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Safety paramount for bus services

Published: 18/11/2010 5:54 p.m. 

Environment Canterbury, which manages the Metro bus system in Greater Christchurch, welcomes the safety checks being made on the bus fleet this week but is extremely disappointed at the flow-on effect this has had on passengers.

“We understand that a number of buses, largely owned by Christchurch Bus Services but also some owned by Red Bus and Leopard, have been removed from service as a result of routine checks which started three days ago by the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit of the NZ Police,” said Wayne Holton-Jeffreys, acting director operations, Environment Canterbury.

The impact of the checks on the other contractors, Red Bus and Leopard, has been minimal.

Mr Holton-Jeffreys said that in recent weeks Environment Canterbury had become increasingly concerned at the service being offered by Christchurch Bus Services. 

“There have been protracted negotiations over the sale of CBS recently. Earlier this week we gave the company until 5pm on Friday (November 19) to complete the sale. If CBS is not able to complete the sale, Environment Canterbury will be withdrawing contracts.

“The regional council requires bus companies to have safe vehicles on the road at all times. They have to have a certificate of fitness for the bus to be operating and these vehicles must be maintained to that standard at all times that they are operating.

“Environment Canterbury is doing all that it can and working hard with operators to get safety-approved buses back on the roads as soon as possible.

“The removal of a significant number of buses means that Christchurch Bus Services may not be in a position to meet all their contractual obligations on some routes. Environment Canterbury apologises to bus patrons for the failure of these trips,” he said.

Environment Canterbury takes a strong stance with any company unable to deliver the required level of service, said Mr Holton-Jeffreys.  “Consequences will include reduced monthly contract payments through to the imposition of penalties, in line with contractual arrangements.

“Throughout the current temporary shortage of buses, Environment Canterbury has attempted to negotiate with Red Bus Ltd to lease their spare capacity. This current situation regarding safety simply makes this situation more urgent.  The company, part of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd, has not been willing to negotiate, much to Environment Canterbury’s disappointment, particularly given the flow-on effect of the situation to bus passengers.”

For further information: Wayne Holton-Jeffreys, Acting Director Operations, Environment Canterbury, 03 372 7234 or 027 432 6250.

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