Bans and fines for three Harlow bus companies

Politics / Tue 11th Mar 2014 at 04:05pm

THREE Harlow bus smcoachoperators have been ordered to pay heavy fines after problems were reported on their bus services.

Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the East of England, Miles Dorrington, determined that Roadrunner Coaches Ltd, Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd and Roadrunner Buses Ltd must pay a total of £10,450 following evidence they failed to meet standards for registered bus services.

He also took action against each of their operator licences, revoking the licence held by Roadrunner Coaches Ltd, directing that Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd would be suspended from running vehicles and ruling that

Roadrunner Buses Ltd would have its licence restricted for five days.

In addition, Mr Dorrington revoked a fourth licence, held by S M Coaches Ltd, and disqualified both the company and its former director, Philip Knight, for a period of three years, after it was found that the company had breached a previous order from 2011.

The decisions follow a public inquiry in Cambridge on 09, 10 and 11 December 2013, into the operator licences held by each company, which allow them to operate buses and carry passengers.

The Deputy Commissioner examined whether the management controls within each company were sufficient to ensure compliance with operator licensing requirements. He also looked at whether:

· bus services registered to the four businesses had been operated on time;

· S M Coaches Ltd had operated without a transport manager.

· Roadrunner Buses Ltd had unlawfully swapped operator licence discs with Roadrunner Coaches Ltd;

· any of the operators had failed to produce documentation formally requested by a Government enforcement agency;

· any of the operators and individuals had failed to co-operate with that agency;

· two routes operated by Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd were subject to a legal exemption from tachograph regulations

Mr Dorrington heard evidence from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (incorporating VOSA and the DSA) and Transport for London (TfL) in relation to bus services run by all four operators.

S M Coaches Ltd had several bus registrations under its licence, including five services that ceased operating in July 2011, but the firm failed to cancel them with the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner concluded there was 100% non compliance on the services.

Brookfield Centre, Cheshunt to Loughton Station, found that over a two day period, the overall compliance rate was 61%. 21 services were observed, three failed to operate, four were early and six were late. An additional monitoring exercise saw that all six of the observed services operated late. Again, Mr Dorrington found no reasonable excuse for the services failing to operate.

Ruling that financial penalties should be imposed, he ordered Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd to pay £4200, Roadrunner Buses Ltd to pay £3750 and Roadrunner Coaches Ltd to pay £2500.

The Deputy Commissioner also found that:

· S M Coaches Ltd attempted to circumvent an order to suspend its licence, following a public inquiry in 2011;

· S M Coaches Ltd unlawfully operated registered bus services during that suspension;

· S M Coaches Ltd operated without a transport manager – which it was legally required to have – for over one year, which meant it gained a commercial advantage over other bus operators;

· Two services operated by Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd did fall within EU drivers’ hours rules;

· Olympus Bus and Coach Ltd failed to produce documents to the DVSA;

· Carmelo Marino, a transport manager and director, failed to co-operate with the DVSA with his overall conduct.

He was also critical of other individuals responsible in each business for transport activities, including Phillip Knight, who chose not attend the inquiry.

“The case of S M Coaches Ltd is a bad one,” he remarked. “I had allowed, by the very narrowest of margins, for this operator to keep its good repute and its operator’s licence after the public inquiry in 2011.”

“Operator licensing relies on trust. I had given my trust to this operator and to Mr Knight after the last public inquiry but in doing so it was immediately totally undermined. Doing that strikes at the heart of operator licensing and at the very jurisdiction of the Traffic Commissioners who regulate the industry.”

He added that Carmelo Marino’s attitude towards the DVSA and TfL could not be excused. All transport managers, he said, are expected to full co-operate with the relevant enforcement agencies. But the Deputy Commissioner added that Mr Marino had been candid and open in his acceptance that things had gone wrong. Mr Marino’s good repute was found to be “severely tarnished” but not lost.

The Deputy Commissioner revoked the licence held by Roadrunner Coaches Ltd after the company failed to satisfy the mandatory financial standing requirement.

Mr Dorrington also concluded that the repute of Stephen Stapleton, the transport manager for Roadrunner Buses Ltd, was tarnished. Mr Stapleton did not attend the inquiry.

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