Jason Edwards, Director of the family-run Edwards Coaches of South Wales has praised the strength of a nearly-new Mercedes-Benz Tourismo, for avoiding fatalities in a recent crash.The 15-plate tri-axle was returning home with 39 people on a trip to Lake Como, Italy, and was stationary when it was hit hard from behind by a lorry in roadworks close to Zurich at 1215hrs on 4 September.A lorry loaded with asphalt stopped to pull onto the site access, and was rear-ended by another lorry, causing it to smash into the back of a mail lorry and the coach.The coach was pushed into the lorry in front by the impact.In total 41 people were injured, four of them seriously, with 20 ambulances and three helicopters used to take people from the scene to hospital.Most of the passengers were from Wales and received minor cuts and bruises, along with some having leg and arm fractures.
Sightseeing and shuttles are first expected market for product, but range is to increase in the futureBYD’s C9 electric coach can give a range of upto 200km, manufacturer saysThe world’s first pure electric coach made its debut in Hanover, with BYD displaying the 12m, 51-seat C9. It says that the C9 is – for now – “fully suited” to city sightseeing work and airport and hotel shuttle duties, although its capabilities will increase later.BYD Europe Managing Director Isbrand Ho says that, fully laden, the 18-tonne GVW C9 delivers a range of 140-200km dependent on air-conditioning use, but the firm has already outlined how it plans to improve battery efficiency by 10% year-on-year, which will permit range increases.“The BYD electric coach is already a perfectly viable sightseeing vehicle and suitable for shuttle work,” says Mr Ho. “We have two customers in Paris already for 15 coaches and will deliver the first to them by the end of 2016.”He adds that the coach has “excellent luggage capacity” and can be fully charged in three hours.Internally, the C9 shown at Hanover has leather seats and air-conditioning, and apart from a lack of noise, displays no obvious signs to passengers that it is electrically powered.Should demand dictate, the electric coach range – which is to include a smaller C8 variant and, initially for the North American market, the tri-axle C10 – will come to the UK, and BYD sees possibilities in London commuter services, besides other potential uses. Mr Ho says that the UK is already one of BYD’s two largest markets in Europe.“City authorities in Europe are increasingly focusing on the emissions from diesel-fuelled coaches on their streets. Our new model addresses their concerns and provides operators with a cost-effective and practical solution,” he adds. The C9 has two 180kW motors. read more
Stagecoach North East is inviting budding engineers to apply for a place on this year’s apprenticeship scheme.Chris Stobbs from South Hylton in Sunderland finished the apprenticeship last year and was offered a position at the depotThe company is offering places on its Bus Engineers’ programme across its South Shields, Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside depots.One successful graduate of the scheme was invited to join the team on completion of his course in 2016.
Stagecoach North Scotland employees have taken part in a vital training session as part of the operator’s pledge to make its services more accessible to blind and partially sighted people.The company which operates throughout Aberdeen and shire, Buchan, Moray and the Highlands held a ‘swap with me’ event with drivers and passengers.Stagecoach North Scotland previously signed a charter from RNIB that commits it to meeting the needs of passengers with a visual impairment.At the event at Aberdeen Bus Station, drivers wore special ‘sim specs’ that simulate different eye conditions and experienced the barriers that blind and partially sighted passengers face when travelling. Mark Whitelocks, MD for Stagecoach North Scotland says: “We want to make it as easy and safe as possible for people who are blind and partially sighted to use our services here in North Scotland.” read more
The minicoach is the first 5.5t GVW Sprinter converted by ParamountShetland Islands operator Johnson Transport has taken delivery of the first 5.5t GVW Mercedes-Benz Sprinter finished by Paramount Conversions to be supplied by Coachtraders.It is dual-certified for either 16 or 22 seats, with a moveable rear bulkhead that can provide extensive luggage capacity when in the forward position.
The 11 Noone Turas 700-bodied Dailys are customised for VIP golf toursKerry Coaches, of Killarney, has invested in no fewer than 11 Iveco Dailys with Turas 700 bodywork, supplied by Brian Noone (0300 800 3872).The operator celebrated 60 years in business in 2017 and it is one of Ireland’s leading specialists in VIP golf excursions.The new midicoaches have been customised to suit that niche, and the dealership says that the deal “marks the single biggest investment in this sector to date by any operator in Ireland.”Kerry Coaches was founded by Johnny Buckley Sr and today it is run by his son Mike and grandson Johnny Jr. From humble beginning with a horse and cart, it now has a fleet that extends from luxury cars to 53-seat coaches. read more
Placing public transport at the heart of new building developments is an ‘idea whose time has truly come’, says the Urban Transport Group’s ChairA new report highlights the value of building housing close to quality public transport links to avoid car-based urban sprawl and traffic congestion.Tobyn Hughes, Chair of the Urban Transport Group and Managing Director of Nexus‘The place to be: How transit-orientated development can support good growth in the city regions’ report is from the Urban Transport Group, the UK’s network of city region transport authorities.It suggests that transit-orientated development – the principle of putting public transport front and centre in new residential and commercial developments – offers the potential to meet housing need without undermining the green belt or creating more traffic congestion and sprawl. This includes through locating building schemes next to or as part of existing stations or transport hubs.“Transit-orientated developments are an idea whose time has truly come,” says Urban Transport Group Chair Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus.“But if we are to embark on a new era of transit-orientated developments, and realise the benefits they can bring, we must overcome a series of obstacles and barriers around the planning and funding of these developments.”City region authorities can play their part in making more transit-orientated developments happen, the group’s report says, but they require:A national planning framework that favours transit-orientated developments over car-based, low density sprawlA national funding network with more options for ensuring that value uplift from new developments can be used to improve transport connectivityMore influence over land held by national Government agencies which would be prime sites for transit-orientated developmentsMore devolution of powers over stations where a city region transport authority has the ambition and capacity to take on responsibilitiesMeasures to improve the planning capacity of local authorities in order to respond effectively, rapidly and imaginatively to opportunities for high-quality transit-orientated development. read more
Getting younger drivers insured is an age-old problem. Some even face being uninsurable. Bear in mind this is simply on a first car, something which will cost a fraction of the price of a new coach or bus.So, if insurers struggle to trust an under-25-year-old in a ‘basic’ car bought for three figures, how can operators expect to get a younger generation of drivers into the industry behind the wheel of a six-figure vehicle?The question lies: Can insurers help with the driver shortage issue?Was it a myth?Listening to its readers, and the industry as a whole, routeone investigated operators’ views on the driver shortage issue [routeone/Big Story/13 March].It contacted 69 operators, large and small, from both the coach and bus industry with the aim of finding out if all operators were sharing the same experience and challenges.Overall, feedback shows that operators are all in the same the boat. Driver shortage is a big problem and the industry and its suppliers need to come together to find a solution.Can insurers help?One question routeone asked operators was: Do you think the industry or government can do anything to help with the driver shortage?Terry McIntyre, Director of Hoddesdon-based Golden Boy Coaches, is one operator who raised the subject of insurance.“I am not exactly sure what the industry or government can do to help the driver shortage, however, I do have strong feelings on what insurance companies could do to help, particularly in relation to younger drivers,” he says.“After 22 years with the same insurance provider, where difficult operational restrictions were imposed by the insurer on drivers under 25-years of age, and for those with less than two years’ experience, we changed provider in December 2018.”Change was neededThe firm, Mr McIntyre explains, changed to an insurer where no age restrictions are applied. And it is already making driver recruitment easier for Golden Boy as it is no longer “hitting the frustrating obstacles” in the early stages of trying to employ what it sees as suitable younger candidates. “While I understand that the insurance industry actually ‘takes the risk’ and bases its terms from statistics, I do feel that operators should be allowed to police the situation to some extent,” he adds.“I am sure that not many of us would allocate one of our vehicles worth in the region of £350,000-400,000 to a driver that we didn’t have confidence in. “It’s a difficult one, but we certainly feel like the shackles have been taken off since we’ve had the young driver restrictions lifted.”Busting the mythsDarren Curd, Associate Director at Wrightsure, says that being unable to recruit young drivers is “somewhat of a misnomer – to us here at Wrightsure, anyway.”He explains that there are some insurers that “make our life a little bit more difficult than others” and one or two are still wanting to adopt a warranty of drivers being over 25, under 70 and with two years’ experience.“But even if this does apply, an application to add a young or inexperienced driver with the right paperwork will have them added to the policy with an increased excess and/or restricted to lower value vehicles for a short time quite easily.”Ultimately, Mr Curd says it’s not more difficult to get insurance for younger drivers, just an additional process we have to go through with the right information.“It’s only difficult if an operator has an imbalance between their fleet size and the number of declared young drivers,” he says.“Operators just need to ensure that their desired driver ‘warranty’ suits their business needs for the year ahead, and more crucially, choose an insurance broker that is a PSV specialist which understands the sector and has direct access to underwriters.”Mr Curd adds that the industry is already changing its stance; there’s only a couple of insurers now that haven’t changed their policies. Most just give “any licenced driver” now or widened their warranty to [say] “any licenced driver over 21 and with one years’ experience”.“It is the insurer that sets the policy, but ours is to get “any licenced driver” every time.”How can Wrightsure help?“Unfortunately, operators have an ingrained disposition towards price and so we can’t force them to insure via Wrightsure. However, with 40 years of specialising in passenger transport, all our staff are well versed in ensuring that operators get the cover they need.“Indeed, some of our clients run training and academy programmes or have clauses on their policy to provide in house driver training.”www.wrightsure.com read more
Cottingham-based ND Plastics lost its bid for a new one-vehicle restricted licence after telling Traffic Commissioner (TC) Tim Blackmore that a party bus the company acquired as a bad debt payment would just be a small “add on” part of the business at a Leeds Public Inquiry.The TC made in plain that holding an O-Licence was a serious business and not just an “add on”.Asked why the directors, his wife and brother, were not present, Sales Manager Neil Dransfield said that they were away as it was the school half term holiday. They had not intended to get a party bus – it just happened, so they decided to apply for a licence.The TC said that there was no evidence before him that the requirements for holding a licence were met. He needed evidence of the maintenance and drivers’ hours systems. On the application form the section about drivers’ hours was ticked as not applicable. As the bus would be operated for hire or reward it was applicable. The onus was on the company and its directors to assure him that those things were in place. Before he got on to other issues, he needed to be satisfied that they could run a satisfactory and compliant operation. It was important that he knew who he was regulating and he would have thought that the directors would have made an effort to attend as it was them who he would be giving a licence to.After Mr Dransfield had said that he knew more about it than his brother and wife, the TC said that the directors of the company had to have the knowledge. There was a list of undertakings on the application form which the directors had signed to say that they had that knowledge. He was being told that they did not, so he had been misled.In reply to the TC, Mr Dransfield said that he had not heard of the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness.The TC pointed out that the ultimate responsibility lay with the directors as it was the directors he trusted with a licence. It was not something they could delegate. He would like to see them go on an O-Licence awareness course, so they understood how to meet the necessary requirements. What the company needed to do was to make a compliant application. It was all available online and there was plenty of professional advice out there. In regard to the bus, the information on the COIF did not match up with what was on the V5 or with what the Traffic Examiner had seen of the bus on the ground. A notifiable application needed to be made and the V5 amending.The family needed to go away and have a conversation over whether they wanted to do this. He could not guarantee they would be granted a licence but, if they did everything that was needed, the chances were they would if they made a fresh application. read more
National Express has seen demand for its scheduled coach services more than double during the first stages of the student travel window for homeward-bound university attendees, which it says has vindicated its decision to add capacity to a reduced network.During the first four days of the travel window between 3-6 December, which coincided with the relaxation of restrictions in England, overall patronage rose by 122% when compared to the same period for the previous week.The increase in travel demand was predictably much higher for locations with large student populations, says National Express. In Leicester it grew by 147%, in Birmingham by 159%, in Nottingham by 166% and in Bristol by 173%. National Express Coach Commercial Director John Boughton adds that bookings for the final days of the travel window show an overall increase of around 160%.Additional capacity will also serve general growth in demand for coach travel during December. National Express says that traffic to its website has seen an increase, with a “noticeable trend” in searches for journeys to and from London in December. Other popular destinations include major cities.National Express continues to liaise with the Department for Transport in regard to a need for a “national coach network” when making decisions on where further capacity will be provided, it adds. read more