No punishment for Stagecoach Midlands managers
Following the fatal bus crash in Coventry involving a Stagecoach Midlands bus, no punishment has been meted out for the operator’s managers.
The decision was made by Nicholas Denton, Traffic Commissioner, who also ruled the standard international PSV operator’s licence held by Midland Red (South) Ltd (trading as Stagecoach Midlands) is to be curtailed for a limited period. The licence is to be varied so the maximum number of vehicles it can operate is reduced from 261 to 200 for the period of 28 days, with effect from 1 April until 29 April 2019. The repute of the company and of its transport managers is retained.
Nicholas Denton said: “This regulatory action is a strong warning to the company that it has failed to come up to expectations in ensuring the safety of its staff and other road users, and that if such a failure is ever repeated then the complete loss of its right to operate would be the likely consequence.”
On 3 October 2015 a Midland Red (South) bus driven by Kailash Chander was involved in an incident in which two people were killed and two more seriously injured. Mr Chander was aged 77 at the time. Following a trial, the jury concluded that he had committed two offences of causing death by dangerous driving and two offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The operator was found culpable and received a £2.3m fine from the court.
In his decision on this case, Nicholas Denton said: “It is clear to me from the evidence that the tragic incident on 3 October 2015 was not the result of a one-off error by one person within the company, but of a series of errors, committed over time by several people at various levels within the company, and of a system which was not adequate to identify and address those errors before they had tragic consequences.
“In considering whether to take regulatory action against the company, and if so the degree of such action, I must first myself the Priority Freight question: how likely is it that the company will comply in future? In this instance, I recognise that I am not – as I so often do – dealing with a company whose compliance record is generally poor. Indeed, its compliance record generally is very good.”
The Traffic Commissioner believes the circumstances in which the company failed to identify a potentially dangerous driver and allowed him to continue to drive and work for excessive hours will not be repeated.
He said: “In considering regulatory action, I have also borne in mind that, if I were to revoke the company’s licence or impose a substantial period of suspension, there could be a perverse result in that some or all of its services might be taken over by other operators some of which might have less rigorous standards and/or driver safety procedures than Midland Red (South) Ltd has now developed. Or, if large numbers of people were to be displaced from the company’s bus services into cars or onto bicycles for a period of time, the roads would be more congested and incidents made more, rather than less, likely.”