Cambridgeshire

Speeding Cambridgeshire guided bus crash driver sacked

Crashed bus on Cambridgeshire guided busway. Image copyright Steven Kealey Orme
Image caption The bus crashed off the guided busway and into a wall near Cambridge railway station

A bus driver who was initially praised for avoiding cyclists during a crash has been sacked.

The driver, in his 50s, was injured in the crash on the guided busway near Cambridge railway station on 21 June. Two passengers on board were unhurt.

Whippet Coaches initially said they were "proud" he appeared to have swerved to avoid the cyclists.

However, an investigation found he was "speeding above 20mph in a 15mph zone", so was dismissed.

The bus left the concrete guided track on Clifton Way and smashed into a wall.

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Bus operator Whippet posted on Twitter at the time saying: "We believe our driver swerved to avoid two cyclists - putting their safety above his own - we are very proud of him."

Another tweet from the company read: "Initial reports from the driver and passengers is that the bus swerved to avoid a cyclist on the busway."

The tweet about the driver putting other people's safety first has since been removed.

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Media captionCambridge guided bus crashes into wall

Charlie Hamilton, managing director of Whippet, said: "An investigation by Whippet Coaches into the accident involving one of its buses along the Cambridgeshire guided busway on 21 June 2017 has found the driver was travelling above the speed limit.

"Our driver training programme has a robust safety component and we hold our drivers to the highest driving standards. The driver in this case failed to adhere to traffic regulations, and has been dismissed."

The driver was travelling at 24mph (38.5km/h) at the time of the crash - "so, considerably over the speed limit", Mr Hamilton said.

"Ultimately it was down to human error. The driver was speeding and that's the root cause of what happened."

Image copyright Twitter/Whippet Coaches

Asked about the company's tweets regarding a cyclist or cyclists on the track, he said: "It wasn't down to the cyclists, so for that tweet we apologise."

Last month a Cambridge city councillor bought her own speed gun after being concerned that buses on the guided route were going too fast.

Liberal Democrat Zoe O'Connell said she found a large percentage of buses were going faster than the 15mph limit near the railway station.

Image copyright Steven Kealey Orme
Image caption The busway was closed for several hours after the accident

The Cambridgeshire guided busway, which connects Cambridge with Huntingdon and St Ives, opened in 2011.

It carries thousands of passengers every day, with buses running on concrete tracks.

A busway driver working for another operator, Stagecoach, was fired for speeding after a crash in 2016 injured five people.

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