POOLE and Bournemouth bus companies have driven to the rescue of residents stranded by the sudden demise of Shamrock Buses.

But a warning has been given by an operator that small to medium companies are continuing to struggle in difficult trading conditions.

Following Wednesday’s shock announcement, the company’s website now declares: “Shamrock have gone bust! We are sorry to announce that Shamrock Buses has ceased trading.”

The Holton Heath-based company, which employed more than 40 drivers, mechanics and office staff, ran both commercial and local authority school services in Poole, Bournemouth and Wimborne.

Both Yellow Buses and the Go Ahead Group have immediately stepped in to take over local and school services.

Until the end of term, Bournemouth Council passes are being accepted by Yellow Buses and Go Ahead sister companies Damory and Wilts & Dorset.

Alex Carter, managing director for the Go Ahead group in the south, said his managers were interviewing many of Shamrock’s former drivers for jobs.

“We are in the fortunate position as part of the Go Ahead Group to be able to immediately draw buses from other companies in the group to keep services running for Shamrock passengers and we expect to secure at least 20 jobs for the former drivers and other Shamrock staff members,” he said.

However, with rising operating costs and cuts in local authority spending on bus service subsidies, he warned: “I fear that we will see many independent operators struggle over the next couple of years as the impact of the spending cuts is realised.”

Go Ahead has taken over Shamrock’s services 31 from Christchurch to Boscombe and 41 from Throop to Boscombe and school services 31q, 36, 40, 40a, 55, 76, 88 and 89.

Yellow Buses, which was taking over route 111 from Hurn to Highcliffe from July 25, launched it on Thursday, with free travel on the first day.

“We have acted quickly to put these special measures in place to try and minimise the disruption likely to be caused to many hundreds of students and members of the public across our operating area,” said Jenni Wilkinson, head of marketing, Yellow Buses.