Finchampstead-based Courtney Buses has won a contract for eight Wokingham routes from July, previously held by Go-Ahead owned Thames Travel..Routes 121-124 run in and around the town centre and 126-129 run from Wokingham, through Winnersh, Hurst, Twyford, Sonning to Reading.Courtney is taking delivery of two new Optare Solos to help in its operations.Says Transport Manager Simon Fisher: â€œCourtney Buses has been operating for 41 years and began life in Wokingham when our MD, Bill Courtney-Smith, bought two taxi services before turning to running coaches and, in the 1980s, becoming a bus company.â€
Two reasonsâ€œIgnorance is no excuse,â€ he says. â€œWhen a driver is found not to be entitled, in the worst-case scenario, their employer is culpable for corporate manslaughter.â€The Corporate Manslaughter Act of 2007 made companies potentially liable, for the first time, for the offence as a result of serious management failures, resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.In a serious incident, a police investigation will establish whether the driver’s licence was valid and had been properly checked by the company. If the company doesn’t have a robust licence-checking policy in place, they could be found guilty.â€œThe Corporate Manslaughter Act affects everyone, right up to board level,â€ says Richard. â€œIf the fleet manager doesn’t propose a commercial licence-checking system, the board can say ‘no one suggested it’, whereas if the board hears the proposal and says ‘we’re not buying it’, at least the fleet manager has done their job.â€The other reason for the growth is the paper counterpart’s imminent scrappage, which has been postponed from January: Operators are looking for a new way of doing things, says Richard, and â€œwe make it really easy for them.â€ The paper counterpart of the UK driving licence will be abolished in June. How can operators continue to check their drivers’ entitlement and stay compliant? Jessamy Chapman talks to Licencecheck, a pioneer of licence verification and still innovating.On 8 June, the paper counterpart of the UK driving licence will no longer be issued by the DVLA, and existing copies will cease to be valid.The reality is that coach and bus operators with a robust policy of checking their drivers’ licences shouldn’t be too put out by this. The counterpart presented to an operator by the driver, after all, has no guarantee of validity.A driver with convictions or points on their licence may present an older version of the counterpart that they have retained. And, as with anything on paper, forgery is a risk.In fact, the only way you can check that the driver’s record presented to you is a true copy is to contact the DVLA. Full monitoringRichard says Licencecheck is not just a ‘check’, but a full monitoring service. It offers operators a full audit trail, and once a driver is on the system, it’s a simple matter of pressing a button to re-check their information. â€œIt removes the risk for an organisation of missing anything,â€ he says.As well as disqualifications, revocations and penalty points, each check includes licence expiry dates, category entitlements and restrictions, endorsements including their conviction and expiry dates, and even medical due dates.In short, the operator gets a complete and accurate picture of the driver’s entitlement to drive.Operators can set up their Licencecheck account to suit their own needs, setting driver checks at varying intervals depending on the number of points each driver may have, for example. The checks then take place without any further administrative input from the company.Licencecheck is a CPT member and has Preferred Supplier status for Coachmarque. It is ISO27001:2013 accredited â€“ a best practice standard for information security management systems.It currently has around 650 customers, and its coach and bus operating clients include Llandudno-based Alpine Travel. Managing Director Chris Owens says: â€œThe nominal check fee more than pays for itself in the time saved manually processing the necessary checks, and the lack of human interface reduces the opportunity for mistakes to be made.â€œWe’ve used Licencecheck for a year or so now, and found it to be an incredibly simple and yet extremely comprehensive, cost-effective solution for the continual checking, validating and auditing of our workers’ entitlement to drive.â€ Admin saverAs well as ensuring your business is protected from unlicensed drivers, a major benefit of Licencecheck’s service is that it cuts down on administration, as well as the risk of human error.A typical system for operators who manually check drivers’ licences is to ask the driver to show them the counterpart every six months, and record the data on a spreadsheet.Once the counterpart is gone, the driver could access their DVLA record online, print off the information and give it to their employer. However, this method is not approved by the DVLA, and the information is insecure and could be edited.To be entirely sure, the company should contact the DVLA.Either way, the administration for a company with tens or hundreds of drivers would add up to a considerable amount of time, and cost. In contrast, says Richard, each check made by Licencecheck â€œcosts less than a gallon of fuel.â€Licencecheck currently uses an overnight batch service to request checks, which delivers the results on the next working day. However, this is shortly to change as it introduces RealTime, which will use new technology from the DVLA to offer on-the-spot licence checking, with results in seconds.Currently in beta, with the full version expected to go live in May, RealTime also gives drivers the option of giving ‘digital consent’ for their employers to check their licence, rather than the paper consent form (all employers must have their drivers’ consent to check their records; consent is given for three years as long as the driver remains at that firm). Full system onlineThe DVLA is in the process of producing its own open service portal for commercial vehicle operators to check their drivers’ licences online.It currently offers an online portal for drivers to access their licence record, called View Driving Licence (VDL). However, this is only intended for the licence holder to view their own details, not for third party or commercial access.The DVLA is currently working to develop a range of secure data enquiry services for third parties to check licences. As it stands, once the counterpart is abolished, operators will be able to access their drivers’ data either through the DVLA’s premium rate phone line, writing to the DVLA â€“ or through a commercial intermediary that is a member of the DVLA’s Electronic Driver Entitlement Checking Service.Licencecheck is such an intermediary: One of the first, in fact, and a founding member of the Association for Driving Licence Verification.It was incorporated in 2008, and turned its attention fully to providing a driving licence verification service in 2011.In the last two years, the Nottingham-based firm has redeveloped its offering into a flexible, fully-hosted online system. At the same time, it has grown massively â€“ increasing business 170% in the last year alone.This is partly, says founder and Managing Director Richard Brown, because operators are growing more aware of the need to ensure checks and balances are in place.
Haverthwaite-based Lecks Travel ceased trading last week, having served South Cumbria for more than 90 years.All 11 staff have been made redundant and the firm, owned by sole director Ann Newby, 48, is to enter voluntary liquidation at a creditors’ meeting on 25 August. It holds a 10-vehicle O-Licence.Established in 1924 under the guise of Lecks Garage, it began small taxi runs for the local school, which eventually led to its rebrand as Lecks Travel in 1997.It has contacted customers and full refunds for future bookings have been made. It also ran a free shoppers’ bus service, under contract to Booths supermarket, but this contract was to be terminated by Booths on 31 August.In a statement, liquidators The P&A Partnership said: â€œNew school contracts had been greatly undercut and ongoing increasing costs, time and effort of running the business all had an effect on this decision.â€œBuyers are being sought to take over the company bookings going forward.â€œShort term arrangements have been made for immediate bookings.â€
Arriva Yorkshire is helping customers beat their January blues by giving away free bus travel.People living on the 268A route will get a West Yorkshire day ticket delivered straight to their door, complimentary of Arriva Yorkshire.To claim the free day’s travel, customers simply fill out the voucher explaining what they will be using the bus for this January. What’s more, all vouchers will be entered into a prize draw to win £200.The MAX 268/268A route facilitates quick, direct links at low cost prices into Bradford, Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, Dewsbury, Ossett and Wakefield.It also offers customers free Wi-Fi, journey planning technology and e-leather seats.Arriva Yorkshire Area Managing Director Jon Croxford says: “We are committed to providing the best possible journey that we can for our customers; which is why we are giving away free travel, so passengers can hop on board and experience this for themselves.”
Lothian Buses has been awarded Policing Partner of the Year at the Scottish Police Excellence Awards, for the success of its partnership created in 2015 with Police Scotland Edinburgh Division.As part of the partnership, Lothian Buses and PC Cochrane worked with schoolsPC Julie Cochrane has worked with staff at Lothian Buses to provide support and advice on difficult situations, preventing crime, and anti-social behaviour.Says Claudine Molloy, Head of Operations Lothian Buses: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Police Scotland. This award further cements the work we have done together over the past 18 months.”
Mix of two- and three-axle coaches takes Henley-in-Arden operator’s 2017 fleet investment to £1.5mCommercial Director John Johnson (right) and Lee Wale of Scania GBJohnsons Coach Travel has taken delivery of five new Scania Interlink HD Finesse coaches as the Henley-in-Arden operator continues 2017’s fleet investment programme.Four of the new Interlinks are 12.8m, two-axle coaches. Two are to 49-seat Club Class specification that will be used on the operator’s day trips and holidays, while two are wheelchair-accessible 53-seaters. The fifth is a 14.1m, 63-seat tri-axle.“We have been impressed with the reliability of the previous OmniExpress product, and when the new Interlink became available we liked it straight away,” says Commercial Director John Johnson (pictured, left, with Scania Regional Account Manager Lee Wale).“We immediately noted the deeper windows, the lower aisle step and the overall build quality. With the added benefit of Scania’s repair and maintenance package, we were happy to choose Interlinks this year.”The five new Scanias represent a further increase in the number of Euro 6 coaches in the Johnsons fleet, which was further bolstered earlier in 2017 by the delivery of a further two 35-seat Yutong TC9s.In another significant order for the Interlink HD Finesse, Scania is part way through completing a 15-coach order placed by London operator Anderson Travel.
Charlestown Harbour is open to the public for the first time, with trade returning to the historic Cornwall port.‘New era of trade’ for harbour and Shipwreck CentreTo celebrate, the Grayhound, a replica 18th century three-masted tall ship, delivered a consignment to the adjacent Shipwreck Museum and Heritage Centre, with visitors given the chance to buy items.The harbourside has been closed for the exclusive use of trade ships and film companies, but now the public can visit and see an authentic 18th century ship, the Phoenix.George Elworthy, new owner of the Shipwreck Centre and Heritage Museum, says: “We want to bring both the harbour and the museum alive again and pay homage to the explorers and traders of the past.“We now plan to embark on a new era of trade.”
Bus Vannin is the latest Ticketer customer to launch the company’s app, ZipTrip, to transform the way people get around the Isle of Man by bus.Ticketer has developed ZipTrip to put bus service information in the hands of passengers. It includes detailed route information, live departure times and how to find their nearest bus stop.The information comes direct from the ticket machnies on each Bus Vannin vehicle.At the ZipTrip launch, Jason Moorhouse MHK, Member with responsibility for Public Transport, said: “ZipTrip is a great tool for our passengers and caters for a range of customer needs. Tourists, for example, who may not know exactly where they are, will be able to use the free bus wifi and track themselves on the map.“And commuters who have had a long day at work and fancy a little nap on the way home can set an alert to make sure they don’t sleep past their stop.”As well as providing up to date information regarding each vehicle location, this data is combined with the scheduled timetables to provide real-time predictions of bus arrival times at each stop on the island.John Clarfelt, Managing Director of Ticketer, concludes: “ZipTrip is a hugely popular app, which gives passengers instant access to all kinds of useful information, putting them firmly in control of their travel plans.”As well as providing passengers with details about whether a service is running on time, and if not then showing an estimated time of arrival, the Ticketer ETMs provide management data for analysing the punctuality and efficiency of scheduled services.Ian Longworth, Director of Transport Services for Bus Vannin, commented: “We have had an exciting year so far, with the introduction of Traveline journey planner, then contactless payment on buses and now ZipTrip. A future development is set to include ticket sales available through ZipTrip – and reinforces how we continue to put customers’ needs first.”ZipTrip is available for passengers to download on all Apple or Google Play devices.
Mandata’s Tacho Now service is compatible with TruAnalysis from TruTacTransport management technology specialist Mandata’s Tacho Now digital tachograph downloading service now works with TruTac’s TruAnalysis software and compliance products.That enables tachograph data to be downloaded by Mandata and automatically sent on regular schedules to third-party vendors for analysis and compliance reporting.Doing so provides efficiencies and savings for operators because the process is fully automatic, removing the need for manual downloading and exporting of driver and vehicle data.The new capability will be an integral part of Tacho Now. It enables driver data to be collected automatically from tachograph units on a daily basis, and weekly from vehicle units.As a result, the burden of having to continually arrange manual data downloading when drivers and vehicles are away from base is reduced, saving considerable administration time and cost. Additionally, the risk of information being lost and of gaps in records developing is removed.Furthermore, one-off or ad-hoc downloads can be performed by the operator via a secure web portal when required.An automated warning is flashed if a vehicle’s 90-day or a driver’s 28-day limit for downloading is approaching.www.mandata.co.uk
Nine coaches have been targeted in the last five weeks, with no other vehicles affectedAnother coach was vandalised at the Clarion Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford on Saturday.Nine coaches have been broken into or damaged in the last five weeks in what the hotel describes as a recent “social issue”.So far, only coaches have been targeted.Clarion Cedar Court claims it is “devastated” and is doing everything in its power to resolve the issue.Since the problems began, the hotel says it has taken several measures, including on-site security and a cordoned off area of the car park to give coaches priority close to the building.The hotel is also offering drivers off-site parking at Bradford interchange if they are not comfortable – with drivers’ travel costs back to the hotel paid for.Wayne Topley, Managing Director of Cedar Court Hotels, believes the issue is down to petty vandalism.He tells routeone: “From the details provided by the drivers to the police very little has been taken from the coaches. We are dealing with a social issue that has now become our direct concern.“We’re facing this absolutely head on – this is a massive risk to the drivers, passengers, my team and our business. We do not take lightly the impact this has had.“I want to apologise in person to the drivers and the operators for the issues the incidents have caused, we will not rest until they are resolved and our coaches are safe.”