The Skiers Lodge Limited
[renamed Transervis Limited from Jan 2019]
Express Airport Transfers (Europe) Limited
TSL (Wales) Limited
The main company behind the brand names easyBus and easyCoach was 'The Skiers Lodge Limited' (since renamed to Transervis Limited) and the sole Director was Andrew Martin. He first started his association with the 'easy' brand with a French company SARL Chamexpress, where in 2014 he started operating easyBus services between Geneva Airport and Chamonix. This company was sold in 2018 to ALSA which is part of the National Express Group.
The 'easy' brand is actually owned by easyGroup Limited which is the private investment vehicle of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. He is best known for creating easyJet in 1995 when he was just 28 years old. easyJet was floated on the Stock Exchange and he and his family are still significant shareholders. Sir Stelios retained ownership of the brand name 'easy', (including easyJet) which has now been extended and licensed to many other sectors. These include: easyHotel, easyCar, easyVan and many more. It is believed in the case of easyCoach that the licence fee was 8% of the revenue of the company.
In October 2016 Andrew Martin launched the easyBus brand locally when through his companies they started providing a low cost airport transfer service from Telford via Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Wrexham to Manchester Airport. From January 2018 the service was varied to start in Shrewsbury. From May 2018 journeys from Chester to Liverpool Airport were added to the easyBus workings and passengers were able to transfer at Chester to/from Wrexham, Oswestry or Shrewsbury.
In 2017 the 'easy' branding was extended to easyCoach and two coaches, Jonckheere NK07YFU and Van Hool IEZ1315, were acquired and made available for private hire. In April 2017 the Local Authority contract to provide the 64 Llangollen to Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog service was won and operated under the easyCoach branding. Two vehicles initially used for this service, Dart SJ53AWX and Cadet CB54BUS were named after the two ladies of Llangollen - 'Sarah Ponsonby' and 'Eleanor Butler'.
In the summer of 2017 the company tendered for a number of Shropshire services. To facilitate this a fleet of nine '05' and '56' plated ex Go-Ahead Optare Tempos were acquired. However only the 101 - Bridgnorth Town service and the 436 Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth services were won. This latter service started in September 2017 but ceased in December 2017. Two commercial services were also operated in Shrewsbury (24 and 28 Shrewsbury local services) but these stopped after a short period apparently due to driver shortages.
In April 2018 the business won the contract to provide the enquiry / information facility at the Wrexham Bus Station.
In June 2018 four new commercial services were registered.
The 2 - Wrexham to Oswestry service was to involve two vehicles with an hourly frequency.
The 2D - Wrexham to Cefn Mawr also utilised two vehicles with a half hour frequency.
The 42 - Wrexham (King Street) to Wrexham Industrial Estate had one vehicle working an hourly frequency and the
44 - Wrexham (King Street) to Wrexham (Barkers Lane) had one vehicle working a half hour frequency.
To provide these service the business leased a depot in Rhosymedre which was painted orange to match the 'easy' branding.
Prior to the service commencing and following press releases various articles appeared in both the trade and local press with statements "Having just one dominant operator isn’t great for the consumer, so we saw an opening for an innovative brand that would bring a breath of fresh air to the town. The philosophy of the easyGroup is very much about taking on the big boys. We know from feedback in Wrexham that passengers feel they deserve more, and through cheaper fares and better service, easyCoach is well-placed to provide it.”
Smart individual timetables were prepared for the service. It became apparent that the Oswestry service was planned to depart from both Wrexham and Oswestry five minutes ahead of the rival Arriva Midlands service but the waiting time at Wrexham was to be only two minutes. The 2D service was designed to leave Wrexham two minutes ahead of the Arriva Midlands 2C service and at the other end to leave five minutes ahead of the competitor. The timings on this 2D service was such that there was absolutely no waiting time at either Wrexham or Cefn Mawr.
The services provided by easyCoach were introduced over a number of days with all of the services operating by 29th June 2018.
During July and August it became apparent that the firm had difficulty with operating their services. Issues included failure to keep to their own timetable and not having sufficient vehicles mainly due to breakdowns such that a number of journeys did not occur. Whilst it appeared that the travelling public had initially welcomed the arrival of the competitor to the established service provider, Arriva, but after a short period of time the unreliability of the service resulted in customers avoiding the new company. Loadings on the Arriva Midlands services to Cefn Mawr and Oswestry were observed to be vastly higher that those on the easyCoach buses.This had a major effect on revenue. Over the weeks the failures to provide buses for journeys increased. This also applied to the established 64 Llangollen to Ceiriog valley service.
In August 2018 the company gave short notice to the Traffic Commissioner that with effect from 9th September ALL of their services were to be de-registered including their airport service and the 101 Bridgnorth local service.
In effect the company ceased operations on 9th September 2018.
On 4th October 2018 the Traffic Commissioner held a Public Inquiry into matters associated with the companies trading as easyCoach and easyBus. The Inquiry heard evidence from two D.V.S.A. Officers which indicated a catalogue of maintenance issues, including an incident where a wheel fell off a vehicle travelling on the A483. There was also details given suggesting that the depot at Rhosymedre was not properly included in the licence to operate the business. Evidence was also given by a Compliance Officer of Bus Users (Wales) that between 17th July and 8th September she found 14% of journeys to be late and 29% failed to operate. The Traffic Commissioner was also concerned at the short notice given to cease the services.
The written decision of the Traffic Commissioner was issued in February 2019 and it concluded that the operator’s licence was to be revoked. The company being disqualified from holding or applying for an operator’s licence for an indefinite period. Andrew Martin lost his 'repute' as a transport manager and was disqualified from applying for or holding an operator’s licence anywhere in the EU until he re-qualifies by passing fresh examinations.
The full written decision by the Traffic Commissioner can be found <HERE>
An appeal to the Upper Tribunal upheld the decision of the Traffic Commissioner to revoke the licences.
Following the cessation of the services the depot at Shrewsbury was closed and all vehicles initially brought to Rhosymedre. Over a period of time they have now mostly been disposed of.
HISTORIC FLEET LIST
The table below gives a list of all recorded vehicles known to have been with this operator. I am indebted to David Donati for his dedicated work in compiling this data and enabling me to present it.
In the right hand column - where available - there is a link to a photograph of the vehicle. The photo will open in a new window. Links in CAPITAL LETTERS suggest the vehicle is seen when with the operator.
Chassis and body numbers are to be found on the right hand side of the table below. You may need to scroll to see them.
© Ron Hughes and David Donati - any reproduction should give credit to the originator and may require permission.