Regional bus merger completed

PUBLIC transport group First has merged its bus operations across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk into a single business.


PUBLIC transport group First has merged its bus operations across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk into a single business.

The merger, outlined in a consultation in February, sees the First Essex and First Eastern Counties join forces to create a business with around 680 vehicles and more than 2,000 member of staff.

The new business, to be known as First East England, will be led by managing director Alan Pilbeam, who was recent appointed to the same role at Eastern Counties.

Joining him on the board of the new business are: finance director Jacky Cato and engineering director Steve Little, who previously held the equivalent roles at the Essex business, and commercial and customers service director Steve Wickers, formerly finance director at Eastern Counties.

Nicola Shaw, managing director of First UK Bus, said: “This is our latest step in improving efficiencies and minimising duplication across the business in the current environment, taking account of concerns from our passengers about the cost of travel.

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“Alan and his new team will now get to work to merge the administrative functions of the former companies over the next few months in consultation with the trades union and the staff involved, ensuring we continue to deliver for our passengers as efficiently as possible.”

Alan Pilbeam added: “There are exciting challenges ahead for us and I look forward to working with the new team and staff right across our area to drive the business forward this year and beyond, building on the successes and achievements that the former companies attained.”

Besides the board directors, the executive management team of First East England will also include Bob Taylor (formerly Eastern Counties engineering director) as area engineering director (Essex), and Colin Booth (formerly Eastern Counties operations director) as service delivery director (Norfolk).

Former Essex managing director Bob Dorr has moved to First UK Bus's central commercial team, where he will manage a number of major projects - both nationally and internationally - while former Essex operations director Duncan Cameron was recently appointed operations director with First in Aberdeen.

Although the new business will be known as First East England, the names of First Essex Buses Ltd and First Eastern Counties Ltd will be retained as legal entities and operators' licence holders.