ICONIC Cape Town bus service operator Golden Arrow – which is part of the Hosken Passenger Logistics and Rail group (HPLR) – has not been stalled by the debilitating effects of a stagnant economy as well as the early close of schools and the COVID-19 lockdown in March.
HPLR CEO Francois Meyer said in the year to end March overall passenger volumes showed only a relatively marginal decline. “This was in part mitigated by the uptake of commuters from the dysfunctional rail service and the contraction of the MyCiTi service.”
He stressed management’s philosophy to be obsessed with the quality of service and ruthless in finding efficiencies continued to have a positive effect on results.
Meyer specifically highlighted that the innovative utilisation of information stemming from Golden arrow’s Automated Fare Collection system enhanced the efficient utilisation of assets. He added that the installation of fuel saving electronics on buses yielded positive results on fuel consumption.
Positive returns on energy saving initiatives were also realised, Meyer, noted, after the first phase of solar installations.
Interestingly, Golden Arrow is now testing the feasibility of using electrically powered vehicles under current operating conditions.
Meyer said that during the new financial year, the focus of HLPR would be on effectively navigating its companies through the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the group’s bus services had been designated as essential services during the lockdown period – and all companies, except for Eljosa Travel and Tours, had been able to operate limited bus services during the lockdown.
“This will present both challenges and opportunities as operations will have to be adjusted commensurate with demand and the alignment to regulations.”
In the year to end March, HLPR – which earns the bulk of its keep from Golden Arrow – increased group profit 7% to R263 million. Revenue was driven up 15% to over R2 billion.
While these results are solid enough (under difficult circumstances), it is worth noting, though, that the prior year comparative results were predominantly affected by a five-week labour strike in the first quarter of the 2019 financial year.