchase of a number of other local companies, including:[3]

Despite being founded in north east Wales, only about half of the bus services run by the company at the time of closure were in this area. Services extended as far north as Manchester and Rhyl, to Hanley and Telford in the east, to Shrewsbury in the south and to Barmouth in the west.

Coach operations[edit]

Many coaches were inherited with the purchase of Hanmers Coaches, though as with the bus operations, the coach fleet expanded rapidly. Most coaches carried a livery of silver with red and burgundy stripes and the GHA Coaches name; some were in a similar livery with a white base and the Vale Travel name; some carried a plain yellow livery for school work.

The most common use for the coach fleet was school transport, and GHA had a number of high-capacity coaches dedicated to this work. Coaches were also used for private hire and occasional day trip and holiday work.

Depots[edit]

GHA's headquarters were at Ruabon. Other depots were at Tarvin, Ruthin, Shrewsbury and Winsford. Vehicles also operated an outstation at Betws Gwerfil Goch.

Fleet[edit]

As at June 2015 the fleet consisted of 325 buses and coaches.[4]

GHA Gold[edit]

In October 2014 GHA launched a 'GHA Gold' brand on the 88 Knutsford to Wilmslow to Altrincham route. They acquired four new Alexander Dennis Enviro200 buses which have WiFi, leather seats, wood effect flooring, a passenger information system and one table on each bus. These vehicles carried branding for the route.[5][6] They were funded by Waters Corporation as part of a public transport commitment in order for them to get planning permission for building a new large employment site just outside Morley Green. Two of the buses are now owned and operated by Redline buses of Aylesbury who kept the Gold service branding, using them on their service 21 in and around Milton Keynes.

GHA went on to launch a second Gold route between Congleton and Crewe the following year.

Bus Wars[edit]

Following GHA taking over a couple of bus routes in the Northwich area they launched an hourly 45 Northwich to Warrington service running 5 minutes ahead of an existing hourly service operated by Network Warrington, followed by a 16 service between Warrington and Dallam again running just ahead of an existing Network Warrington service. Two new Optare Metrocity buses were acquired to operate the Warrington services.[7] The bus war led to constant timetable changes by both operators and eventually Network Warrington deciding to route all their Northwich to Warrington services via Barnton.[8] At times GHA drivers were known to block bus stands to prevent Network Warrington drivers picking up passengers, which on occasions led to angry exchanges between drivers and on one occasion a GHA driver committed a physical assault on a Network Warrington driver for which he received a suspended jail term.[9]

Another bus war was launched against Nantwich based Routemaster Buses who had started a C82 service between Chester and Crewe after Arriva had reduced their 82 service between Chester and Crewe to hourly from half-hourly. The operations manager of GHA accused Routemaster of invading 'their territory' in a Facebook post and they launched a rival 82 service running 2 minutes ahead of the Routemaster Buses service.

Administration[edit]

After GHA failed to pay almost £1m in taxes, HMRC took out a court order against GHA placing the company in to administration. The administrators found the company had debts of £5.3m, meaning there was no viable way to keep the business going meaning operations were suspended on the evening of 13 July 2016 and assets of the company were put up for sale in order to recover as much of the debts as possible.[10][11]

Gareth Lloyd Davies and Arwyn Lloyd Davies set up a new operation using an 'RJs of Wem' operating licence they had acquired following GHA Coaches' acquisition of Shropshire Bus and Coach and started operating some former GHA routes in the Wrexham area. However, at a public inquiry the Traffic Commissioner banned the two Lloyd-Davies brothers from any involvement in any bus companies. This led to Sally Ann Lloyd Davies (Gareth's wife) taking over the new operation [12] However, at a separate public inquiry the Traffic Commissioner revoked the licence belonging to RJs of Wem with effect from 19 December 2016.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]