A local family-owned school bus company that has provided transportation for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District for five decades has been sold to a national company based in Wall, N.J.
Williams Bus Lines, Inc., located at 532 Blackman St., Wilkes-Barre, has been purchased by Student Transportation of America Inc. (STA) for $3.4 million cash, according to Student Transportation of America’s public financial supports. The company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ.
Student Transportation of America is the third-largest provider of school bus transportation services in North America. Operating more than 9,000 vehicles in 200-plus school districts, the company has been purchasing local bus companies and expanding its fleet. The acquisition of Williams adds 50 more buses to the company’s national fleet.
Williams was founded by Robert Williams. His son David Williams most recently operated the company and will remain on as a consultant.
“I just decided to retire, really,” said Williams, 68, of Dallas. “STA has been after me for quite a while now, and we decided to do a deal with them. It was a big decision for me to do.”
John Edison Carey, Student Transportation of America Inc.’s vice president of business development, has been trying to acquire Williams for more than 15 years. He said the attempts dated back to when he worked at Laidlaw Bus Company, but Williams repeatedly passed on his offers.
Williams said that he and his wife Rosemary, who don’t have children, came to the realization he either had to “keep going until I dropped over” or sell at some point.
He said STA has a good reputation and he felt confident the new owner would treat his staff well. He also noted the Williams name will remain on the buses.
“The company is a long time, well-respected fixture in the communities and has provided many years of safe, reliable service,” said Carey. He offered praise for the company’s staff, which most of the 62 employees have been retained.
“They had quite a successful time over 56 years with no noise. Very good service to school district, and to the parents and to the children. This is the kind of business we seek out,” said Carey, an Ashley native who graduated from St. Leo’s and King’s College.
“This is a very good addition to our family of companies,” Carey said. “They have great drivers, mechanics and staff.”
The sale of Williams does not end the company’s 50-year relationship with the school district.
“Along with the acquisition, we were able to work with the school district to negotiate a new five-year contract. With this new partnership we will continue to provide safe and reliable transportation while at the same time look for more efficient ways to utilize the buses traveling to and from school every day,” Carey said.
In addition, Williams handles some transportation contracts for Wyoming Seminary, Holy Redeemer and Luzerne Intermediate Unit-19. That will continue. STA is already contracted by Wyoming Valley West and Riverside school districts.