THE month-long trial of bendy buses – which ended last week – has gone well, the minister in charge insists.
But Community, Culture and Leisure Minister Graham Cregeen said he is still keeping an open mind about the merits of operating the articulated vehicles here.
The exercise was aimed at testing the bendy buses’ suitability for use on island roads and not about checking their reliability.
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Mr Cregeen admitted Bus Vannin could have done without a series of breakdown problems – and he confirmed that the vehicles’ reliability would be taken into account in any decision on whether or not to purchase them.
The breakdowns have caused embarrassment for public transport bosses.
A replacement bus was shipped over after one bendy developed a fault on the first day of the trial. The same week a second one broke down north of Fairy Bridge, Santon.
Then in the last week of the trial, there were two breakdowns in two days.
Last Tuesday, one of the articulated vehicles broke down in Ballaugh and then the following day, a bendy conked out at Rhencullen, Kirk Michael. In both cases, the faults were minor and rectified at the roadside.
The trial came to an end on Thursday.
Mr Cregeen said: ‘I think it’s gone well. We’ve had positive feedback.
‘There were reliability issues with some of them. But when you leave vehicles in storage you do tend to get reliability issues once you put it back on the road. The reliability problems we could have done without. It will be taken into account if we went to purchase.’
He said some schools had raised issues about students having to stand on the bendy buses for a certain amount of time but other schools had not reported problems.
The minister said the buses had operated without any difficulties on those routes which had been identified as suitable for their use on services.
Results of the trial have now gone to an independent body which includes representatives from TravelWatch, the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Education.
They are expected to report back to the DCCL in the next three or four weeks.
Bus Vannin bosses say bendy buses, if introduced, will save £300,000 in staffing and fuel costs, plus £3m of capital costs saved in replacing older buses – and if they do not prove suitable, the savings will have to be found elsewhere.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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