Bus drivers on the road to ruin

HUNDREDS of bus drivers have been caught putting passengers' safety at risk by speeding and jumping red lights, new figures showed today.

More than 350 tickets were issued for the two offences in the past five years, with 95 in the last year alone.

Operators Stagecoach and Lothian Buses today pledged to take action against those caught breaking the law after the information was released to the Evening News using Freedom of Information laws.

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Of the 226 tickets handed out for running red lights, the most common locations were at Chesser Avenue, Hope Park Terrace in Newington and Telford Road at its junction with Hillhouse Road.

Colin McNeill, manager of the Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership, said: "It is always a concern when any driver runs a red light or exceeds the speed limit.

"They are putting themselves, their passengers, pedestrians and other road users at risk."

He added: "When a vehicle runs a red light there are significant risks to everyone using the junction. In a car, let alone a bus, a side impact crash can result in serious injuries."

The worst offenders were drivers working for Lothian Buses, although the company has by far the biggest presence of any bus company in the city. Of the 95 incidents last year, 34 involved Lothian Buses' vehicles.

George McKendrick, Lothian Buses' operations manager, said the company operated its own speed traps as well as using plain clothes staff to check up some drivers. He said: "Any driver caught speeding or running red lights are expected to pay any associated fines personally.

"They are also given a final written warning from the company and any further offences that occur in the next two to three years could result in dismissal."

He added: "We take offences like these very seriously."

Edinburgh's first red light cameras were introduced in 1993. There are now more than 20 sites across the city. However, only six operate at any one time.

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A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: "Incidents such as this are few and far between across our network considering the number of miles operated by our drivers.

"However, any reports of excessive speed or running a red light are fully investigated, the driver interviewed and our internal disciplinary procedures are followed as required."

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