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• Avon-based Badgerline has become the second National Bus Company local subsidiary to be bought by its own management under the current privatisation programme.
The successful buy-out — for an undisclosed sum — of the 400-vehicle company has been led by managing director Trevor Smallwood. He now becomes chairman of the new company.
The rest of Badgerline's 950 drivers, maintenance and clerical staff will also have the chance to take part in a share incentive scheme in the near future.
Badgerline provides a wideranging network of local bus and coach services in and around Bath, Bristol, Avon and Somerset, as well as in parts of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. It also runs inter-city coach services to London under the National Express banner.
The company was one of the first in the UK to introduce the urban minibus concept, when Weston-superMare's town bus services were replaced by minibus routes in June 1985. It now runs 150 minibuses in some 20 towns.
Badgerline is the third NBC subsidiary to be sold under the privatisation programme set in motion by the 1985 Transport Act, and the second to be bought by its own management — the first was Exeterbased Devon General. The Government wants the management and employees of the NBC companies to have the opportunity to take a controlling stake in the equity as each of the 70 state-owned subsidiaries is privatised.
As well as being under new management, Badgerline will also face the challenges of a new operating environment at the end of October, when Britain's local bus services are deregulated and the present route licensing system is replaced by free competition.