Bus operator could close within months if buyer is not found

The owners of Jim Stones Coaches wish to retire
The owners of Jim Stones Coaches wish to retire

A bus company could cease operating this spring if a new owner cannot be found.

Jim Stones Coaches, which runs several routes and school services in Leigh, is for sale as its owners wish to retire.

But the firm could shut down in April if a buyer does not come forward.

A spokesman said: “We regret to advise that due to their poor health Joan and Jim Stones wish to retire and their business is available for sale until the proposed date of closure, and final day of operation, on Saturday, April 18.

“In addition to this the future of public transport in Greater Manchester is uncertain. Our buses have served Leigh for over 33 years and we must emphasise that we are not going under.

“If a sale is not achieved our drivers will receive their entitlement and we will help them find new jobs.

“We have made Transport for Greater Manchester aware of the situation and will continue to keep them informed of any potential sale or closure of the business so that we can, between us, minimise any impact on our customers.

“Thank you to our brilliant team and wonderful passengers for all your support over the years.”

Jim Stones Coaches operates routes in Leigh, such as to Landside and Tamar, as well as to Lowton and Atherton.

Alison Chew, TfGM’s interim head of bus services, said: “Jim Stones told us he was retiring and intending to sell his bus company, which currently operates three commercial and eight subsidised services across Wigan and Leigh.

“We met with Mr Stones to discuss the matter and will review the impact on passengers and how the commercial bus market and TfGM could potentially intervene.

“Mr Stones has operated a bus company for more than 30 years and has reassured us of his commitment to ensuring his drivers receive redundancy pay and help finding other jobs if a sale is not achieved.”

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is currently looking into how buses are run, with thousands of responses made to a consultation. It could see the authority set routes, frequencies, tickets and standards, while the bus firms run services.