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London Buses: Safety Enforcement

Volume 576: debated on Saturday 17 February 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Which organisations are responsible for the safe operation of buses in London and what are their particular terms of reference in respect of each element of safety.

The South East and Metropolitan Traffic Commissioner is appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport and his safety responsibilities include enforcing the conduct regulations which apply to bus drivers, including those which regulate drivers' hours. He is also responsible, through the operator licensing system, for ensuring that every bus operator is of good repute and has sufficient resources to maintain vehicles and operate services safely.The Vehicle Inspectorate Executive Agency works closely with the Traffic Commissioner. Their examiners conduct regular spot checks on vehicles and have the power to issue either a prohibition notice for significant safety related faults or a defect notice for minor defects. They also test all buses annually for roadworthiness. These checks are monitored by the agency and can trigger disciplinary action by the Traffic Commissioner if results are persistently unsatisfactory.The Driving Standards Agency is responsible for the testing of all drivers and driving instructors for the whole of the United Kingdom.In addition to their law enforcement role relating to traffic offences, uniformed police officers also have powers to conduct spot checks of buses and issue immediate prohibitions if serious faults are found.The Health and Safety Executive has the power to inspect any workplace, including bus garages. In extreme cases breaches of health and safety regulations can result in the prosecution of the company and also of named individuals.Bus operators are responsible for the safety of their services. London Transport Buses have a statutory responsibility to ensure the proper care of passengers and third parties. LT Buses regularly assess the safety performance of operators as part of their contract management responsibilities, with the aim of identifying poor performance at the earliest opportunity so that action can be taken to maintain a safe service. In extreme cases they can terminate an operator's contracts and remove the operator from the list of operators invited to tender for future contracts.