True cost revealed of school bus changes

Transport boss says plans will have '˜deep consequences'

Andy McDade is concerned about the future of his business. Pic: Craig Halkett

North Lanarkshire Council is currently consulting on increasing the eligibility distance for primary and secondary pupils.

In addition, the council’s Infrastructure Committee voted to move forward with proposals to ban buses over the age of 20 being used for its contracts as well as introducing twice-yearly MOTs.

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Andy McDade, of McDade’s Coaches, is concerned about what this will mean in the future.

He said: “If the council cuts eligibility for school pupils then I will lose the contracts for nine vehicles, which is a major issue.

“Normally when you lose a contract you pick another up, but if everyone is losing out there’s not the contracts out there to compensate.

“That is going to make life very difficult and could lead to a situation of looking at how we cut costs.

“To make life even worse the council is also considering that all buses it contracts are less than 20 years old. I have enough vehicles to cope, but I know there will be others who do not.

“To put it into context my contract for Cardinal Newman High is £24,000 a year, but I recently bought a 2000 53-seater for £26,000. Who’ll be able to spend that every few years to keep up with the council’s demands?

“The age of a bus doesn’t really matter, it’s the miles on the clock you need to look at – one travelling a few miles around Lanarkshire each day will be in better shape than one going between Glasgow and London every day.

“I seriously hope the council think again as all this will have far deeper consequences than I believe they have considered.”

The Infrastructure Committee report admits using younger buses is unlikely to improve safety.

Head of Regulatory Services and Waste Solutions Graham Johnstone wrote: “Although the age of a vehicle will not necessarily have a bearing on its safety, a 30-year-old vehicle is more likely to develop mechanical problems than a younger vehicle.

“In addition, older vehicles have increased levels of emissions which impact on the standard of air quality within North Lanarkshire.”

Meanwhile, the council’s SNP Group has accused Provost Jean Jones of being more interested in Christmas jumpers than school transport.