TfGM cracks down on crime in Manchester

first_imgA new police unit, set up to make Greater Manchester’s buses and trams even safer by tackling crime and antisocial behaviour on the networks, has already had a significant impact.Under the three-year pilot scheme, a 16-strong team comprising police constables, police community support officers, special constables and security personnel provide regular patrols on the region’s travel networks to tackle and prevent crime and antisocial behaviour.Between its launch on 1 April and 28 May, the TravelSafe Unit provided a presence on 1,652 vehicles, making 23 arrests for a variety of offences and issuing 1,074 penalty notices.last_img read more

Eleven hurt in double-decker bus crash

first_imgTwo people suffered life-threatening injuries and nine others were hurt when a double-decker bus crashed into a hedge.The driver and 18 passengers were on the Stagecoach bus when it crashed at Oakley, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, at about 1200hrs.Three people have been seriously hurt and the others suffered minor injuries.No other vehicles were involved in the crash. The two most seriously injured people have been taken to the major trauma centre at University Hospital Southampton, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) said.Three unaccompanied children were not hurt.Bus operator Stagecoach said it believed the bus “remained upright at all times but that a number of people have been injured, including our driver”.”Safety is our absolute priority and we will assist the police fully in their investigation into the circumstances around this incident.”last_img read more

CPT’s a lot fresher after ‘big bang’

first_imgSo now we know who the next CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) will be. One Graham Vidler, until April last year the External Affairs Director of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.A fresh mindHe’s worked in the pensions industry for some 20 years, and from what I can see has never set foot anywhere near the transport industry, let alone the bus industry. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing. It means he comes in with no preconceptions, no baggage, a fresh mind uncluttered with the history of the industry.Google tells us that Graham has skills in stakeholder management, strategy and strategic communications, policy development and advocacy. That seems to fit the bill nicely, especially given that the whole point of the CPT’s reorganisation is to develop a stronger voice at Westminster and Whitehall.The big bangThe operators have also appointed a new External Relations Manager (Tom Brackenbury) and a Policy and Public Affairs Manager (Alison Edwards). I’m slightly surprised these two appointments were made before Graham Vidler was in post and able to be part of the selection process but, be that as it may, neither Tom nor Alison appear to have any experience of the bus industry either. I’m not questioning their abilities at all. Far from it. All I am saying is that the CPT will now have three of its most senior people having no bus industry experience, no knowledge of the detailed and, in some cases, complex issues that need to be addressed.This loss of industry expertise, the loss of the ‘institutional memory’, worries me. The knowledge and memory banks exist within the operators, of course. But if it had been my call I would have managed the transformation of the CPT in a more gradualist way.This ‘big bang’ reorganisation makes me twitch given the three new appointees’ lack of experience in the industry. I hope my anxieties are groundless.   Fidler: Institutional knowledge retained at the DfTInstitutional knowledgeAnd there’s change within the Department for Transport (DfT) too. I hear that, with Graham Pendlebury retiring in May, his successor as Director for Local Transport is to be Stephen Fidler who is promoted into the post. Congratulations to him.This is something of a reassurance. I had worried that Graham Pendlebury, one of the most experienced and seasoned officials in the DfT, would be replaced with somebody from outside with little or no experience of the department, let alone local transport, thus diluting the ‘institutional knowledge’ still further.Stephen Fidler, however, has considerable experience of the DfT and Whitehall more generally, and was responsible for piloting the Bus Services Act through parliament.So Stephen is very well known to the industry, understands the issues and is an extremely capable individual. At a time when it’s ‘all change’ at the CPT, I’m relieved and pleased to see that Stephen takes over the reins from Graham. Welcome back Stephen!last_img read more

Community transport is in ‘turmoil’

first_imgCT sector plays a huge part in society. Changing any rules due to Brexit would be ‘unfair’ and will come at a costThe uncertainty over Brexit reminds us that recent action by the EU has put Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985 and community transport (CT) into turmoil.The permit system was designed to allow voluntary organisations using small buses to operate with certain exemptions, including for drivers not to require a full D1 licence. The DfT’s predecessors and the EU were in agreement that ‘non-commercial’ and ‘not for profit’ were synonymous.Filling a gapOver the decades, as local authority budgets and commercial service provision – especially in rural areas – declined, the CT sector increasingly filled the gap preventing loneliness and isolation for those most in need.For some, being able to take a bus to the supermarket, shops or doctor is their only opportunity for social interaction.When people can travel, rather than be cared for at home, there are public savings in health and social care. However, there is a transport cost and that is why the contribution of the CT sector is so valuable.Regardless of size of the CT, their charitable status ensures all surpluses are reinvested in the communities, further reducing the burden on the taxpayer.Some commercial operators have claimed that they have been unfairly undercut when bidding for contracts. But in any world of competitive tendering the pot is fixed. Higher contract costs would mean less transport overall and society’s most vulnerable affected.‘Huge backlash’Over the years, the CT sector has been increasingly propping up services in place of a mostly absent private sector.Thus, when in July 2017, the DfT attempted to redefine the 1986 arrangements and in particular the definition of ‘non-commercial’, it is not surprising that there was a huge backlash from those most affected.The government has encouraged a cottage industry to grow and fill the gaps caused by the withdrawal of commercial services and cuts in local authority spending. Changing the rules now unilaterally is unfair and crucially will cost the wider public purse more.If the CT sector is annihilated it is likely to lead to fewer transport opportunities for housebound and isolated people. The change commercial sector’s gross margin will barely be noticed.Onerous standardsThe case for increased regulation can be justified in dealing with performance failings – however the CT sector barely registers on any measure of vehicle prohibitions, poor driving standards or killed and seriously injured.In fact, the requirements for MiDAS are much more onerous than for Driver CPC and I recall – and as I told the Transport Select Committee – that when we ran an open competition for London’s Dial-a-Ride, none of the commercial operators met the pre-qualification standards whereas the CT operators did.For these reasons, there are no grounds to make any changes. And this applies no matter which EU we are in.last_img read more

Coach industry survey looks at opinions in early 2021

first_imgFurther restrictions have dented coach operators’ confidence in the pace of industry recovery in 2021 but there is still some slender optimism within the sector, a survey carried out by routeone that closed in early February has shown.As with previous examinations of the state of the industry, responses were dominated by small operators. The average number of full-time staff that they employ is 13 and the average number of part-timers is six. February’s survey follows one conducted in December 2020. Some questions were common across both, but others were not.Restrictions’ impact on coach industry shown by surveyIn a headline figure, a smaller proportion of operators that responded in February were actively trading than was the case in December 2020, at 53% against 73%, respectively.On a more positive note, 39% of respondents believe that their rates will increase this year, against just 4% that think they will drop. 27% believe that rates will stay static. 30% are undecided.News about the speed of vaccination rollout continues to influence some customers’ appetite to travel. February’s survey shows that 25% of respondents have received more tourism or private hire enquiries since news of the vaccine broke. In December 2020 the figure covering only tourism-related enquiries was a mere 8%.Predictably, the ongoing virtual closedown of the industry means that insolvency worries remain significant.  51% of respondents in February believe that their business is at severe or moderate risk of insolvency, compared to 47% in December 2020.25% now believe that their business is at low risk of insolvency, down from 32%. The percentage of respondents who see no risk of insolvency stays at 16%, while more – 8% in February compared to 4% in December 2020 – are unsure of their level of risk.Safety taken seriously by the coach industry, survey showsThe survey also underlines how seriously coach operators are taking cleanliness and virus mitigation measures. Of all respondents:83% have provided PPE to staff73% have provided signage or instructions for passengers55% have changed boarding procedures43% allocate specific seats40% have provided PPE to passengers24% have installed screens22% have installed air filtration systems6% have carried out none of the above.Concern about possible redundancies increasesRedundancies are now more likely when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends, respondents believe. 36% think that shedding staff is extremely or very likely, compared to 19% in December 2020.A further 23% believe it is somewhat likely; in December 2020 that figure was 22%. Not very likely accounted for 28% of responses in February against 34% a month earlier. Highly unlikely was chosen by 13% of February’s respondents against 25% in December 2020.The number of coaches that are off the road is substantial, the February survey shows. No less than 76% of respondents have over half of their vehicles laid up. Over 50% have four-fifths or more of their coaches out of use. Just 7% of respondents report that their full fleet is on the road:91-100% of their vehicles off the road: 42% of responses81-90% of their vehicles off the road: 9% of responses71-80% of their vehicles off the road: 10% of responses61-70% of their vehicles off the road: 9% of responses51-60% of their vehicles off the road: 6% of responses41-50% of their vehicles off the road: 7% of responses21-30% of their vehicles off the road: 3% of responses11-20% of their vehicles off the road: 2% of responses1-10% of their vehicles off the road: 5% of responsesNo vehicles off the road: 7% of responses.last_img read more

Charges brought after South Bend man’s death at Indiana prison

first_img By Associated Press – August 31, 2019 0 340 IndianaLocalNews Charges brought after South Bend man’s death at Indiana prison Facebook WhatsApp Twitter Google+ WhatsApp Pinterest (Photo supplied) BUNKER HILL, Ind. (AP) — Authorities in Indiana say charges have been brought in the separate slayings of two inmates at the Miami Correctional Facility.Indiana State Police announced Thursday that 53-year-old inmate Phillip Sadler has been charged with murder in the June 10 smothering death of 70-year-old Lannie Morgan of South Bend. A not guilty plea has been entered for Sadler and he requested a lawyer.Also Thursday, police announced 42-year-old Michael Parrish is charged with murder in the May 19 strangulation death of his cellmate, 56-year-old Richard Carrell. A not guilty plea has been entered for Parrish and he requested a lawyer.Court records Friday didn’t list the name of a public defender in either case.The Miami Correctional Facility is located near Bunker Hill, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Indianapolis. Google+ Twitter Pinterest Facebook Previous articleGovernor Holcomb ‘disgusted’ by texts official sent internNext articleFlight attendant agrees to undergo alcohol abuse counseling Associated PressNews from the Associated Press and its network of reporters and publications.last_img read more

González leads the field as contenders jostle for position

first_imgAs the Union increases its authority and becomes a complex mix of intergovernmental and communautaire policies, there is a natural tendency for prime ministers, chancellors and presidents to want to ensure that the person at the centre of that web understands their domestic pressures.Even so, the requirement seriously limits the field as the search begins for the person to lead the Commission through the early years of the new millennium.That is one reason why former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González is emerging as a potentially strong challenger. Another is that his domestic political career appears to be over and, given his understanding with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on European issues, he could win the support of both Socialist and Christian Democrat leaders. After running the Union’s most powerful country for close on two decades, why should he move to Brussels and play second fiddle to younger prime ministers?Two Italian names are increasingly in the frame: former Prime Minister Giuliano Amato and current Premier Romano Prodi. Either would fit the bill if it was decided that someone from a southern member state should head the Commission.Another contender is the former Irish Commissioner Peter Sutherland.A member of the Christian Democrat family, he has an impressive range of credentials: Ireland’s youngest-ever attorney general, a highly successful Competition Commissioner; the man who assisted in the birth and early life of the World Trade Organisation; and now a prominent international businessman as chairman of Goldman Sachs.That record should more than compensate for the one obvious gap in his CV – he has never held the post of prime minister.Would he go for it? Almost certainly yes. But it would also require his Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrat political opponents in Ireland to champion a Fine Gael politician for one of Europe’s top posts. González has consistently denied any knowledge of the death squads which are alleged to have killed 28 people.However, the trial this month of his former Interior Minister Jose Barrionuevo and other ex-Socialists ensures that questions will continue to be asked about González’ possible involvement.Spanish Christian Democrats privately predict that this cloud will eventually turn into a storm which will destroy any presidency hopes González might harbour.Interestingly, they also suggest that his weak knowledge of English might be a handicap in a Union, and a world, where it is fast becoming the dominant language.But these criticisms may only be designed to hide the fact that qualified Christian Democrat candidates are noticeably thin on the ground.Kohl’s name occasionally comes up during speculation sessions, but few treat the suggestion seriously. In the past month, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres has publicly said that González “has the right profile for the job”. Even Spain’s Conservative Premier José María Aznar has indicated that his government always supports Spaniards running for top international posts.Jacques Delors’ suggestion that political parties should campaign in next June’s European parliamentary elections alongside their chosen candidate for Commission president has only encouraged speculation about González’ plans. He would be an obvious champion for European Socialists.At the end of the day, González’ chances will depend on a small number of factors with little or nothing to do with Delors’ innovative scheme.Does he want the job? The answer is probably yes, although he is reputed to have said that after enduring Belgium’s grey skies as a student, he would not want to subject himself to its temperamental climate again. Perhaps different circumstances would change his mind.Would a Conservative Spanish government support a former Socialist prime minister? The answer is undoubtedly yes, if he had a realistic chance of landing the top post.But the final question exposes González’ potential Achilles’ heel. To what extent will his political credibility be tainted or even ruined by the allegations of the ‘dirty war’ his government is accused of waging against Basque separatists in the Eighties. As a result, the future offers the intriguing scenario of the staunchest supporters of two of the potential front runners being their long-standing domestic opponents.It is a clear sign of how the Union is changing.last_img read more

Applicants welcome call for entry date

first_imgMost applicant countries have set internal target dates for completing their preparations for EU membership, with the majority aiming for 2003.Germany’s Joschka Fischer has emerged as the strongest advocate of setting a timetable in Helsinki. But he faced opposition from fellow foreign ministers at a meeting in Finland last week.Most insisted it would be too early to fix dates in December even though the Commission’s latest reports on the applicants’ progress, due out next month, will provide a clearer picture of the state of play in each candidate country. France’s Hubert Védrine said deadlines could be counter-productive if applicants could not meet their commitments.But Polish officials point out incoming Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen said in July that Warsaw’s target entry date of 1 January 2003 was “not unrealistic”. However, he also told MEPs the Union could not agree a timetable until it had a clear view of applicants’ position in all areas of EU legislation. Talks on many difficult dossiers have yet to begin. But they have voiced doubts that Union leaders will be able to agree on a fixed timetable for admitting new members at their December summit in Helsinki.Prodi ignited the debate over the wisdom of laying down a timetable in a speech to MEPs this week. He said the EU should “give serious consideration in Helsinki to setting a firm date for the accession of those countries which are best prepared, even if this means granting lengthy transition periods”.Senior Polish officials resp-onded enthusiastically. “The Union setting a date would facilitate Poland’s reforms,” said one, adding that it would help convince the public of the need for painful changes.last_img read more

MEP named EU woman of year

first_imgThe 38-year-old Socialist member for Yorkshire and Humberside received her award from the UK’s former Northern Ireland minister Mo Mowlam, who praised McAvan’s efforts to engage women in the future of Europe.last_img

Training expert: old EU states should learn from new members

first_imgDutchman Peter de Rooij says current member states would do well to follow the example of accession states, which he says have made impressive efforts to prepare young people to join the workforce.De Rooij, director of the Turin-based EU agency since its launch in 1995, called on the EU to invest more in lifelong learning and training.“There should be a collective awareness of the need to invest in that most precious commodity – human beings,” he said. “Governments and individual companies simply have to provide more facilities for people who lack the right education and skills to continue to be active in the labour market.” De Rooij also says any future increase in EU employment opportunities is likely to be centred on new member states rather than current ones.“Although unemployment is still high in many of the new member states, economic growth and public investment in education have been considerably higher than in the countries of the current EU.“With the last trade barriers coming down from 1 May, foreign direct investment in the region will go up further,” he says.ETF figures show a high level of preparation of the future workforce in the field of education in central and eastern European countries. In 2002, the percentage of people aged 22 who had successfully completed at least upper secondary education was higher in the acceding countries – 90.1% – than in the EU-15 (75.4%).In the same year, the share of the population aged 18-24 that had left EU education systems with only lower secondary education was 18.5% compared with 8.4% in the acceding countries. “The perception that the current working population of new member states is static, with little effort put into re-training people with redundant skills, is wrong,” says de Rooij. “All these countries have made impressive efforts to prepare education and training systems and their labour markets for EU membership.”Public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product in 2000 was 4.94% in the EU and 4.86% in the 12 acceding countries. But when Bulgaria and Romania, who are not joining until 2007, are excluded, the figure is higher in accession states.However, he says new states may soon experience a brain-drain with the migration of single, well-educated young people to current, richer member states.“This would put extra pressure on the acceding countries to increase further investment in human resources development,” he says.De Rooij will step down as director of the ETF at the end of June and will be replaced by Scot Muriel Dunbar. The agency has a 120-strong workforce and an annual budget of some €18 [email protected]last_img read more