New buses on the way

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A DOZEN more new buses will be delivered to the island in the next few weeks.

Questions about why new buses were being ordered when a number of older Isle of Man double deckers sold off to Blackpool were already refurbished and back in service in the Lancashire resort were raised in Tynwald by Kate Beecroft MHK (Lib Vannin, Onchan).

Twelve brand new silver Mercedes Citaro single deckers were officially handed over to Bus Vannin last summer.

In Tynwald, Community Culture and Leisure Minister Tim Crookall MHK said a further 12 vehicles of the same type were on order and delivery would take place this month and next.

Funding approval of £1.883 million for replacement buses was approved by Tynwald on Budget Day.

In the court this week, Mr Crookall insisted the new vehicles represented ‘excellent value for money’ and resulted in £100,000 of savings on the maintenance of older vehicles.

‘The fuel efficiencies we are expecting this year is £60,000 as these new buses are 50 per cent more efficient than the older double deckers. The reduction in staff maintenance on these buses is expected to be round about £100,000 this year and the reduction in parts, less need for costly repair for these buses, is about £40,000 a year.’

The Minister confirmed that in the last financial year, the 11 oldest double deckers in the Bus Vannin fleet had been sold to Blackpool Transport for £20,000 each along with four of the oldest single deckers, which were sold for £1,000 each [excluding VAT, tyres and shipping].

He said these 15 buses were shipped to the UK generating an income of £224,000.

Mrs Beecroft asked the Minister to confirm the average price per kilogram or per tonne actually received for the vehicles sent across and was it considered good value.

‘Could you also confirm whether any of these buses that were sent across have been refurbished in the UK and are now back in service? Did you actually consider taking this path in the first place yourself?’ she asked.

Mr Crookall explained that the double deckers were all over 12 years old and both the chassis and body manufacturers had gone out of business, making the sourcing of spare parts difficult.

‘On balance, I do not believe that repairing the older vehicles is a viable option,’ he said. He added that given the conditions of the vehicles, their sale to Blackpool Transport was believed to represent a good deal.

‘Each bus requires at least £20,000 to £25,000 to bring them up to an acceptable bodywork condition. We did not have the facilities on island to undertake this work or the spare cover for the length of time it takes to mend these vehicles.’

Graham Cregeen MHK (Malew and Santon) asked if the buses had been sold for re-use or scrap.

But the Minister replied that they had been sold to Blackpool Transport, which was refurbishing them at a cost of about £25,000 each to give them a further three or four years of service.

Mrs Beecroft asked what the cost was of shipping the new Mercedes Benz single deckers to the UK for repair.

Mr Crookall said that all of the new buses would be repaired in the island unless they were subject to serious accident damage that could not be repaired here.

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