Saturday, 28 November 2015

Subscriptions  |  evouchers  |  Jobs  |  Property  |  Motors  |  Travel  |  Dating  |  Family Notices

Battle of the buses in Carlisle

Transport regulators are investigating an apparent war between rival bus companies.

The Office of Traffic Commissioners has confirmed it has received “a number” of complaints about the way two firms have battled for business in Carlisle.

Competition for customers in the city has intensified since family-run Wigton coach company Reays started challenging national transport giant Stagecoach’s monopoly in the area two years ago.

Its City Hopper service is running some services in direct competition to Stagecoach’s long-established operations.

That has brought with it intense rivalry to secure custom in areas where both firms run routes.

Now the Office of Traffic Commissioners (OTC) has confirmed to the News & Star that issues about both operators and allegations about their practices have been formally raised with it.

A spokeswoman said the situation between the two companies was known to them and “ongoing”, with various complaints registered.

“We have had a number of complaints over time,” she continued.

“The issues have been ongoing with Reays and Stagecoach.”

She added that similar situations had occurred in other towns and were known as “bus wars”.

The exact nature of the complaints made have not been disclosed.

Traffic commissioners will then refer the complaints to the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA) who will decide whether to investigate. The VOSA report makes a decision to ignore, prosecute criminally if they find an offence or refer it to the OTC.

Both firms have stated they believe their operations are completely above board. Managing director Chris Reay said he believes the competition is healthy, with passengers being the winners in terms of price and service standards.

Confirmation of the formal complaints being looked into comes after a woman contacted the News & Star with allegations about the tactics being used to land customers.

She claimed to have seen inspectors from Stagecoach encourage passengers not to board Reays buses at the busy West Tower Street site just over a week ago, claiming to them they would be better off on one of their coaches.

The woman said she has formally raised a complaint with VOSA.

VOSA says the issue is being dealt with by the commissioners’ office, although it appeared her complaint was still working its way through the departments.

Stagecoach said it takes any such allegation "extremely seriously" but had not received any complaint direct to Stagecoach from the complainant or anyone else concerned.

A spokesman continued: "Stagecoach do not employ five inspectors at any time at any location within Cumbria, and the behaviour described is not how Stagecoach operate.

"As a result until we receive details that are more than unsubstantiated hearsay we cannot make any further comment on this matter. On receipt of such details we will investigate fully in accordance with our internal and industry standard procedures."

Mr Reay declined to comment on the alleged actions of Stagecoach staff. But he did thank his passengers for their “tremendous support and loyalty”.

The businessman said: “We are a family-run Cumbrian company and we are proud to serve our community.

“Without City Hopper there would not be any competition for public bus services in Carlisle, and fares would be a lot more expensive because Stagecoach would still enjoy a monopoly in the city, which they had held for many years.”


News & Star What's On search


Has the bubble burst on Black Friday?

Yes. You can get bargains every day for weeks now

No way! I bagged a load of bargains

After the manic scenes of last year it was always going to settle down

Show Result

Hot jobs
Scan for our iPhone and Android apps
Search for: