Arriva says goodbye to Minho after 20 years of reign on Ave

Since the first day of the year, an Arriva bus has not been seen circulating in the Ave area, between Guimarães, Fafe, Vieira do Minho, Póvoa de Lanhoso, Barcelos, Famalicão, Santo Tirso, Póvoa de Varzim or Vila do Conde. A strange sight for anyone who, over the past 20 years, has seen the predominance of transport painted in turquoise blue on highways and bus terminals. Transdev and its own companies for this purpose should replace the British operator.

In cause [para o abandono], claimed the company, are the successive delays in contracts signed with public entities. On June 22, 2020, the president of Arriva Portugal, José Pires da Fonseca, wrote a letter to the prime minister in which he warned that “the eventual postponement of the current tenders would have two devastating effects on the way investors look at Portugal: for one on the other hand, by the discrediting of institutions; and, on the other hand, by redirecting investments to other countries”.

Message found at the opening of the Arriva Portugal website. Source:

Almost a year and a half later, Arriva’s parent company, Deutsche Bahn, decided to withdraw the company from the North of Portugal, keeping only the TST brand service in Setúbal, and 31.5% in the management of the Portuguese group Barraqueiro. From July 2022, under the name Metropolitano Carris, it will lease the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, under a seven-year contract.

The affected municipalities were duly notified and found solutions, some definitive, others less so. In Guimarães, GuimaBus began operating on January 1st, after an international public tender. In Famalicão, Trofa and Santo Tirso, Transdev ensures provisional service until the new Mobi.Ave service is on the ground, which will operate in those three municipalities. The same company will also ensure public transport in Barcelos and Fafe.

With the closing of operations of Arriva Portugal, almost 100 years of history, written by four family-oriented companies that, in 2000, were acquired by the English company Arriva PLC, will also fall.

João Carlos Soares e Filhos SA, Abílio da Costa Moreira and Companhia, SA, Viação Costa e Lino, SA and Ami – Transportes, SA became Arriva in Portugal, and quickly a new paradigm was created among bus users from area of ​​the Ave, which were divided with passes from different operators until then. In 2010, Arriva PLC was acquired by the Deutsche Bahn company.

In addition to serving the municipalities by private means, it now holds 100% of Urban Transport in Guimarães and 66% Urban Transport in Famalicão, as well as 20% of Urban Transport in Santo Tirso. It operated in an area of ​​2503.3 km2 divided by Vale do Ave and the Metropolitan Area of ​​Porto, serving half a million inhabitants. Until yesterday, it was headquartered in Guimarães, with workshops and an operational center in Famalicão.