A BUS company has been fined £14,350 because some of its buses were late and some left too early.
GHA Coaches, which is based at Wrexham but which has its registered base at Betws GG, near Corwen, appeared before Traffic Commissioner David Dixon at a public inquiry held at Mold Crown Court.
The business, which operates 41 vehicles in Denbighshire, Wrexham and Flintshire, is owned by Eifion Lloyd Davies and operated on a day- to-day basis by his son Gareth.
In addition to the financial penalty, an order was made that the company could not add to its 20 registered services for a 12-month period.
The Commissioner was told that during two periods of monitoring by VOSA, the Vehicle and Operators Service Agency, the company complied with the registered time tables 78% of the time.
He imposed a penalty of £350 per vehicle after he found that the company had failed without reasonable excuse to operate services in accordance with its registration.
Mr Dixon described the response to the company to sort out complaints as 'painfully slow' and 'half-hearted'.
A formal warning was issued following complaints that the proper destinations were not always displayed on the front of the vehicles.
During two periods of monitoring by VOSA bus compliance officer Nesta Jones, it was found that the correct information was not displayed on 40 out of 387 occasions - one bus in 10.
On the issue of reliability, he said that of the 487 departures monitored, there had been 88 irregularities. A number of explanations had been put forward but for the most part they related to unrealistic schedules, he said. The Commissioner said there was a great responsibility on operators to work with the county councils to get the time tables right.
The other issue was put down to 'driver laziness' but that ultimately came down to management to ensure they did what they were employed to do, he said.
Problems had been identified at the beginning of 2001 and a meeting had agreed that issues needed to be addressed.
But Mr Dixon said that even after the report of the first monitoring period there had been 'no sense of urgency' in tackling the problems. It took two months for the company to reply to the allegations and he agreed that the response was inadequate.
The degree of reliability had clearly been a matter of concern to people locally, which 'can lead to a lack of trust in the bus service'.
The company had 'belatedly got the message' and had introduced a bonus scheme for drivers based on punctuality, there was a willingness to take disciplinary action against drivers, more resources were being spent on monitoring by the company, there was an improved complaints procedure and improved liaison with county councils.
New vehicles would be equipped with satellite tracking devices which would give the company up-to-date information on punctuality.