03 April 2008

Western Greyhound & the national press

There has been much coverage of late in the national press about the effects of the implementation of EU Regulation 561/2006.

The Sun's piece
The BBC online's piece
The Daily Mail's piece
The Telegraph's piece
The Guardian's piece

... are to name but five. Operators have had to abide by EU Regulation 561/2006 since 18 April 2007 and yet only now has its main problems come to light. The reason? Mark Howarth, managing director of Western Greyhound, has brought it to the attention of the press. The fact this had to be done, just shy of its first birthday, does seem to confirm our suspicions about the national press having no real interest in public transport legislation otherwise their pages would have been full back in April last year.

However, now a Working Party has been commissioned, comprising bus/coach operators Western Greyhound, Norfolk Green, Stagecoach and other individual members of the CPT. It will meet on 17 April to discuss the long-term aims and better ways to deal with the legislation. It was set-up by Jim Fitzpatrick, parliamentary under secretary of state for Transport. This could well by why The Sun et al were willing to listen to Mark Howarth's details of how his passengers were made to get off and back on his bus services twice in what used to be a single run.

Of course what wasn't mentioned in the national press was the one step operators can and have taken in order to conform to EU Regulation 561/2006: to fit tachometers to their vehicles - at a cost - which will see their buses conform to the Regulation (from 1 Jan 08) and re-scheduling their drivers to drive vehicles on these routes for no more than 4.5 hours before a 45 minute break (from 18 Apr 07) will see their workforce conform.

Local operators here in the LEYTR area have done this without a moment's notice: Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes retro-fitted their 5 Plaxton Paladin-bodied Volvo B10M buses used on Service X1 (New Waltham-Hull) within 2 weeks in January. Stagecoach is a large company and the specific costs will be less felt; however in order to truly put the passenger first, it's the only step open to each affected operator, until such time as the legislation can be altered.

Would this sell as many newspapers though?