20 school buses fail safety spot checks in Northern Ireland
More than 20 school buses were found to have defects during spot safety checks across Northern Ireland last year.
And in one case a vehicle was taken off the road immediately as it was in such bad condition.
Figures revealed by the Department of Environment show 29 school buses were found to have faults last year by staff from the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).
Among them were 20 vehicles which were issued with a prohibition notice, preventing them from being driven as they were likely to become unfit for use.
In one case a bus was in such a dangerous condition the operator was issued with a licensing suspension notice, taking the vehicle off the road immediately.
Nine buses were given defect notices which required them to have faults fixed within 14 days and submit for a re-inspection.
Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone, who raised the issue in the Assembly after concerns were raised with him over child safety, described the figures as “shocking”.
“There were concerns that there were vehicles on the road that were unroadworthy, especially given that their passengers could be children.
“We need to send out a message that the minute anything is flagged up they must instantly act upon it,” he told Sunday Life.
Karen Magill, chief executive of the Federation of Passenger Transport NI, told Sunday Life that too many school buses were falling below the required safety standards and putting school children at risk.
“Our children must be transported to and from school in vehicles which are safe, secure and fit for purpose,” she said.
The Department of Education has called on the Education Authority to ensure all school buses comply with safety regulations.
“The department takes very seriously the safety of pupils and asks the Education Authority to ensure all vehicles used in the transport of pupils comply with the PSV Construction & Use Regulations,” said a spokesperson.
In their response, the Education Authority said the safety of pupils is of paramount importance.
“The authority owns and operates a large fleet of vehicles and also provides a number of transport services through contracts with private operators. We work closely with the DVA to ensure that all buses used for school transport meet the necessary safety standards,” it said.