19 Nov 2010

Troubled bus company sold

10:01 pm on 19 November 2010

The troubled Canterbury bus company that had substandard buses forced off the road this week by police has been sold.

A police sting operation in Christchurch over three days resulted in 62 buses being ordered off the road.

Canterbury Regional Council, which manages the city's bus system, says most were owned or operated by Christchurch Bus Services.

The council announced on Friday evening the company had been bought by North Island company Go Bus.

The council's chief executive, Brian Jenkins, says it is confident the new owner will restore public confidence in bus services.

Mr Jenkins says the council had given Canterbury Bus Services until 5pm on Friday to complete the sale, or lose its contracts.

The takeover is set for 1 December.

Listen to Brian Jenkins on Checkpoint

Services under strain

Services have been stretched in Christchurch this week, with 28 buses ordered off the road immediately and 34 once they had completed their run.

Police say the action followed complaints in letters to the editors of local newspapers and they were appalled at what they found. They say prosecutions will follow.

Officers stopped and inspected 114 buses from three companies' operating Christchurch urban routes, with 60% needing repairs.

Sergeant Michael Moloney says some of the buses had minor faults, but others had serious braking issues and were unsafe.

The council says it was aware of safety problems with some buses because of a number of missed trips by several contractors.

The Bus and Coach Association says there is no excuse for any bus anywhere to be on the roads when it is not safe and the police operation is welcome.

Union wants company closed down

The union representing bus drivers says Christchurch Bus Service should be shut down because of the safety issues.

About 450 bus drivers in the region belong to the Amalgamated Workers Union.

A union official, Lindsay Chappell, says he cannot believe the Transport Agency is allowing Christchurch Bus Services to keep running.

Mr Chappell says drivers working for Christchurch Bus Services had reported problems with the buses to the union but were too scared to raise them with the company.

Listen to Lindsay Chappell on Checkpoint