Traffic Commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney has sent a clear message to operators, saying that “the authority and opportunity to make a living from bus routes carries important legal commitments.”
He warns: “Don’t neglect your responsibilities and duty to passengers using local services.”
He criticised Somerset-based Nippy Bus’ sole director and transport manger Sydney Hardy, 57, for his “utter contempt” for community and staff.
The firm stopped running its nine bus services without any notice, instantly dismissing the staff in a ranting e-mail [routeone, News, 1 November].
At a Public Inquiry (PI) – which Mr Hardy failed to attend – the TC banned him from being involved in the industry for 10 years, and disqualified him from acting as a transport manager.
The TC says he hopes the decision “would persuade other operators in a similar situation to manage any closure in a better way.”
He added that Mr Hardy was perfectly entitled to bring the services, which covered routes to Ilminster, Yeovil and Wincanton, to an end but he should have given the legally-required 56-days notice.
Mr Hardy sent a letter about the closure, complaining about issues of running rural buses and driver shortages, which arrived at the TC’s office two days after the firm’s 29 October 2016 closure.
The PI also heard that 19 prohibitions to the vehciles had been issued in the past five years. Shortly before the firm closed, a bus with a prohibition for a defective door was found to have a fault with the front brakes when it was presented for clearance. When presented for the brakes prohibition to be lifted, it was found that the repair was not satisfactory.
Full details in next week’s Court Report (1 February 2018)