School bus operator issued with warning

The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, Joan Aitken, has warned a Lumsden school bus operator against a complacent approach to its vehicle maintenance.

John Shirran and Margaret Shirran, trading as Lumsden Garage, were called to a public inquiry in Aberdeen on January 12, following an adverse report from a VOSA Vehicle Examiner. The operator’s main work is to carry out school transport work across Aberdeenshire.

The Vehicle Examiner had carried out an unannounced maintenance investigation that revealed that the front passenger door of one of the operator’s buses could not be opened manually from the outside.

The Examiner served an immediate prohibition notice as he took the view that it was a long-standing defect that should have been identified at the last safety check.

Mr Shirran indicated to the Traffic Commissioner that there had been an intermittent fault on another vehicle which had shown up as a fail at annual test in October 2010.

Following the Vehicle Examiner’s inspection, Mr Shirran had issued each of his drivers with a copy of the Public Service Vehicle drivers’ walk round check and told them that they needed to inspect each vehicle before driving it, immediately reporting any defects.

The operator had also employed a new time-served mechanic, responsible for all safety inspections and repairs. He had also asked a consultant to produce a maintenance audit report.

This had noted that the annual test fail rate was poor and had drawn attention to certain deficiencies.

The operator was called to a Public Inquiry in January 2006 after an incident when a wheel became detached while a bus was carrying passengers.

The Traffic Commissioner then noted that when the vehicles went to annual test, they were not in prime condition.

Ms Aitken said: “The full lessons of the previous Public Inquiry have not been learned in terms of sustained attention to recording what defects had been repaired. This Public Inquiry has served to put a strong marker down to the operator that it should guard against complacency and that school transport work requires the highest of standards and total commitment to the licence undertakings.”

The Traffic Commissioner warned the operator and put a condition on the licence preventing any increase in authorisation for a period of nine months from 18 January 2012.