Coach firm to halve fleet after wheels come off

Wheels came off one bus during a school trip. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Wheels came off one bus during a school trip. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A COACH company has been ordered to halve its fleet after two wheels came off one of its vehicles as it took children on a school trip.

McKendry’s Coaches of Loanhead was found to have a “lack of effective control” over staff and the activities of its maintenance department.

Deputy Traffic Commissioner Simon Evans ruled the company’s licence to run ten coaches should be reduced to just five for an indefinite period.

The firm, run by Anne McKendry, appeared before Mr Evans at a public inquiry on February 1 following an investigation into its vehicle maintenance and safety. He has now issued his decision in writing.

The inquiry heard how two wheels had become detached from a coach operated by the firm in May last year while it was carrying school children on a trip from Peebles to West Linton.

One parent described at the time how pupils heard a “loud grinding noise”, then saw one wheel roll past the coach.

Mr Evans also noted the operator had been convicted for permitting alcohol to be carried on a coach carrying football supporters and fined £500.

In evidence to the Deputy Commissioner, an examiner from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency reported problems with the operator’s 
maintenance systems.

He concluded that three factors had contributed to the wheel loss, including the fact that the driver on the day had not carried out a walk-round check to visually identify any defects on the vehicle.

Ms McKendry told the Deputy Commissioner things had not progressed as she would have wanted after a previous public inquiry in March 2012.

However, she added steps had been taken to remind drivers of their obligations about walk-round checks and for employees to attend courses. The firm has dismissed the driver involved in the wheel loss 

Nr Evans said: “My consideration must primarily be based on my assessment of the size of operation that I feel can be handled safely by the operator.

“In the years to come it may be built back but for now I conclude that nothing short of halving the fleet would be enough.”