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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Police – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Bus company sentenced for safety failings

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 – 3:56pm

Police say the successful prosecution of a Wellington bus company highlights the duty of care that all public transport providers have to ensure passenger safety and carry out timely and effective maintenance.

Wellington City Transport Ltd, which is owned by New Zealand Bus Ltd and trades as Go Wellington, was today sentenced in the Wellington District Court on a charge of failing to take all practical steps to prevent harm in a place of work, following a string of serious incidents between May and August 2013. It was ordered to pay a fine of $22,000 and reparation totalling $3,500, to be split evenly among the seven identifiable victims for the emotional harm caused.

The charge relates to eight incidents, where passengers, including young children and pregnant women, became trapped in bus doors when entering or exiting buses, with the potential to cause serious injury or death, said National Manager Road Policing, Superintendent Carey Griffiths.

“Today’s sentence is a reminder to all public transport providers that passenger safety has to remain paramount at all times. Of particular concern is that in this case, a number of the victims were young and vulnerable, and who, if not for good luck, could have been very seriously injured or worse.”

Mr Griffiths said despite Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency working with the company over a number of years to improve safety, it had failed to act quickly or decisively enough.

“Since 2010, the agencies have worked with New Zealand Bus Ltd to gain improvement in their Wellington fleet, after ongoing checks revealed failures in practices around maintenance, reporting, training and systems to measure compliance.

“It is clear that NZ Bus should have taken action sooner to improve safety, including enhancing rear door visibility for drivers, fitting sensor systems to doors so they could not trap passengers, carrying out more frequent door mechanism safety checks and ensuring that better maintenance records were kept.

“While the company has made some improvement over time, it is extremely disappointing that matters have had to be progressed through the courts to achieve compliance.    

“This serves as a reminder to all public transport services that their first priority is to ensure the safety of the travelling public at all times, and that enforcement agencies will put these matters before the courts where appropriate when there are serious failings.

“This reflects Police and other agencies’ ongoing commitment to road safety and both preventing and reducing the impact of road trauma on our communities.”

ENDS

Media contact: Ross Henderson ph 021 192 2919