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August 31 2016
By Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell is the industry’s leading legal journalist, covering all key cases brought before Public Inquries, Tribunals, Magistrates and Crown Courts

Yorkshire Tiger at PI

Yorkshire Tiger appears before DTC at PI over punctuality issues; decision to be announced at a later date [update: decision here]

Arriva subsidiary Yorkshire Tiger has to wait to see what action, if any, Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Tony Secular is to take over reliability figures in the 80s on its local services.

‘Considerable investment had been made into improving punctuality’

The company, of Lowfields Business Park, Elland, with a 145-vehicle licence, had been called before the DTC at a Leeds Public Inquiry (PI). He was also considering the repute of former Transport Manager (TM), Stephen Ottley.

At the outset the DTC said that the main issue was the failure to operate local services in accordance with the registered timetables.

For the company, Andrew Banks said that in relation to the Idle Operating Centre it was not appreciated that when the application for its use was made in May it could not be used immediately. When he advised the company it stopped using Idle, however the application for its use had subsequently been granted.

Traffic Examiner and BOAM Officer Joanna Batley said that in May and June 2014, two services were monitored showing a compliance rate of 63%. The company’s response showed that compliance rates had improved to between 80% and 86.5%.

On 17 days between September and November 2015, 17 of the 74 live registrations were monitored. Of the 402 journeys monitored, nine failed to operate, 17 ran early and 56 were more than five minutes early, giving a non-compliance rate of 19%. 

The company had been aware of punctuality issues for around two years. She agreed that sometimes variations to timetables worked and sometimes they did not.

Area Managing Director Simon Finney said that he took up his position at the end of February. The Leeds operating centre had closed in June and been replaced by Idle. A punctuality improvement group met on a weekly basis. 

They had embarked on a network review, and variations to services operated from the Elland and Honley depots had already been submitted in July and would come into place in September, with services variations admitted four times a year.

A review of the services in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority operated from the Huddersfield depot was ongoing and should be completed in October.

Lost mileage was reviewed daily, and there were depot review meetings monthly. The customer complaints service had been improved by centralising it at Luton.

The routes concerned were complex, operating over semi-rural areas from the Huddersfield depot. The current compliance rate on those services was 79-80%, and they were part of the review of services at that depot.

Lost mileage was high in January, due to a loss of buses and disruption caused by a fire and floods at the Elland, Leeds and Huddersfield depots.

Punctuality over the last six months was approximately 81%, which was an improvement on the situation in 2014 and 2015. 

Mr Finney could only apologise for the fact that no TM forms were submitted when the current two TMs were engaged. At no time had the company operated without a qualified CPC holder.

He also apologised for the fact that the list of company Directors at the Traffic Area Office (TAO) had not been up to date. The company had been unaware that a driver was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention for an incident whilst employed by the company, as he had already been dismissed.

Since his appointment, the systems in relation to compliance, punctuality and roadworthiness had been overhauled and he had sought to change the culture in the company.      

TM Stewart Fillingham said that he had joined the company in April and his role was operations. They would continue to review services with the aim of getting to 95% compliance.

Mr Ottley said that he had been nominated as the third TM on the licence in September 2014. In October 2014 one of the other TMs left and was not replaced, and the other left in early 2015 without being replaced.

Mr Banks said that it was clear that mistakes had been made.

Considerable investment had been made into improving punctuality, and all the action taken pre-dated the PI.

For Mr Ottley, Richard Pelly said that bus operation was very difficult and the standards were high. The 2014 monitoring exercise was before his watch and the last exercise was concluded after Mr Ottley had left the company. 

The DTC is to announce his decision in writing in relation to the company. He said that Mr Ottley bore some responsibility for the compliance issues along with the Directors and other TMs. 

He resigned while the second monitoring exercise was being carried out, so bore a limited responsibility in that respect. 

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