24 April 2008

Recent BUS/COACH developments, no 5

  • Profitable Oxford cctv cameras. Bus gates in Oxford - signalling 'no entry' areas for motorists, have been earning Oxfordshire County Council a reported £123 an hour or £90 a day following the installation of cctv cameras at the gates. Generally 90 cars per day are caught entering the bus-only areas of the city.

  • Passenger loses £7.4k claim against B&H. Pauline Ashley has lost her £7,400 claim against Brighton & Hove Bus Company in a court ruling last week. Mrs Ashley claims the "bus jerked" as it pulled away before she had chance to sit down in November 2003, injuring her knee. It was successfully argued by B&H that its driver was not obliged to inform passengers when he was going to pull away and that after the last passenger had boarded it was wise to assume the bus would pull away immediately.

  • Optare MD leaves under much speculation. Optare's managing director Bob Coombes has left the company. He features prominently in the buy-out from North American Bus Industries in 2005. His departure seems to be the first casualty of Optare's recent acquisition by Jamesstan Investments, controlled by Roy Stanley, Darwen Group's chairman. Bob Coombes' departure also contradicts an Optare statement on 12 March which read, "Bob Coombes and the rest of the management team have committed themselves to remaining with Optare and providing full continuity for employers, customers and suppliers."

  • Massive bus-priority investment in Sheffield. Over £10million is expected to be spent on bus priority measures in the Sheffield area over the coming months; three main roads are earmarked to receive the bus-friendly treatment: A57 Sheffield Parkway, A6178 Attercliffe Road/Attercliffe Common and A61 Penistone Road. The works on the A61 and the A6178 are thought to be in readiness for the Sheffield to Rotherham Bus Rapid Transit Scheme. The A61 Penistone Road is being upgraded in order to commence a new £10million quality bus corridor.

  • Arriva purchase 80% of Eurobus. Arriva has purchased an 80% stake in Interbus Invest, who owns Eurobus Invest - Hungary's biggest private bus group, in a deal worth £25.4million. The deal comes with a net debt of £600,000 as at the end of last year. Eurobus operates 840 buses and employs 1,500 staff throughout Hungary and Slovakia; it means that Arriva now has a presence in 12 countries.

  • NX driver faces custodial sentence. Leslie Darryl Weinberg, 35, the driver of the National Express Scania/Irizar PB coach that overturned at Newport Pagnel services on 3 September 2007, has admitted dangerous driving and being over the drink-drive limit. The judge told him to expect a custodial prison term when sentencing takes place.

  • Arriva fined £41k by TC. Arriva Scotland West has been fined £41,250 by the Traffic Commissioner following attendance of its third Public Inquiry in 4 years. The latest Inquiry features both engineering and operational issues - the engineering issues started when a wheel fell off one of its vehicles in between Paisley and Largs. Operational issues were called into question after VOSA recorded a 12% non-compliance in the Paisley area. As a result of the operational deficiencies, the limit of O Licences to 275 (which had been imposed as a previous Inquiry) was maintained and that it would only be lifted when applied for by Arriva. The fine of £41,250 was calculated by fining the firm £150 per each of the 275 O Licences held.

  • Darwen Group 'up' East Lancs' forunes by 50%. Two orders have been signed by the Darwen Group for 38 new buses to be built by the end of this financial year. Both contracts have a combined value of £5million and represent a 50% increase on orders compared to this time last year - prior to them purchasing the troubled East Lancs Coachbuilders.

  • Runaway bus investigated. An investigation is underway by Arriva Leicester after one of its vehicles rolled down a hill while its driver was in a nearby shop. The bus, which was empty, crashed through a residential fence and ended up in someone's front garden. The driver has been suspended.

  • PM visits COMS depot. Prime Minister Gordon Brown spent just short of an hour at Go Ahead's City of Oxford Motor Services' (COMS) relatively new Cowley House depot last week. The PM made specific reference to COMS's environmental record as "the greenest in the country", being the first operator to introduce vehicles conforming to Euro 5 emission standards.

  • Arriva wins up to 3 RoSPA awards. Arriva has won three awards from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). They won gold in the 'Management of Health & Safety' and 'Management of Road Risk' categories and have been nominated for the 'Management of Occupational Road Risk' trophy.

  • Deckers could be taken off contracts in Wales. School transport in Wales could be altered in such a way as to ban double deckers from operating school contract services. Deputy First Minister and Minister for Economy & Transport in Wales, Ieuan Wyn Jones said "I am discouraging the use of the three-for-two seating and of double deck buses for travel to and from school". He was speaking before the Welsh Assembly when outlining the draft of the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008. The details within the draft was widely welcomed though potential cost problems were identified.

  • Skills buy Motorvator. Skills Holidays of Nottingham has acquired the business of Colwick-based Motorvator in a deal with the administrator who had been called into take control of Motorvator. The deal will save 7 drivers' jobs and 14 coaches, all of which have been moved to Skills' Bulwell depot. The Motorvator brand name is to be retained.

  • EasyBus launch new Gatwick route. As we mentioned when it broke on 26 January, a new service between central London and Gatwick Airport has been launched by eastBus. Given route number EB3 the route's launch was delayed from 18 March by just under a month. The service is operated by Arriva subsidiary New Enterprise Coaches of Tonbridge who operate Optare Sorocos on the route to a 20 min frequency. This totals three London-area airports easyBus provides transport to: Luton, Stansted and Gatwick; in all cases Arriva operate the services on easyBus's behalf. Service EB3 when added to the other two routes, is to increase easyBus departures in central London by 38%.

  • Private security firm patrols the number 54. A test scheme is underway on Service 54 buses in Leicester which will see security guards travelling on the top deck of the deckers that operate the route. Operated by First, Service 54 runs between the city centre-Beaumont Leys and the additional security has been taken following assaults on drivers and passengers.

  • Richardsons driver faces re-trial. A recent high-profile court case into the injuries of 22 children while traveling on a Richardsons Coaches vehicle was stopped this week due to legal reasons. The driver, Steven Sapsford, faces a re-trial before Hartlepool Magistrates' Court. He has always denied allegations of driving without due care and attention.