London buses, school buses, harm reduction buses, minibuses – it’s all aboard for one of the UK’s leading social enterprises, HCT Group, and its boss Dai Powell
HCT Group is a thriving business – very different from the community transport provider that began life helping community groups with their transport in a London borough almost 30 years ago.
Back then, Social Enterprise Ambassador Dai Powell was a volunteer bus cleaner. Now he’s HCT’s chief executive, leading a company with 490 staff and a turnover topping £20 million, providing training and jobs for hundreds of long-term unemployed people and running transport services in the capital and Yorkshire.
HCT’s social goals are the driving force of the company, but Dai says they could not be achieved if HCT wasn’t making a profit. “You have to be an enterprise first, because if you don’t make a profit, you can’t fulfil that social mission,” he says.
The profit comes from contracts for commercial, school and community bus services won in competition with (often giant) operators in the private sector. In addition to its local authority services in London and Yorkshire, HCT runs four red bus routes for Transport for London (TFL), transporting almost 25,000 passengers a day. HCT even operates a harm reduction bus for London drug-users, allowing them to dispose of needles safely and get advice while doing so.