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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Cumbrian bus firm Reays told: No new routes until you prove you are reliable

Cumbrian bus company Reays has been prevented from launching more routes until it can show that its existing services run on time.

Chris Reay photo
Chris Reay

Beverley Bell, traffic commissioner for the north west, says she has “concerns” about Reays’ reliability.

She has told it not to register any more routes until she is satisfied that “current services are operating in accordance with traffic commissioner guidelines”.

These say that 95 per cent of buses should depart no more than one minute early or five minutes late.

A spokesman for the traffic commissioner said: “When an operator applies for a new registered service, it is for the traffic commissioners to ensure that those services are reliable.

“Where there are concerns, traffic commissioners can ensure that the operator does not apply to run any additional services until they are satisfied that the existing registered services are run compliantly.

“In this case, because of traffic commissioner concerns regarding the reliability of registered services, she decided to invite the operator to comply with such a condition. This condition was accepted by the operator.”

Wigton-based Reays Coaches Ltd launched its City Hopper network in Carlisle a year ago, taking on rival Stagecoach. The initiative led to a nomination for the UK Bus Awards.

Reays says City Hopper is carrying 17,500 passengers a week. The seventh route, to Dobbies Garden Centre, began last month.

The company also runs some loss-making rural routes under contract to Cumbria County Council. These include the 35 and 36 from Workington to Cockermouth via Great Broughton and Greysouthen respectively, the 60 from Maryport to Silloth and the 95 from Carlisle to Brampton via Heads Nook.

Chris Reay, managing director of Reays, says its services are meeting the traffic commissioner’s guidelines.

He said: “We were happy to accept the traffic commissioner’s invitation to confirm that 95 per cent of our buses operate within the target.

“After a lot of hard work to tackle a number of issues, including major roadworks in Carlisle, our punctuality rate is above the required level. This information has been forwarded to the traffic commissioner.”

He added: “We are proud of what City Hopper has achieved in its first year, having helped to improve the overall level of public-transport services in Carlisle while creating 35 jobs and investing £2 million in new vehicles.”

Reays has also started running team coaches for four Football League clubs – Blackpool, Burnley, Bradford City and Accrington Stanley – plus Conference team Fleetwood Town and Wigan Warriors RLFC.

The firm already provides Carlisle United’s team coach and runs supporters’ coaches to away games.

Mr Reay said: “This growth in VIP sports executive work, combined with all our other commitments, had led us to seek a further increase in the number of licences we hold to allow us to have more vehicles on the road, giving us greater flexibility without compromising our overall service levels.”

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