Operators had to call taxis when buses broke down

TRANSPORT bosses have admitted that a failing bus fleet used to provide a lifeline to elderly and disabled people was so unreliable it had to use taxis.

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Keith Brown, right, Jonathan Findlay and passengers Hilda McCartney and Jacqueline Thomson launch online booking
Keith Brown, right, Jonathan Findlay and passengers Hilda McCartney and Jacqueline Thomson launch online booking

The Evening Times revealed on February 9 that Strathclyde Partnership for Transport agreed to pay £1.1million to replace the "extremely unreliable" bus fleet after just five years of service.

Now we can reveal bus firms that operated the MyBus scheme had to use taxis.

And although SPT said bus operators would have covered the cost of the taxis, Paisley MSP George Adam says he believes that, ultimately, the taxpayer will have footed the bill.

An SPT spokeswoman said: "Given that MyBus is a lifeline service for many vulnerable people, SPT's conditions of contract state that in the event of a breakdown, the bus operator contracted to supply the service must provide a replacement vehicle.

"Taxis are used only in an emergency and when a replacement bus is unavailable. The cost is met by the operator, not SPT.

"SPT's Partnership body recently approved the purchase of new replacement buses. These will only meet the growing demand for these services and will also help further reduce operating costs and provide more reliable vehicles."

Mr Adam, however, said the fact taxis had to be used is a "concerning revelation".

He said: "I pushed for better scrutiny of the Dial A Bus scheme, which became MyBus in a rebranding.

"I urged them to use taxis in the first instance, rather than the bus system because the taxis already have the infrastructure in place, call centres, management. But SPT set up its own system.

"MyBus seems to suffer from more of the same problems of Dial A Bus.

"I would be amazed if bus operators were handing cash over to taxi firms, their direct competition, without seeking to recover that from SPT and, ultimately, taxpayers.

"I would find that extremely strange. I think it would certainly come back to the taxpayer footing the bill. The bus companies would say to SPT ,'You provided the buses, they don't work, you pay for the taxis'.

"I will be writing to SPT to express my concerns."

SPT said it did not keep records of how many times bus operating companies had called taxis to replace broken down vehicles from the MyBus fleet.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

The MyBus and MyBus Rural are bookable bus services for anyone aged over 80, or who has mobility difficulties, or who lives in rural areas.

As well as Glasgow, services run in Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Ayrshire and Dunbartonshire.

Bookings to be picked up are preferred at least a day before, but can be made up to two hours before journeys.

In March 2012 an online booking service was launched by Scots Transport Minister Keith Brown and then SPT chairman Jonathan Findlay.

TRANSPORT bosses have admitted that a failing bus fleet used to provide a lifeline to elderly and disabled people was so unreliable it had to use taxis.

The Evening Times revealed on February 9 that Strathclyde Partnership for Transport agreed to pay £1.1million to replace the "extremely unreliable" bus fleet after just five years of service.

Now we can reveal bus firms that operated the MyBus scheme had to use taxis.

And although SPT said bus operators would have covered the cost of the taxis, Paisley MSP George Adam says he believes that, ultimately, the taxpayer will have footed the bill.

An SPT spokeswoman said: "Given that MyBus is a lifeline service for many vulnerable people, SPT's conditions of contract state that in the event of a breakdown, the bus operator contracted to supply the service must provide a replacement vehicle.

"Taxis are used only in an emergency and when a replacement bus is unavailable. The cost is met by the operator, not SPT.

"SPT's Partnership body recently approved the purchase of new replacement buses. These will only meet the growing demand for these services and will also help further reduce operating costs and provide more reliable vehicles."

Mr Adam, however, said the fact taxis had to be used is a "concerning revelation".

He said: "I pushed for better scrutiny of the Dial A Bus scheme, which became MyBus in a rebranding.

"I urged them to use taxis in the first instance, rather than the bus system because the taxis already have the infrastructure in place, call centres, management. But SPT set up its own system.

"MyBus seems to suffer from more of the same problems of Dial A Bus.

"I would be amazed if bus operators were handing cash over to taxi firms, their direct competition, without seeking to recover that from SPT and, ultimately, taxpayers.

"I would find that extremely strange. I think it would certainly come back to the taxpayer footing the bill. The bus companies would say to SPT ,'You provided the buses, they don't work, you pay for the taxis'.

"I will be writing to SPT to express my concerns."

SPT said it did not keep records of how many times bus operating companies had called taxis to replace broken down vehicles from the MyBus fleet.

ewan.fergus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

HOW MYBUS WORKS -

The MyBus and MyBus Rural are bookable bus services for anyone aged over 80, or who has mobility difficulties, or who lives in rural areas.

As well as Glasgow, services run in Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Ayrshire and Dunbartonshire.

Bookings to be picked up are preferred at least a day before, but can be made up to two hours before journeys.

In March 2012 an online booking service was launched by Scots Transport Minister Keith Brown and then SPT chairman Jonathan Findlay.

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