SOME bus passengers got free rides on Friday after the collapse of the Hatts Travel group.

The company from Chippenham, which operated Salisbury’s park and ride network and various routes linking the city with the surrounding area, went into administration last week.

Salisbury Reds immediately took over operating some services but did not have time to get its charging processes sorted out, so waived its fares for the day.

The company – formerly known as Wilts & Dorset – is in talks with Wiltshire Council about taking on the park and ride in the long term.

A spokesman said: “Rather than the service being funded by the council, Salisbury Reds are looking at funding it on a commercial basis.”

Wilts & Dorset used to operate the park and ride until 2011, under a deal worth £1.5million a year.

Then a contract was signed with Hatts which was expected to save the council £237,000 a year and other measures, including redundancies, were put in place to stem the system’s losses.