Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) Richard Turfitt last week told Confederation of Passenger Transport members that while the service delivered by TCs to operators is improving, it is still not where he would like it to be.
That not only does he accept that, but that he is also ready to meet what could constitute a group of his harshest critics and tell them, is laudable. But there remains one obstacle to removing more of the non-compliant from the industry and speeding O-Licence processing times. Money.
Mr Turfitt’s predecessor as STC was equally vocal about that. It’s not just TCs that are squeezed financially. DVSA is too. When one operator questioned who will enforce PSVAR for coaches, it was answered with a scratch of the head. It’s another task for the stretched agency to absorb.
Nobody would argue that the TCs do not play a vital role in ensuring a safe and compliant industry that hosts competition on a fair basis. That is beyond question.
What is more difficult to understand is why it is necessary for a TC and their office to become involved with poor bus punctuality. A network of Bus Operator Account Managers is already in place, employed by DVSA. They should be involved in a review of the framework surrounding service registration and regulation of punctuality.
Except in extreme cases, services operating outside the six-minute window of tolerance is not a matter that should concern a TC. Their time would be much better spent dealing with seriously non-compliant drivers and operators.
Responsibility for bus punctuality should be dealt with in a different way. But how, and paid for by whom, are the two questions that need answering first.