Stagecoach awaits Coventry decision

West Midlands traffic commissioner Nicholas Denton will issue a written decision on the repute of Stagecoach Midlands and three of its managers over the 2015 fatal accident in Coventry in which a passenger and a pedestrian were killed (January Buses).

Denton called a public inquiry on 30 January to investigate the repute of Midland Red (South) Ltd and its nominated transport managers James Steven Mortimore (operations director), David Morgan (engineering director) and Philip Medlicott (managing director) following the fine of £2,335,000 and £7,214 costs imposed under Health & Safety law after the fatal crash in Coventry on 3 October 2015 when a then 77-year-old driver lost control of a Trident double-decker in the city centre.

Former Stagecoach Midlands managing director Stephen John Burd did not attend the inquiry. He is now working in Saudi Arabia. Medlicott and Morgan joined the company after the accident.

Denton heard evidence from Mortimore on the processes in place for accident management and review, GreenRoad driving alerts and also management of drivers’ working time. The evidence given confirmed that at the time of the fatal accident the management of drivers at Leamington depot, following accidents, was not being managed in accordance with Stagecoach policy.

Analysis of the GreenRoad data and follow up with drivers was also lacking.

Stagecoach outlined lessons learned and how it has improved and tightened up its processes around age-related medicals, analysis of GreenRoad data, driver accident records and driving hours.

An audit of depot activities, including accidents and complaints, now takes place with the senior team at all depots every four weeks. It was previously done four times a year.

Since 5 January, Stagecoach has also stopped using casual drivers across all UK Bus companies.

Summing up for Stagecoach, counsel Jonathan Backhouse said that the failings were because of local management issues and not those of the nominated transport managers. He said that the company accepts full responsibility for the incident and pleaded guilty at the court hearing. The directors have also taken full ownership and responsibility for the issues raised. Backhouse said the company has a good repute and has not given the traffic commissioner any compliance concerns over the past 10 years. ‘This is a company with a very good record and is a very responsible organisation,’ he added. Denton also sought clarification on where the nominated transport managers were based (at the Northampton head office) and repeated comments made in the past that he favours local transport managers.

He was satisfied with the response that local managers have Certificate of Professional Competence transport manager qualifications but are not nominated transport managers on the operator licence.

Midland Red (South) Ltd has three operator licences. The hearing only concerned the standard international licence held in the West Midlands Traffic Area, which covers the Warwickshire operations of Stagecoach Midlands.

Stagecoach Midlands also holds a standard national licence in the Eastern Traffic Area, covering its Northamptonshire operations. A further standard international licence in the Western Traffic Area covers the Banbury operations of Stagecoach Oxfordshire.