SCHOOL BUSES SAFETY SCANDAL; FEARS AFTER BOSSES REPLACE CRUCIAL PIT INSPECTIONS WITH CHEAPER ROAD-SIDE TESTSNOVEMBER Transport Chiefs Ditch Vital Checks to Save More moneyFEBRUARY Mechanical Fault Blamed as 26 Pupils Are Hurt When Coach Overturns

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), February 19, 2017 | Go to article overview

SCHOOL BUSES SAFETY SCANDAL; FEARS AFTER BOSSES REPLACE CRUCIAL PIT INSPECTIONS WITH CHEAPER ROAD-SIDE TESTSNOVEMBER Transport Chiefs Ditch Vital Checks to Save More moneyFEBRUARY Mechanical Fault Blamed as 26 Pupils Are Hurt When Coach Overturns


Byline: Lynn McPherson

Crucial safety inspections on school buses were abandoned just weeks before an accident in which 26 pupils were injured, a Sunday Mail investigation reveals today. Transport bosses in charge of hundreds of school buses ditched the routine "pit" checks which took place at approved premises every six months.

Instead they opted for random roadside checks, which sources claim are cheaper.

The change was approved by Scotland's largest public transport group - Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) in November.

Less than three months later, 26 children were taken to hospital after their bus overturned in Cumbernauld. The crash - blamed on a possible mechanical fault - happened outside Our Lady's High School.

School. Remarkably, no one was seriously injured but one pupil suffered a broken leg. The cause of the crash is still being probed.

that the may been SPT manage school bus contracts on behalf of North Lanarkshire Council. Our investigation also found buses built as far back as 1988 being used to transport school pupils.

coincidence you be careful The F-reg Leyland Olympian double decker spotted, started service 29 years ago. The bus involved in the Cumbernauld accident was 18 years old and owned by JD Travel.

An SPT spokeswoman said: "We now carry out random checks on vehicles used to carry children and these are undertaken at schools, rather than at operator premises.

"Random checks provide for a more dynamic inspection regime, enhancing safety as they place the onus on the driver and the operator to ensure that the drivers are qualified to drive the vehicle and that road-worthiness checks have been carried out before the vehicle leaves the operator's premises."

But one operator, who holds an SPT inspection contract, said: "One of the stipulations was that you would have your vehicles inspected twice a year at your own premises or a premises of your choice.

"All the vehicles have to go through an MoT - but SPT have always had their own mandatory testing to check vehicles are fit for purpose.

"I was told last November I would no longer be receiving inspections twice a year. Instead, the private-hire vehicles will just have to pass an MOT, which is lawful.

"The inspections always went over and above that. They were very rigorous with the vehicle on a ramp and over a pit. The inspectors still reserve the right to pull your vehicle for testing but it's clearly a cost-cutting exercise. The school bus that left the road in Cumbernauld may have been a coincidence but you can't be too careful when it comes to schoolchildren."

SPT oversee public transport for the west of Scotland and are responsible for arranging school bus services.

The operator added: "Now all that happens is that an inspector can turn up and do a visual inspection by the roadside with a torch.

"This will probably happen at schools when contractors are waiting to collect children. The SPT inspectors will be forced to put their name to a brief check at the roadside to say that a bus or car is safe - a long way from the thorough overhauls that used to be necessary. …

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SCHOOL BUSES SAFETY SCANDAL; FEARS AFTER BOSSES REPLACE CRUCIAL PIT INSPECTIONS WITH CHEAPER ROAD-SIDE TESTSNOVEMBER Transport Chiefs Ditch Vital Checks to Save More moneyFEBRUARY Mechanical Fault Blamed as 26 Pupils Are Hurt When Coach Overturns
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