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HCT Group

  (Redirected from CT Plus)

HCT Group[2] is a social enterprise providing transport services and community services in Bristol, Guernsey, Jersey, London and Yorkshire. It was founded in 1982 as Hackney Community Transport in the London Borough of Hackney to provide transport services for local voluntary organisations, charities and community groups. HCT Group is registered as a company limited by guarantee (and has therefore no shareholders). The company is also a registered charity.[3]

HCT Group
Au Morandarte Flickr CT Plus EO1 on Route 388, Trowbridge Estate (Hackney Wick) (11381089715).jpg
SloganSocial justice and equality for all
HeadquartersOld Street, London[1]
Service area
Service typeBus services
Chief executiveDai Powell

The HCT Group was founded in 1982 and in 2014 had a fleet of 500 vehicles and a turnover of £43.7m[4] and employs over 700 people. In June 2011 it reinvested 37% of annual profits into local community services, its best performance to date. Its chief executive, Dai Powell, joined the social enterprise as a bus cleaner.[5]


CT Plus was founded as a wholly owned trading arm of HCT in 2001, and became a community interest company in 2007.[6][7] The company competes for contracts in the marketplace, and its profits are used by HCT to support community transport or other objectives such as training for the long-term unemployed.[8] In August 2019 the CT Plus brand was dropped with operations brought under the HCT Group banner.

Public services in LondonEdit

Ash Grove (HK)Edit

Optare Solo on route W12 in March 2010

Ash Grove bus garage was CT Plus' first London garage, and is shared with Arriva London. This garage operates 10 routes, including route 26 and route 394.[9]

Walthamstow Avenue (AW)Edit

In November 2016, CT Plus opened a second garage in Walthamstow.[10] As of March 2019, Walthamstow Avenue operates routes 20, 385, 397, W11, W12, W16 and W19.8


In 2001, CT Plus began operating its Transport for London contracted service, route 153.[11] In 2003, it began operating routes 388 and 394.

Other London servicesEdit


As at March 2017, the Transport for London fleet consisted of 120 buses.[15]

Outside LondonEdit

AccessBus in Leeds

HCT also operate a number of community and mainstream bus services outside London. Services include:

West YorkshireEdit

CT plus (Yorkshire) operate from depots in Wakefield and Leeds,[16] with a fleet of around 110 vehicles.[17] The services in Yorkshire consist mostly of West Yorkshire Metro tendered services: AccessBus, a demand responsive transport service providing local transport for those unable to use regular transport;[18] and school buses, including some 'My bus' yellow school bus contracts.[19] A few public routes are operated, around Wakefield, Pontefract and South Elmsall.[20][21] In addition, some private contracts are operated, including two shuttle services for the NHS.[22]


Former operationsEdit

Community transport servicesEdit

Special needs education transport services in Waltham Forest

HCT operates:[35]

  • accessible minibuses for community and voluntary groups
  • 'Capital Call' a door-to-door service provided by Private hire vehicles for users with mobility difficulties
  • 'ScootAbility' mobility scooter home delivery service
  • 'PlusBus' bus service for those who have difficulty accessing mainstream transport
  • 'Door 2 Door' transport service provided by volunteers for Hackney residents
  • 'Integrated Transport Solutions' transport contract management service
  • 'YourCar' a door-to-door service for registered users with mobility difficulties in the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark

Education and trainingEdit

HCT provides education services supported by the Learning and Skills Council and the London Development Agency. The courses include bus driver training, particularly for women; social care and management.[36]

Social enterprise and transportEdit

West Yorkshire Metro My bus school bus service operated by CT Plus in Bingley
An ELC bodied bus on Guernsey in November 2015

The British government has promoted the delivery of public services by not for profit organisations (the third sector).[37] British prime minister David Cameron has stated that he wants more social enterprises running public services as part of his "Big Society".[38]

Charitable legal website Get Legal described HCT's corporate structure as allowing HCT Group to "separate the risks associated with its business in different limited liability vehicles. The social mission of each of those vehicles is protected (either through charitable status or through being CICs) which sends a clear message to the public that the organisation is a social enterprise.[39]

HCT says it aims to "demonstrate and promote the social enterprise business model as a highly effective and socially responsible mechanism", and that it maintains environmental, health and safety and social policies, and regularly measures its performance against these.[40] Profit is seen by company CEO Dai Powell as enabling its social goals: "You have to be an enterprise first, because if you don’t make a profit, you can’t fulfil that social mission.".[41] HCTs commercial services allowed it to invest 18 per cent of its annual profits into non-commercial community transport in 2007/08. Its mission was to increase this to 30 per cent in the subsequent five years.[41]

HCT only competes for contracts that have high levels of accessibility and quality in the specification.[42] "HCT sees the provision of high-quality public services as a goal in itself...and actively seeks user input into the design and delivery of all its services".[42] The CEO claims "we don’t provide poor services for poor people – the quality has to be there”.[41] HCT recruits volunteers to train people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities to use public transport independently.[43]

West Yorkshire Metro noted that a community transport provider "...spends its surpluses on transport services in the community which are not commissioned from public bodies" but that "Commissioning from the sector can however carry risks...organisations can lack capability and professionalism and be over reliant on individuals leading to instability".[37]

HCT Group is no more immune to labour relations problems than any other bus operator.[44] The Socialist Worker described HCT as "no friend of workers" and its workers as "some of the lowest paid drivers in London".[38]

HCT Group prefers social enterprises and co-ops as business partners and suppliers;[45] when they raised £500k impact investment from the Phone Co-Op in 2014, their CEO explained with investors as well as suppliers they want to "buy social".[46]


Dai Powel, the CEO of HCT Group, formerly a coal miner in Wales,[47] joined as a bus cleaner in 1990[48]

Hackney Community Transport was established in 1982 when 30 community groups in the London Borough of Hackney formed a pool of six vehicles with a grant from Hackney Borough Council to provide low cost van and minibus hire for local community groups, and a door to door alternative to public transport for people with disabilities.[48] The company's services were staffed by volunteers,[48] but over the next decade a small group of paid staff built up to assist the volunteer workforce.[49]

HCT Group received loans from London Rebuilding Society to finance its entry to the bus industry.[50]

In 2004 HCT was contracted by EduAction to deliver 500 local special needs children to school and back each day for London Borough of Waltham Forest from a new depot in Leyton.[51]

In March 2006 HCT expanded outside London to run eight yellow My bus school transport routes in and around Wakefield for West Yorkshire Metro. A further seven runs were added in September[52] and three more in September 2007.[53]

In July 2006 HCT merged with Lambeth & Southwark Community Transport.[52]

On 1 October 2006 HCT began to operate the AccessBus service in Leeds[52] and in 2008, merged with Leeds Alternative Travel.[54]

In March 2009, HCT Group published its first Impact Report.[55]

In February 2010, CT Plus Yorkshire took over the Hull 701 Priory Park & Ride route,[56] with the aim of investing any surplus from its park-and-ride operation to expand a local community transport service and to set up training for long-term unemployed people in Hull.[57] This was withdrawn in 2014, with Stagecoach taking over the service.[34]

In February 2010, HCT Group raised £5 million via a social loan.[47] By 2010 HCT had grown by over a hundredfold since 1993 – from a turnover of £202k to a turnover of £23.3m in 2009/10.[58]

In 2017 and 2018, the group completed a series of acquisitions, purchasing Social Access, Bristol;[59] Manchester Community Transport;[60] CT4TC,[31] a Derbyshire community transport operator, since renamed Derbyshire Community Transport;[32] Powells, South Yorkshire;[61] and Impact Group, West London.[62]

Corporate strategyEdit

HCT Group's corporate strategy is to generate profits from providing commercial transport services, then to use these profits to provide community transport services for people unable to use mainstream transport. The two modes, public transport and special need transport, are fully integrated under their model: "the investment in responsive community transport services is made possible by running the commercial activity well".[42] The Financial Times reported in 2010 that turnover had "grown by about 25 per cent a year for the past eight years and is expected to top £20m in the year to March 31, 2010, when profits will be around £1m.".[47] HCT's rapid growth is achieved by merging with smaller community transport organisations.[41]

HCT Group CEO Dai Powell, in an article explaining the group's strategy,[58] said the business aims to double in size every five or so years for the foreseeable future, seeing scale as ...crucial. The better we do commercially, the more we can do for the communities we serve as a social enterprise. The strategy is maximising the good that we do... to be as bold as a commercial firm, but to the benefit of our communities, not to the owners of capital. It also has the advantage of keeping our social mission absolutely central to our approach. Powell contrasted this approach to that of many third sector organisations where risk is to be mitigated at worst and eliminated at best. This is simply hopeless for rapid growth. He describes the process as much more rewarding than spending your days "maximising shareholder value", whatever that means.[58]


  1. ^ "Contacting HCT Group". HCT Group. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  2. ^ Companies House extract company no 1747483 HCT Group
  3. ^ Our structure on HCT Group website, retrieved 1 October 2009
  4. ^ 'The Phone Co-op invests in public transport social enterprise' on Co-operative News website, dated 2014-12-09, viewed 17 December 2014
  5. ^ Research shows 'start-up explosion' in deprived communities on The Guardian website, viewed 10 September 2011
  6. ^ "About CT Plus". CT Plus. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  7. ^ "CT PLUS COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY". Companies House. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  8. ^ "How we work". HCT Group. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Our routes". CT plus. Archived from the original on 4 July 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  10. ^ CT Plus opens new Walthamstow garage Coach & Bus Week 2 December 2016
  11. ^ The HCT Group story HCT Group
  12. ^ "Impact acquired by HCT Group" Coach & Bus Week issue 1355 15 August 2018 page 7
  13. ^ HCT Group purchases Impact as it grows again Route One 15 August 2018
  14. ^ "HCT Group - All the latest news from HCT Group". Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  15. ^ Carr, Ken (May 2015). The London Bus Guide (5 ed.). Boreham: Visions International Entertainment. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-9931735-3-0.
  16. ^ "CT PLUS (YORKSHIRE) COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY". Vehicle Operator Licensing. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  17. ^ "CT Plus Yorkshire". Sheffield Omnibus Enthusiasts Society. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  18. ^ "AccessBus: The flexible alternative to regular bus services". Metro. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  19. ^ "My Bus: School buses in Leeds and Wakefield". CT plus Yorkshire. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Bus services". CT Plus Yorkshire. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  21. ^ "CT Plus (Yorkshire)". Bus Times. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  22. ^ "CT Plus Yorkshire wins Doncaster NHS Shuttle". CT Plus Yorkshire. Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Manchester Community Transport joins HCT Group". HCT group news. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  24. ^ Debut purchase: HCT Group buys South Yorks Powells Bus Route One 25 July 2018
  25. ^ HCT Group acquires Powells Bus Bus & Coach Buyer 1 August 2018
  26. ^ "Bus services". Bristol Community Transport. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Bristol Community Transport unveiled as Metrobus m1 operator". HCT Group. Archived from the original on 14 December 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  28. ^ HCT Group ¦ Social Enterprise bus operator ¦ - All the latest news from HCT Group
  29. ^ "Who are LibertyBus". Liberty Bus. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Derbyshire Community Transport - Derbyshire Community Transport". Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  31. ^ a b "CT4TC joins HCT Group". HCT Group News. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  32. ^ a b "CT4TC announces its new name - Derbyshire Community Transport". HCT Group News.
  33. ^ London group wins Hull park and ride deal Archived 13 September 2012 at on news website, retrieved 1 October 2009
  34. ^ a b "Stagecoach improve Hull Park & Ride". Coach & Bus Week. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  35. ^ Community transport services on HCT Group website, retrieved 1 October 2009
  36. ^ Our Learning Centre on company website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  37. ^ a b AGENDA ITEM NO: 16. SUBJECT: COMMUNITY TRANSPORT Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine on West Yorkshire Metro website, retrieved 9 October 2009
  38. ^ a b 'East London bus drivers picket bosses over pay' on Socialist Worker website, retrieved 6 January 2011
  39. ^ HCT Group case study Archived 2 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine on Get Legal website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  40. ^ Corporate responsibility on Group website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  41. ^ a b c d "Profile of Dai Powell on website". 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 1 August 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  42. ^ a b c Social enterprise action plan: Scaling New Heights, British cabinet paper, retrieved 8 October 2009
  43. ^ British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres website (4 January 2011). "Engaging the unemployed in a volunteer led community service - HCT Group". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  44. ^ see for example 40 BUS WORKERS PICKET ASH GROVE on Workers Revolutionary Party news website, and London bus workers at Hackney to strike over dismissal of shop steward Archived 17 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine on Unite the union news website; both retrieved 10 October 2009
  45. ^ 'Why we prefer social enterprises and co-ops as business partners' on The Guardian website, viewed 19 October 2011
  46. ^ Anca, Voinea. "The Phone Co-op invests in public transport social enterprise". The News Co-Op. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  47. ^ a b c ‘Social loan’ for cause-based groups on Financial Times website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  48. ^ a b c Origins on HCT Group website, retrieved 18 October 2009
  49. ^ 1986 - 1996 on HCT Group website, retrieved 18 October 2009
  50. ^ HCT Group Archived 8 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine on website, retrieved 8 October 2009
  51. ^ 2004 - 2005 on HCT Group website, retrieved 19 October 2009
  52. ^ a b c 2006 on HCT Group website, retrieved 19 October 2009
  53. ^ 2007 on HCT Group website, retrieved 19 October 2009
  54. ^ 2008 on HCT Group website, retrieved 19 October 2009
  55. ^ HCT Group publishes its first Impact Report on group website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  56. ^ Commencement of Hull Priory Park Park and Ride service on group website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  57. ^ Park-and-ride firm HCT is focusing on the community[permanent dead link] on Hull Daily Mail website, retrieved 4 January 2011
  58. ^ a b c 'Our lessons from the race for scale' on The Guardian website, retrieved 7 March 2011
  59. ^ "Social Access joins the HCT Group". HCT Group News. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  60. ^ "Manchester Community Transport joins HCT Group". HCT Group News. Archived from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  61. ^ "HCT Group acquire Powells Bus". HCT Group News. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  62. ^ "HCT Group acquires west London operator Impact Group". HCT Group News.

External linksEdit