OFT to investigate buc firm merger
THE multi-million pound merger of bus firms McGill’s and Arriva Scotland West has been referred to the Competition Commission.
It means the deal brokered by McGill’s, which operates almost 200 buses across routes in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, will be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The transport firm was reported to the OFT by Paisley MPs Douglas Alexander and Jim Sheridan following the successful takeover of Arriva Scotland West services.
The politicians, raised concerns that the company now had a “monopoly” on public transport in the area, and claim they have been inundated with complaints about late services and packed buses since the takeover.
However, bosses at McGill’s who have a depot in Barrhead, told the Paisley Daily Express that the ongoing roadworks at the Whitecart Viaduct on the M8 were to blame for the delays in services.
Last night, OFT senior director, Ali Nikpay, confirmed they would investigate the merger.
He said: “Where local competition exists, the OFT will look carefully at mergers between rivals that have the potential to result in price rises or a reduction in journeys for passengers.
“As such, we believe it is appropriate that the Competition Commission reviews this merger in detail to ensure that the interests of passengers in this part of Scotland are protected.”
Mr Alexander, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said: “I welcome the announcement by the Office of Fair Trading to refer the McGill’s takeover of Arriva to the Competition Commission.
“I wrote to the Office of Fair Trading weeks ago requesting this action in light of the very real concerns within our community about the potential impact of the takeover on local bus service.
“For many local people, these bus services are a crucial lifeline and its vital to avoid a situation where a monopoly leads to routes being slashed and fares being increased.
“We have already seen the negative impact of poor local bus services.
“This announcement represents a real step forward in our local campaign to preserve vital local bus services.”
Mr Sheridan, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, added: “Since the takeover was first announced, I have received a great many calls, letters and e-mails from constituents deeply worried that this takeover would leave only one bus operator in Renfrewshire and that the lack of competition could mean prices will rise and essential routes could be jeopardised.
“One company having a monopoly of routes in the area is not a healthy situation for the travelling public, particularly in an area where travel by bus was the only option for many.”
The Competition Commission is expected to report by October 2.
Last night, no one from McGill’s was available for comment.