In this chat I am pleased to bring up two issues from across at the Omnibuses blog the link for which is across on the right. Following my interview over on that site there were lots of comments but one (which you can see for yourself) talks about how there are a few examples of us at First “running small operators off the road.”
You’ll see me ask for examples – the ones suggested were Western Greyhound and Chester City Transport!
I know Mark Howarth, MD Western Greyhound, would find it jolly funny at the accusation. Western Greyhound has expanded considerably over the past few years, in many cases providing services with small buses on corridors which we used to run. I don’t think he feels “run off the road” at all!
And as for Chester City Transport – the Council decided to put it up for sale. We were one of the bidders but meanwhile Arriva registered on their routes and found themselves in the High Court. Eventually the potential buyers disappeared but we stayed in and paid the City Council real money to buy their loss-making bus company which was about to face stiff competition.
Arriva’s competitive services started on the day we took over and we remain in competition to this day.
There is room in the market for large and small operators and I assure you there are very stringent laws in place to prevent predatory activity, with commensurate penalties!
Omnibuses also features today an issue about the safety of reversing. It quotes from an article in the trade press and mentions that no trace was found of any law preventing reversing with passengers. I maintain there is - it was actually a question on my PSV driving test. “What would you do if you drove into a cul-de-sac with a bus full of people?” “Stop and get the passengers off” was the correct answer.
Think about this for a minute. You do now have umpteen passengers milling around outside for your reversing movement – wouldn't they be safer inside?
Another point is the feature of “drive in/reverse out” bays at bus stations (they have always been around but there seem to be more now). At First we don’t like them at all as it seems to introduce a risk which doesn’t need to be there at all. Try as you might unwitting pedestrians and sometimes staff are wandering about in the vehicle movement area. London has never had them and their bus stations are as crowded, busy and in a tight spot as anyone’s. We try and avoid them if possible but in many cases the design and development is in the hands of a local authority so we have to live with it.
What do you think?