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Black Country bus operator hit with seven year ban

By Jordan Harris | Walsall | Transport | Published:

A bus operator who had 'little or no idea' about his responsibilities has been handed a seven year ban by the West Midlands Traffic Commissioner.

A Sandwell Travel bus operating in Walsall - picture credit Dennis Dart

The owner of a Tipton based bus firm Sandwell Travel Ltd, which ran services in Walsall, Birmingham, Bilston, Darlaston, Brownhills, Willenhall and West Bromwich – has had his transport licence revoked until 2024 after an inquiry.

Sukhwinder Singh has also been disqualified indefinitely from acting as a transport manager, following the public inquiry held by Nick Denton in Birmingham last week.

Investigations by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed a number of issues, including that one of the company’s vehicles had lost a wheel on a busy A road in November 2016 and that the company had an 83 per cent failure rate for vehicle MOTs.

As well as this, some vehicles operated by the company had not been given safety inspections on time – in one instance, there was a 45 week gap between checks

Another concern was that after October 2016, the company did not have any experienced or mechanically qualified staff, even though vehicles were serviced on site.

In a report, the West Midlands Traffic Commissioner said Mr Singh had “signally failed to ensure the proper maintenance of the company’s vehicles” and also found bus services had not run according to punctuality and reliability standards.

He added: “Unqualified maintenance staff have been employed, vehicle [safety] inspections missed, and a wholly inappropriate wheelnut tightening procedure practised. The MOT failure rate is appalling, and it is of great concern that Mr Singh actually thought it was good.

“It is only by good luck that serious injury or worse was not caused by the wheel loss incident. Mr Singh’s failure to appear at the inquiry, or even to offer an explanation for his non-appearance, shows that he does not take the regulatory regime, or compliance, seriously.”

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It is not the first time that Sandwell Travel Ltd has found itself in trouble.

In 2012 a hearing into the companies practices revealed that buses blocked departure stands and ran in front of rival vehicles to take their passengers.

After that hearing bosses were told the company would be banned from running local services using Bradford Place,Walsall, for three years.

The latest report reveals that 18 out of 21 bus journeys for the 336 service running to Bradford Place in Walsall didn’t operate during observations.

Meanwhile, 24 out of 148 bus journeys for the 333X service running from Walsall Bus Station to Willenhall failed to operate according to punctuality and reliability standards

Jordan Harris

By Jordan Harris
Senior Reporter - @JHarris_Star

Reporter covering Staffordshire/Walsall - also a keen gig goer

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