News that the last UK-owned bus manufacturer, Ballymena-based Wrightbus, has gone into administration this week, has sent shockwaves through the British bus industry. For over 70 years, the company founded by Robert Wright was a pioneer in bus manufacture. Innovations included the development of the first low-floor bus and the first hybrid-electric double-decker. A statement from the Wright family, which still ran the business, said: “global changes from diesel to electric in bus technology have caused a sharp decline in demand for buses in the UK”.
The UK has traditionally been Wrightbus’s biggest market but it has been contracting for over two years. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that in the second quarter of this year new bus and coach registrations were down 30% compared to the same period last year. This marked the tenth quarter in a row that new registrations declined.
Despite the company’s failure, Wrightbus vehicles remain in widespread use across the UK with most of the major operators having either the Streetlite (single deck) or Streetdeck (double) within their fleets. In London, Wrightbus developed the new Routemaster for operation by Transport for London, which took to the capital’s streets in 2012.
In its role as a leading distributor of OEM parts for the bus and coach sector, Imperial Engineering has built up significant expertise working with Wrightbus vehicles over the years. Many of its models included Hydrovane products, which are well understood by Imperial. Many items are held in stock and the company is on hand to offer advice and support to operators.,
John Dwight, Imperial Engineering’s Sales Director, said:
“All of us at Imperial are saddened at this regrettable news and we would like to offer our sympathy to all the staff who’ve been made redundant. Wrightbus was a globally respected bus manufacturer and its development of the new generation Routemaster was a crowning moment in its history. Moving forward, we will ensure that we do our part in supporting operators across the UK to keep Wrightbus vehicles in service, by supplying them with the highest quality bus parts and components.”