Knutsford Express posts $17-m profit, happy with new leg of Highway 2000

Knutsford Express posts $17-m profit, happy with new leg of Highway 2000

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter

Friday, October 10, 2014

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LUXURY bus company Knutsford Express has voiced approval of the Mount Rosser bypass of Highway 2000 amid posting $17.1 million in profit, or 20 per cent higher than year-earlier levels.

The company also expanded the number of departures on offer while increasing travel options to passengers along the South Coast by 50 per cent.

"The much-anticipated middle phase of the North-South Highway which bypasses the hilly and windy Mount Rosser roadway opened. This has allowed for a reduction in the travel time on the North Coast route and resulted in a more comfortable ride for our passengers," the company said in a joint note prefacing the financial results
signed by directors Oliver Townsend and Anthony Copeland.

"With this reduction in time and with our fleet being improved by the addition of new luxury coaches on that route, our customers will have an even better travelling experience," the directors said.

The Caribbean Business Report was unable to contact the company for further clarification on the benefit of the bypass.

Total revenues hit $103 million, or 30 per cent higher than a year earlier based on increased passengers resulting from the company's expansion of the South Coast route. Cash and equivalents stood at $48.5 million at August compared with $12.8 million a year earlier.

Knutsford Express operates bus routes that connect Jamaica's south-eastern city of Kingston to northern and western parishes. It offers scheduled coach transportation, courier service, private hire, and special-event shuttles.

The company raised just under $100 million through an initial public offer (IPO) of 20 million shares or 20 per cent of the firm last December. The listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange Junior Market allowed the company to qualify for a five-year break on income tax.

The company now has 105 departures weekly and has expanded its reach to Falmouth, Negril, Savanna-la-Mar, and Mandeville, having acquired competitor South Coast Express last year.

It started operations in 2006 with 28 departures weekly between Montego Bay and Kingston.

Earlier this month, the State body, the National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROCC), admitted that use of the recently opened Mount Rosser bypass dipped by more than a third since it started collecting a toll last month.

During the period prior to the toll collection, the road attracted approximately 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles per day, as motorists took advantage of the moratorium implemented to encourage use of the new road. But the numbers fell to 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles per day with the introduction of toll charges.

Toll rates implemented were $200 for Class 1 vehicles (cars), $420 for Class 2 vehicles (SUVs) and $1,000 for trucks.

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