WALL, N.J., Jan. 9, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SchoolWheels Direct, Inc. ("SWD"), a subsidiary of Student Transportation Inc. ("STI") (TSX:STB) (Nasdaq:STB) announced that it has entered into a Management Services Agreement with Atlantic Express Transportation Group ("AE") to manage the company's California operations beginning January 10, 2014. SWD will provide all the management and other necessary services to maintain the company's existing school transportation business in California. AE operates 425 school vehicles with annualized revenues of over $25 million and has significant school transportation contracts and operations with the Los Angeles Unified School District ("LAUSD") and the Long Beach Unified School District as well as many private and Charter Schools throughout Southern California. STI's subsidiary, Student Transportation of America ("STA"), has been providing school transportation throughout California since 1997 and has been servicing LAUSD for the past four years.
Atlantic Express' parent company recently sought protection under the federal bankruptcy protection rules due primarily from its unprofitable New York City Public Schools contract and a failure to reach an agreement with the company's Union there. The Management Services Agreement with SWD has been approved by the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and AE's debtors who are selling various assets in several states. SWD will manage only the California operations of AE and will receive a management fee through the operations of that business until such time an Asset Purchase Agreement is closed. The Asset Purchase Agreement has also been approved by the court whereby STA may purchase the California assets of AE, including vehicles and school contracts, contingent on the receipt of various school district consents and the conclusion of final negotiations between the AE debtors and other creditors allowing for the free and clear transfer of the vehicles to STA.
"Atlantic Express has a very good service reputation in California and we are pleased that our company, SchoolWheels Direct, Inc., has been chosen by the court and the debtors to operate and manage the California business until such time negotiations are final on the purchase of the vehicles and suitable arrangements for a seamless transition can take place," said Denis Gallagher, CEO of STI. "We would hope to transfer the business to our local operating subsidiary by the end of March however it could be much sooner. Our SchoolWheels Direct business has been growing in many states with various transportation and management services contracts. Our history and expertise in the industry is what the court and Atlantic Express' debtors were seeking to ensure customers and employees there would be continuity in service without disruption."