Bus company Arriva ordered to offer free journeys after 'no notice' route switch
PASSENGERS travelling into Derby after 7pm on routes 44 and 45 will get free travel for the next 12 months following a public inquiry into bus company Arriva.
North West Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell criticised the company after she heard that the firm did not give the correct legal notice for changes to routes between Alvaston and Derby.
Directors from the firm were called to a Traffic Commissioners' hearing in December and acknowledged the company had failed to tell Mrs Bell – and its passengers – that the stopping point of the services had changed.
The routes were registered and advertised as terminating at Derby bus station.
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But, in reality, the buses were stopping on Albert Street.
Arriva claimed that an administrative error had led to the company's failure to apply to change the registration with the Traffic Commissioner.
Under regulations governing local bus services, operators are required to give legal notice to the Traffic Commissioner of their intention to begin operating, change or cancel routes.
Mrs Bell also found that, by the time of the hearing, despite being notified of the Traffic Commissioner's concerns, the appropriate application to amend services had still not been made.
In her written decision, Mrs Bell said the errors made by Arriva had been "wholly unacceptable" and was also critical of the company's response when it first realised services were not running properly.
She said: "The company instructed all drivers to set down inside the bus station. Passengers were once again inconvenienced.
"Having become accustomed to being deposited at Albert Street, they were just then deposited at the bus station with no notice and no explanation.
"Passengers reliant on public transport have to fit their schedules into, and plan their diaries, around bus services.
"They must be given the proper notice to allow them to plan in the event of any alterations."
She concluded there was "no good reason" why Arriva dropped passengers 150 metres away from the advertised stopping point in Derby and highlighted that the company's decision to do so was based on financial considerations.
As a consequence, she said that it was "entirely appropriate" for passengers using the 44 and 45 services to receive free travel because of the inconvenience they had previously suffered.
Mrs Bell's order will take effect on March 1 and expire on February 28, 2014.
Keith Myatt, spokesman for Arriva Midlands, said: "We accept that errors were made over the registration of services.
"Following a full review, we have introduced measures to ensure this does not occur in the future."