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Death trap buses driven off the road; City fleet rapped.

Horrified safety chiefs have ordered 30 death-trap buses off the road after check-ups.

And some of the vehicles were regularly used to ferry youngsters on school runs.

In one case the metal chassis of a bus was so rotted it could be broken BY HAND.

And in three others the brakes could have failed at any time. All the buses belong to GCT, who operate the green and yellow public service fleet in Glasgow.

And GCT were also ordered to carry out immediate repairs on 17 other buses.

Earlier this week bosses of the company were called before a Department of Transport disciplinary inquiry, accused of failing to maintain its buses in a roadworthy condition.

Faults included a tyre with no tread, spring to axle bolts not secure, loose propeller shaft bolts and oil and fuel leaks.

Of the crumbling chassis, DoT examiner Alan Campbell said: "A hammer easily passed through what should have been solid metal and finger pressure could then be used to expand the hole."

Traffic commissioners have now cut the number of buses the company is allowed to operate from 150 to 120 - and given them a year to improve.

GCT buses operate from depots at Knightswood, Possilpark, Parkhead and Larkfield.

The company is part of Strathclyde Bus Holdings which was taken over by First Bus plc in a pounds 110million deal last June.

Around 3500 Strathclyde staff got windfall payments of pounds 35,000 each and four directors shared pounds 17 million.

Other companies in the group are Strathclyde Buses and Kelvin Central Buses.

First Bus have also expressed an interest in getting their hands on London Underground when it comes up for privatisation.

Their last shown profits for six months to September last year showed an 81 per cent increase to pounds 25,700,000.

Boss John McCormick said First Bus was making a very large investment in engineering, with pounds 26,800,000 committed to its three subsidiaries.

He added he had made all employees aware of their concern, with the catchphrase: "If in any doubt, the bus does not go out."

But Scottish Traffic Commissioner Michael Betts said his concern was that he had heard these assurances before.

He said there had been a lot of concern about the condition of GCT buses at the end of 1994, and similar assurances were given then.

He appreciated it was now different management but his concern was the safety of buses and not who owned them.

However, for any bus firm to have 17 per cent of its buses with dangerous faults was appalling.

Mr Betts added: "I now want to see that management is effective.

"If in a year's time ministry inspectors are satisfied real improvements have been made I will be happy to increase the number of buses GCT are allowed to operate."

Dr Caroline Cahm, chairman of the National Federation of Bus Users, said: "We would share Mr Bett's issue that it is appalling.

"However, we would also agree that First Bus have had to take over and inherited a large number of problems.

"But nevertheless that has got to be matter of very real concern to all of us."
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Mackay, Tom
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 19, 1997
Words:529
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