Nexus has dropped its bid for a Quality Contracts Scheme (QCS) in the North East.Tobyn Hughes: Nexus has decided not to proceed with QCSIn a letter to Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney, published on Nexus’s website, MD (Transport Operations) Tobyn Hughes wrote: “Further to consideration of both the QCS Board opinion and Nexus’ analysis, the North East Combined Authority (NECA) resolved at its meeting on 24 March 2016 to bring the QCS process to an end.“In accordance with Section 126C (7) of the Transport Act 2000, Nexus on behalf of the NECA, writes to give notice to the QCS Board of its decision not to proceed with the proposed scheme.”The QCS Board rejected Nexus’ bid for a QCS in November (routeONE, News, 4 November).Speaking at the UK Bus Summit in February, Mr Hughes had stated Nexus’ intention to continue to press for a QCS (routeONE, News, 17 February), saying: “We were right and we don’t agree with the QCS Board’s decision. …We still plan to introduce an integrated, affordable, healthy, vibrant bus system in the North East and we will achieve that eventually.”
Around 1,000 First drivers in Leeds at Bramley and Hunslet Park depots went on strike on 20 June, the second consecutive Monday, after talks broke down last week.Union Unite says First refused to improve its offer and argues that First drivers in Halifax earn nearly £2 an hour more.First Leeds MD â€¨Paul Matthews says: “We’ve again presented several ways that the union’s demand could be met to try to end this dispute.“Our offers continue to be well above inflation, as the pay deals have been each year for the last four years. In response, Unite are now demanding even higher pay increases in their alternative proposals.“I remain determined to bring this dispute to an end with a very fair and reasonable pay offer for our hard working drivers but not one that will damage the future of the business and bring fare rises for our customers.”
Characters from the legendary tale, Robin Hood, make up four new character buses in Nottinghamshire, in the run-up to the Robin Hood Festival in August. Buses on the Sherwood Arrow have been re-brandedStagecoach East Midlands has re-branded its Sherwood Arrow route by introducing four character buses: Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck.The route, partly funded by Nottinghamshire County Council, serves rural areas between Nottingham, Ollerton, Worksop and Retford and attractions including Sherwood Forest, Rufford Park, Wheelgate Park and White Post Farm.Says Stagecoach East Midlands MD Michelle Hargreaves: “With the area’s strong links to the legendary tale, it seemed fitting to incorporate this into the rural service.Public launches take place in Ollerton on 26 July and Worksop on 27 July.Stagecoach is also the official partner for the 32nd annual Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood on 1-7 August.
SmartDrive’s safety solution saves operators money, while helping to protect their drivers, passengers and fleetOperators go to great lengths to ensure their vehicles offer passengers the best possible experience, and with vehicle improvements – such as on-board wi-fi and contactless payments – becoming increasingly popular, SmartDrive’s video safety solution ensures the driving is up to scratch as well.While the main focus is to advance safe driving, it also delivers a solid return on investment – helping to save on fuel, reduce insurance premiums and injury claims, and save on vehicle wear and tear.How it worksSmartDrive’s SmartRecorder is a compact, yet robust system that can integrate with existing on-board CCTV and comprises both a forward-facing and interior-facing camera.The SmartRecorder is triggered by unusual driving patterns, such as swervingIt is a driver behaviour system that is triggered by unusual driving patterns, such as hard braking, swerving, or speeding. When such a manoeuvre takes place, a 20-second video event clip is captured and offloaded instantly via the cellular network to SmartDrive’s response centre, for expert review and analaysis.The forward-facing camera reveals what was going on outside the vehicle before, after, and during the incident, while the interior camera shows what the driver was doing when the incident took place and, in many instances, depending on camera positioning, what was happening with passengers at that time.Integrated GPS means the location of the incident is shown, as well as the speed of the vehicle, and a built-in microphone captures event related audio. It therefore provides operators with the complete picture: Revealing what has happened during an incident and, in the majority of cases, why it happened.An operator can then use the SmartDrive Response Centre to get fast access to the video, allowing them to react in a timely manner and have their vehicle back up and running as quickly as possible if the incident has taken it off the road. It is also extremely beneficial when dealing with insurance claims, to exonerate not-at-fault drivers.Driving behaviourAs well as accessing the video to see what has caused the incident, the system can also be used proactively to identify improvement opportunities in employees’ driving and to manage the driver coaching process.Operators can prioritise which risky driving behaviours they deem to be the most serious, such as mobile phone use, not wearing a seatbelt, and breaking speed limits.Each driver is scored, on a consistent scale, by SmartDrive’s expert reviewers, each time the captured video shows them carrying out such acts. Thus a driver who continuously used their phone, for example, would receive a high score, and the respective videos would automatically be put into a coaching queue, which the operator can access online. The issue can be raised with the driver, using the video evidence.Rather than using it as chastisement, it can be used in a positive and constructive way by providing the opportunity to engage in an open discussion with the driver, instead of debate and argument.It also means that drivers with a low score can be recognised and rewarded for their safe driving. Drivers can also install an app so they can monitor their own individual driving scores.The fact that drivers are aware that the system is installed in their vehicle also encourages best driving practices.Driver exonerationBeing blamed for an accident that wasn’t their fault is every driver’s nightmare, and having to take responsibility for a bogus insurance claim is an operator’s.SmartDrive’s programme shows what happened inside and outside of the vehicleAs well as promoting and improving safer driving, the system can be used to exonerate not-at-fault drivers.With SmartDrive’s programme, these claims can be reduced because it provides proof of what happened inside and outside of the vehicle, offering a clear picture of what caused the incident. However, if the video does show fault, the situation can be resolved quickly and operators can take the necessary steps to improve safety among their drivers to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.Peace of mindIt can also help cut false personal injury claims, since the footage can be used to prove whether or not a passenger was on the vehicle when an incident took place, or if the vehicle was actually involved in a collision. Operators can feel satisfied that if one of their vehicles is involved in an incident that wasn’t their driver’s fault, there is the evidence to prove it. There is also a button on the bottom of the recorder for drivers to manually activate it, should they feel the need to – again creating a safer working environment.Improve drivingAs well as potentially saving money on false or not-at-fault insurance claims, SmartDrive can also help operators save on fuel and vehicle wear and tear, and be more environmentally friendly.Driving patterns that aren’t fuel efficient or are damaging to vehicle parts, such as hard acceleration and hard braking, are flagged up and can be brought to the attention of the driver. They may not even be aware that they are driving in that manner, so the programme is an ideal coaching tool that can be used to improve individual performance.The benefits of having SmartDrive’s video safety programme on-board coaches and buses are undeniable, and it offers a solution that is flexible and unique to each operator, allowing a choice of level of protection that’s right for them.uk.smartdrive.net
The Black Country Living Museum is to open new buildings, telling the story of the region in the 1940s-1960s.Several buildings have been saved by demolition by a £9.8m Heritage Lottery grant, and will be moved brick-by-brick to the museum – including Bromwich’s Gas Showroom and Dudley’s Woodside Library.Others, including Wolverhampton’s Elephant & Castle Pub and Lye’s Marsh & Baxter’s Butchers, will be recreated from archive material and images. The Forging Ahead scheme, which totals £21.7m, will create 450 jobs and expand the museum by a third.It’s phase one of the museum’s 40-year Masterplan, which will also transform the Visitor Welcome and Learning facilities.The number of historic buildings will increase by 34%, and the number of collections on display to the public will double.Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, says: “Black Country Living Museum is a world-class attraction that tells the story of the region’s history and provides a real boost to the local economy.”
The two Noone Turas 900-bodied Ategos were supplied by Minis to MidisMaynes Coaches of Buckie has purchased a pair of Mercedes-Benz Ategos with Noone Turas 900 midicoach bodies, supplied by Minis to Midis.They are finished in the Moray operator’s recently-revised silver-based livery and are to ‘executive plus’ specification. That includes a host of extras, such as USB charging points, an in-dash fridge, wood effect flooring and a mahogany interior finish.Length 9.11mHeight 3.18mWidth 2.45mGVW 10,500kgEngine Mercedes-Benz four-cylinderPower 211bhpTorque 850NmEmissions Euro 6Gearbox Six-speed automated
21st Century Technology, has been awarded the contract to supply East Sussex County Council (ESCC) with real-time passenger information systems.In a new framework agreement, 21st Century will also install and provide support to ESCC and its partners with the latest in RTPI technology and content management software. The contract is initially valued at £0.5m, and work is due to commence this month.ESCC is working in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council, West Sussex County Council and Surrey County Council to introduce a Content Management System (CMS). They have all chosen 21st Century’s new Electronic Passenger Information (EPI) software platform, to provide the foundations for their upgrade programme, which will also see 21st Century extend and refresh the passenger information display capabilities throughout the wider region.Russ Singleton, Chief Executive of 21st Century, said: “We are delighted to be working with East Sussex County Council to enhance the capabilities of their passenger information infrastructure throughout the wider region.”
Hundreds of people attended Go North East’s event for the retirement of its fleet of Scania L94 buses.The event, which was sponsored by Scania, raised £1,000 for Gateshead Foodbank before Christmas.Go North East has invested in low carbon buses. The remaining Scania L94 buses will be withdrawn entirely in the coming months.Managing Director at Go North East, Martijn Gilbert, says: “It was great to see so many people braving the cold to come and say farewell to a bus type that has served us so well.”
D&G Bus Director Julian Peddle has renewed his attack on Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) for what he says is a failure on its part to make concessionary fare reimbursements and Our Pass payments in line with government guidance.TfGM Chief Executive Eamonn Boylan wrote to operators in Greater Manchester on 24 April. Included with Mr Boylan’s letter was a list of eight conditions that TfGM required them to meet before the concessionary reimbursement for May was made.D&G Bus and TfGM remain at odds over reimbursementThe communication followed an earlier letter from TfGM that contained 11 conditions for operators to agree to before concessionary reimbursement for April would be transferred.TfGM did not follow through on that earlier list of conditions. However, Mr Peddle says that two within the letter of 24 April are “unacceptable”, and that TfGM still intends to pay operators “below the full amounts mandated” by the government.He adds: “Yet again, TfGM has put a gun to operators’ heads, rather than working with them. What amazes me is that having failed once, and having been forced to back down, one month later it tries the same tactics again.”Mr Peddle says that while the eight conditions are within a document entitled Aims and principal objectives for collaborative working between TfGM and local bus operators during the COVID-19 pandemic (lockdown phase), TfGM did not consult with operators before it was issued.It is understood that while operators unanimously rejected the earlier list of 11 demands, at least one quickly accepted the eight conditions issued on 24 April.Our Pass gives passengers aged 16-18 free travel on local buses across Greater Manchester. TfGM says the reason that Our Pass payments continue to be made at actual levels is because the product is within a two-year pilot period.BSOG payments have been made by TfGM in full and on time. Mr Peddle also accepts that TfGM has engaged with operators regarding the Coronavirus Bus Services Support Grant, with every indication being that it will be paid as expected.TfGM: ‘Making every effort to engage with operators’In response to Mr Peddle’s comments, TfGM says it developed an interim funding package for April that allowed operators to be paid early. Following that, it worked on the same for May, with “circa 85%” of normal payments made. That “is in line with guidance from DfT and reflects the significant reduction in patronage across Greater Manchester,” a spokesperson says.TfGM additionally states that concessionary fare reimbursement for May will be paid at pre-coronavirus COVID-19 levels if agreement is reached to formalise the collaborative working protocol.Cllr Mark Aldred, Chair of the Transport Committee, says: “We are making every effort to engage with and support the bus market. I am grateful to those operators that continue to work collaboratively with TfGM at this most challenging time.“With local authorities in Greater Manchester facing substantial financial challenges, it is more important than ever that public funds are spent prudently and in a way that ensures value for money, something I am certain our residents recognise and would expect.”Mr Aldred adds that the most recent letter to operators encouraged those with concerns to speak to TfGM.While D&G Bus is based in Stoke-on-Trent, it operates a small number of services into the TfGM area from an outstation near Northwich.
Plans to implement Low Emission Zones (LEZs) in four Scottish cities have been “paused” because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Scotland has announced.The decision was taken by the LEZ Leadership Group. It includes Transport Secretary Michael Matheson (pictured), Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and representatives from local authorities (LAs) in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.The LEZs were scheduled to be implemented later this year. Transport Scotland says the pause will “provide an opportunity to consider the kind of transport systems we want to see return to our cities after coronavirus COVID-19.”Mr Matheson says that the pandemic has led to changes in priorities across the Scottish Government and its LA partners. That has made the introduction of LEZs in Scotland by the end of 2020 “no longer practicable.”However, he adds that although the LEZs are now paused, the Scottish Government remains committed to introducing them eventually.“Given the recent uptake in active travel and air quality levels, we are going to take the opportunity to review how LEZs can be designed and how our cities might witness a green transformation in tandem with the coronavirus COVID-19 recovery plans.“We must be bold in our actions to reset the system to meet our climate change ambitions, reduce inequalities, improve our health and wellbeing and deliver sustainable economic growth.”At the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Scottish Conference on 4-5 November 2019, Mr Matheson had said that introduction of the four LEZs during 2020 was “critical”. Glasgow has already commenced a staged rollout of its LEZ.In April it was announced that LEZs in England outside London will now not be introduced until 2021. That was quickly followed by confirmation that the change to the London LEZ that would have required Euro VI compliance, originally scheduled to be introduced on 26 October, will now not be enforced until at least the end of February 2021.