A Fife bus company has been given a rap over the knuckles following an accident involving two schoolchildren.
The youngsters were being driven home from Madras College, St Andrews, in September 2012 when the people carrier they were travelling in collided with a car on a single-track road.
Neither child sustained serious injury, but it transpired that the vehicle’s MoT had expired three days before the crash.
An investigation was launched by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), and Methil-based A1 Minibus and Coach Service, which is licensed to operate nine public service vehicles, was issued with a formal warning by Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken.
A public inquiry in Edinburgh heard that the nine-seater vehicle, contracted by Fife Council, had swerved to avoid a car at a blind bend, but hit a high embankment and collided with the car.
A report issued by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner following the inquiry said: “Whilst no evidence of blameworthiness on part of the vehicle driver could be found, the vehicle was out of test.
“A further concern for VOSA and the Traffic Commissioner was that not all of the company’s vehicles were passing first time at annual test. The Traffic Commissioner takes first-time passes at annual test as a good indicator of the standard of roadworthiness in the company.”
Following a previous public inquiry in January 2009, A1 Minibus and Coach Service was restricted from expanding or operating new bus routes for a year.
It was also revealed that 10 roadworthiness prohibitions for mechanical defects had been issued to the company since then, although the VOSA examiner said that the defects could have arisen between safety inspections.
After hearing evidence from company director Colleen Goodsir and transport manager David Goodsir, Miss Aitken allowed A1’s public service vehicle operator’s licence to continue. She also praised the firm’s investment in computerised vehicle maintenance and coach management systems to help achieve the required standards.
Fife Council confirmed it was continuing to use the company for school runs.
School transport lead professional Linda Watters said: “The company accepted responsibility for operating the vehicle without the required test certificate, apologised and agreed to put measures in place so that it couldn’t happen again.
“We referred the incident to VOSA who carried out an investigation and reported that no formal action would be taken as a consequence of this particular failure.
“We are still using A1 to operate school contracts but VOSA would inform us if their vehicle inspections revealed any issues with the company’s vehicles.”
There was no response from A1 Minibus and Coach Service to attempts by The Courier to contact it.
Also under scrutiny was Cowdenbeath Taxi Services’ application for a restricted goods vehicle operator’s licence for two vehicles amid concerns that the firm, based at Woodend Industrial Estate, intended to use the vehicles for wider purposes than permitted by the licences.
At the public inquiry, company director William MacDonald agreed that he had applied for the wrong type of licence.
As a result, the application was refused solely on that ground.