THE boss of Yellow Buses has left the company, days after accounts reported rising losses at the firm.

Andrew Smith had decided to “move on to other challenges”, a statement from the bus operator’s parent company said.

Mr Smith joined the company as finance director in 2006 and became its managing director in 2014, when he voiced his ambition for the company to become a benchmark for quality in the industry.

A statement from RATP Dev said: “After many years of loyal service to Yellow Buses, first as finance director and then as managing director, Andrew Smith has decided to move on to other challenges. He is therefore relinquishing his role with effect from Friday October 6.”

He was replaced on Monday by David Squire, who has worked for RATP Dev UK for the past year as commercial director for the North West.

The company’s full accounts for 2016 were published at Companies House last Monday.

They revealed revenue was down three per cent year-on-year and operating profit was down 53 per cent to £115,000.

Pre-tax losses were up from £25,000 to £124,000, making a loss after tax of £193,000.

Asked whether Mr Smith’s departure was linked to the latest figures, RATP Dev replied with a statement from Tim Jackson, its chief executive in the UK and Ireland.

It said: “Andrew's decision to seek new opportunities is a personal one. However, it is true that the bus market in Bournemouth, as in many cities in the UK, faces significant structural challenges, not least due to congestion.

“We are confident that the new leadership will position us well to respond effectively to the changing market. It reinforces our long term commitment to Yellow Buses as a provider of excellent and innovative customer service, the transport of choice in Bournemouth and Poole and a major local employer.”

Last month, Mr Smith warned that congestion levels in the conurbation had increased significantly. He said the firm was looking at options including joint ticketing with Poole-based rival Morebus.

"It is no exaggeration to say that unless we start taking some urgent decisive and sustainable action soon, then the whole conurbation will quite literally grind to a halt,” he said then.

Mr Jackson said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Smith for his tireless work for Yellow Buses and wish him well for the future. I am confident that David Squire and the team will bring a fresh perspective and commercial edge to the Bournemouth-Poole bus market and look forward to the company’s continued success.”

Last year, Mr Smith presided over a shake-up of Yellow Buses routes described as the biggest in a decade.

Yellow Buses, based at Yeomans Way near Castlepoint, employs 457 staff, 368 of them on the road.