Bus firm fined over lateness

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WIGAN public transport bosses will hold urgent talks with a bus firm heavily fined for punctuality breaches.

North Western Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell ordered that Bryn-based First Manchester pay a £285,000 fine after hearing that a QUARTER of all their services have been running late.

She also urged passengers to continue to report punctuality problems so that they could now monitor the group’s pledges to improve their operational performance over the coming year.

Head of Network Performance at watchdogs Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Howard Hartley said today that it was “regrettable” that First, the borough’s biggest bus service operator, had fallen short of the acceptable standard demanded.

They will be meeting with them to discuss their performance and look at how they can improve their services.

He said: “It’s important to us that passengers in Greater Manchester have access to bus services that are punctual and reliable. More than 225 million journeys are made by bus in Greater Manchester every year, accounting for around 80 per cent of all journeys made by public transport, and we expect all bus operators to provide services of an acceptable standard.”

In her summing up, Traffic Commissioner Ms Bell, whose offices are based in Stone Cross Lane, Golborne, said First management had been ‘complacent’ about the lateness of services.

She said: “I want to send a message out that, without imposing a penalty, First Manchester would not have focused its mind enough to meet the legislation. In my view, it hasn’t taken enough proactive action to improve services to passengers.”

A spokesman for First Manchester said that it was devoting a significant amount of time and resource to ensuring that it provided a punctual and reliable service for its customers.

He said: “We are committed to engaging with all relevant parties to ensure that network disruption is kept to a minimum. Indeed, the Traffic Commissioner recognised the role that local authorities and Transport for Greater Manchester must play in improving and sustaining service quality. We are committed to investing in improving bus services in Greater Manchester.”