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Traffic commissioner threatens to strip First of Manchester services

08 February 2012

North Western traffic commissioner Beverley Bell has threatened to strip FirstGroup of routes in Manchester due to poor timekeeping.

The extent of First’s failings in the city was set out at a public inquiry which heard that more than 20% of services ran more than five minutes late or one minute early  during a VOSA monitoring exercise last year in Eccles, Swinton, Worsley, Royton, Trafford and Stalybridge. At the inquiry, First’s strategic development director north Richard Soper acknowledged that services which performed consistently poorly would find it difficult to survive, to which Bell responded: “They damn well won’t survive because I will take them off you.”

The traffic commissioner slammed the company’s apparent failure to deal with punctuality problems over the past year despite making £14m in profits and warned the company that it needed to show a rapid improvement. The hearing will reconvene in March when First will present an action plan to turn performance around along with latest punctuality data. Bell said that she would expect clear evidence that the company’s management is capable of addressing its problems.

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