Bus Firm is in Court
(p5, Evening Star, 10 Feb 2010)
EAST ANGLIA: A bus operator was called before a court after an investigation found one in five journeys in Ipswich left early, arrived late or did not turn up at all.
A covert survey into these services by First Eastern Counties was undertaken last year by the Department for Transport after complaints over punctuality. Of 454 journeys studied in between March 16th and July 16th, eight never arrived, 19 left more than a minute early and 83 were more than five minutes late.
As well as this, in 18 cases the front of the bus displayed the incorrect destination.
This mean that almost a quarter of journeys fell outside the strict limits imposed by the traffic commissioners office, which oversees bus licensing, forcing it to arrange yesterdays hearing with representatives from the firm.
Despite the damning report, First Eastern Counties Buses claimed at the inquiry to have “reasonable excuses” for many of the problems highlighted, including unannounced road-works which delayed drivers and several breakdowns.
Many routes and timetables in Ipswich were updated an improved on November 15th last year, including all but one of the ones investigated, after the report was compiled.
The public inquiry was heard by Sarah Bell, the deputy traffic commissioner for the eastern area. Although commissioner has the power to remove an operator’s license, or reduce the number of services it can run, she chose to adjourn the matter for review later in the year, following further covert tests to be arranged this summer.
But she made clear that further improvements would need to be made before then, despite the firm’s ongoing efforts.