Padarn Bus operates in North Wales, providing local bus services connecting Caernarfon, Bangor and Llangefni, Anglesey.
Private hire work includes school runs and the company also operates the park and ride service for tourists visiting Snowdonia.
Currently the Padarn ﬂeet comprises 49 vehicles, eight of these are touring coaches and the remainder are dedicated to local bus service operations. Typically a number of these include rural routes which are sponsored by the Gwynedd County Council.
“Without this funding from the local authority, services to more remote areas would not be viable on a commercial basis.” explains operations director, Darren Charles Price.
“But like all businesses operating in a competitive environment, we need fuel usage data, quickly to work out precise costing. So if there is a problem I want to know immediately.”
“The Bus Service Operator Grants are based on the mileage and costs associated with speciﬁc routes. We receive an annual advance payment based on an estimate and then this has to be reconciled against the actual mileage and costs incurred retrospectively over each reporting period.”
Darren Continues: “The administration for the grant involves detailed returns on the mileage and amount of fuel used for each vehicle used on the route. As we have expanded our operations, this ofﬁce work has become even more time consuming.”
“We have simpliﬁed this administration by upgrading the fuelling point with the installation of a Merridale diesel pump with integrated monitor and the associated fuel management reporting system.
“Every vehicle fuelling transaction is now recorded automatically on the ofﬁce computer and the Merridale reporting software enables us to relate the cost of the fuel drawn against particular vehicles/routes and the contract or service operation.”
The implementation of the Merridale fuel system was one of several investments made by Padarn Bus following its acquisition in 2009 of the KMP depot and garage facilities at Llanberis. This move was a signiﬁcant expansion for the family business, bringing the ﬂeet up to 38 vehicles. The ﬂeet has continued to grow with four new Optare Solos purchased during 2011 to cover a new contract for Anglesey.
Currently Padarn consumes around 70K litres of diesel a month. As the ﬂeet increases, so does the complexity of cost accounting.
“An effective fuel management system was crucial to operating our business efﬁciently. The previous equipment was becoming unreliable. Reporting facilities were also poor with no way of assigning transactions to speciﬁc vehicles.
“Finding a replacement was an immediate priority. Research included a visit to the UK Bus Expo in 2009 and we were able to see examples of the current fuel management solutions on the market. We also looked at what other bus companies were using and a deciding factor for us was the positive references provided by other users of the Merridale software.
Darren Price concludes saying. Transport is a very competitive business and our reputation is founded on reliability, cleanliness and good customer service. We are supporting this by using social media and our website to provide updates and information. We are also holding regular surgeries, using one of our service vehicles; we park up at the main town centres and invite the public to share their thoughts about how they would like us to improve our services.
Our focus is on local bus services as these are earning daily revenue. Coaches are complementary but either way, in order to sustain our business, we must have a clear understanding of our operational costs and proﬁtability.