Bus firm banned and fined

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By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

A SCOTS bus company who tried to woo Stagecoach customers with mulled wine, free journeys and dodgy licence discs is vowing to defy a ban imposed by Traffic Commissioners.

Bankfoot Buses Ltd have been banned from the road for almost four years after using the same livery and uniforms as their more illustrious rivals in a stunt that Joan Aitken, the traffic commissioner for Scotland, said was “as bad as it can get”.

She said the bus operator must be banned from running their service between Dunkeld and Perth “for a good period of time” and also imposed a fine of £1,650.

Ms Aitken said Perth-based Bankfoot Buses had sought to interfere with Stagecoach’s services – including blocking bus Mulled Wine, Free Buses, stops used by their famous competitors.

She also said Bankfoot had tried to create goodwill towards its own buses, and ill will towards Stagecoach, by offering free bus rides, mulled wine for its customers and making charitable donations.

But Bankfoot have hit back at the “outrageous decision” to ban them and have promised to carry on providing the service between Perth and Dunkeld free of charge.

Forged licence disc

Ms Aitken said: “This is a serious case of wilful disregard of the regulatory regime and of very unusual and unprofessional behaviour.

“The operator’s on/off approach to when he would run his registered services is as bad as it can get.”

The traffic commissioner also said the company had also used a forged licence disc and had failed to operate registered services without reasonable excuse.

But Bankfoot Buses have hit back at the commission’s official decision to ban them by claiming they will continue to operate the controversial bus route because the judgement is a “laughable decision”.

Bankfoot’s website states: “We especially had a good chuckle at the bit of the report that said Bankfoot Buses had tried to manipulate public opinion by offering free services, charity donations and mulled wine on board – as if it were wrong to maintain good public relations and thank our customers…you…the very people who have supported us.

“Rest assured, Bankfoot Buses will continue to provide the same, reliable bus service that it has always done – and it will take more than excessive officialdom and bullying from others to stop us.

“Please support us in any way you can.”

Unprofessional behaviour

Stagecoach, which is based in Perth, said it welcomed the “firm action” against Bankfoot Buses’ “shameful catalogue of serious offences”.

A spokesman said: “We hope the decision will send a strong message that unprofessional behaviour and a wilful disregard of regulations will not be tolerated.”

Stuart Newing-Davis, Bankfoot Buses’ MD, said: “We’re a small bus operator who has made friendly customer service and low fares our watchword in the rural communities.

“Far from interfering with services of ‘big brother’ competitors, we’ve offered a real choice for passengers.

“Other operators seem to want to snuff us out, with the support of the Traffic Commission, but we’re not going to oblige and will continue to offer a free service between Dunkeld and Perth, with customers able to donate what they wish to a local church restoration fund.

“We’re launching an appeal against the Traffic Commission’s outrageous decision, and have already received numerous offers of support from the local communities that we serve.”

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