Profit up at transport firm

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SOUTH Yorkshire bus and train operator First Group has announced a 5.9 per cent rise in pre-tax profits in its financial results for 2010/11.

The firm, which runs buses across the county, plus the Trans Pennine Express rail franchise serving Sheffield and Doncaster, revealed turnover had increased by £139.4 million to £744.1 million – generating pre-tax profit of £275 million, compared with £259.7 million in 2009/10.

Chief executive Tim O’Toole said: “The group has market leading positions in a sector that is a key enabler of economic growth.”

In its statement to the city, the firm said its introduction of a 50p student ticket on services in Sheffield had ‘helped increase passenger numbers’.

Over the coming year, South Yorkshire will benefit from some of 1,000 new buses being deployed across the UK by First after an investment of £160m - and simplified fares, trialled in Leeds, are also set to be introduced across its UK bus operations.

At the First TransPennine Express rail firm, the company said passenger revenue increased 7.7 per cent during 2010/11.

It added that since the start of the franchise in February 2004, punctuality and reliability has increased from 85 per cent to over 91 per cent, customer satisfaction has increased from 74 per cent to 87 per cent and passenger numbers have increased by 85 per cent to some 24 million a year.

The company won Passenger Operator of the Year at the National Rail Awards last year.