Norfolk school bus operator banned

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £2.99.

A Norfolk-based company which operated school services has had its O-licence revoked at a Public Inquiry held in Cambridge on 6 September by Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the East of England Miles Dorrington, following a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) investigation. Company Director Matthew Wright was reported to have been on duty for 24 hours straight, including a school run and rail replacement bus service, without having taken a legally-required break.

PTS Group (Norfolk) Limited, trading as Wrights Coaches and based at Hoveton, Norwich had its Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence revoked from 6 October 2021 for multiple offences including knowingly falsifying tachograph records.

A DVSA Traffic Examiner detected 63 drivers’ hours offences over a three-month period, 41 of which were committed by Director Matthew Wright, 31. The offences were discovered after an unannounced visit was made by DVSA officers in September 2019, leading to a detailed examination of drivers’ hours and maintenance records.

A DVSA Vehicle Examiner discovered that there was no forward planning system in place for coach maintenance. Coach safety checks were not being undertaken within the required time interval and there was an ineffective system in place for reporting and rectifying roadworthiness defects.

Fifteen tachograph records were falsified and drivers had used other drivers’ names on records to conceal illegal and dangerous practices of taking insufficient rest. Records for journeys accounting for 7,381km were also missing.

Matthew Wright lost his repute as a transport manager and was disqualified from being a director of any company for one year, and disqualified as a transport manager for 2 years, in addition to receiving a suspension of his PSV licence for 6 months.

Five other drivers’ entitlement to drive coaches were also suspended by the Deputy Traffic Commissioner at driver conduct hearings and an additional three drivers were given formal warnings for their actions.

Marian Kitson, Director of Enforcement for DVSA said: “Laws are in place to keep our roads safe and DVSA will not tolerate such blatant and intentional disregard for the safety of passengers and road users. In this case, customers had placed their trust in this operator to deliver passengers, some of whom were children, safely to their destinations. Instead, they deliberately broke the rules, risking their lives and the lives of others. DVSA will continue to target and take action against serially non-compliant operators to protect the public from unsafe vehicles, operators and drivers.”

The firm racked up 63 drivers’ hours infringements over a three-month period, including 41 by owner Matthew Wright. ANDY IZATT