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Amateurish firm ran unsafe buses in Wolverhampton

Dudley | News | Published:

A bus firm that put passengers on unsafe vehicles with corroded brakes has had its routes withdrawn and been banned from running new services.

Wolverhampton's Travel Express has also been slapped with a £6,500 fine after a damning public inquiry.

Traffic commissioner Nick Jones said that the Dudley Road firm is run by a 'hopeless' manager and that 36 defects were found on nine of its 13 buses.

Mr Jones slammed Travel Express for being 'amateurish' - buses ran ahead of schedule in a bid to pick up passengers who would otherwise board with rival firms - and branded manager Kishan Chumber 'incompetent'.

The firm is now being forced by the industry regulator to reduce its fleet from 13 to eight vehicles from March 15. It has also been banned from running any new bus routes until March 2016 and will lose two of its routes.

During the investigation into Travel Express, buses were found to be unsafe and dirty, with basic safety principles unmet and no cleaner employed.

The report says of Mr Chumber: "He is both sole director and transport manager but appears to lack basic professional competence either as a manager or as an engineer."

The traffic commissioner also noted there had been 'clear interference' with a rival operator, with a driver indicating that the firm expected drivers to maximise passenger numbers. In one instance, a bus was seen turning round to return to a bus stop it had just departed from to pick up a passenger.

Mr Chumber denied that he told drivers to operate outside of their timetables.

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But Mr Jones added: "This operator has reduced income of other legitimate operators as a result of poor and illegal practices.

"Whether intended or not, Kishan Chumber's incompetent management and lack of control has resulted in vehicles carrying passengers when they are unsafe.

"Moreover in the case of two routes the actions of drivers has been unacceptable.

"There has been a detrimental effect on rival operators.

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"The travelling public are far less likely to be encouraged to use public transport when faced with dirty, unsafe vehicles running other than to registered timetables."

The report found Mr Chumber prioritised getting vehicles out on to the road as opposed to running them in a roadworthy state.

Some ran early, others ran late and some buses failed to run at all. They also went off route.

The number one from Wolverhampton to Tettenhall Wood and the number two from Wolverhampton to Bushbury Hill will be cancelled from March 15.

Travel Express was unavailable for comment.

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