London

Calls to tackle bus drivers over bridge barrier damage

A council wants bus drivers to be prosecuted, claiming they have caused more than £50,000 worth of damage to barriers on a west London bridge.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council says drivers have been pulling the arm off barriers on Hammersmith Bridge when they fail to operate automatically.

It now wants bus companies to reimburse them for the cost of the repairs.

London United, one firm that operates on the route, said its drivers had been told not to manually move the barrier.

It said "appropriate action" would be taken against drivers if correct procedures had not been followed.

Key fob

The safety barriers were installed at both sides of the bridge as a measure to prevent HGVs driving over the structure which, according to the council, was not built to withstand heavy traffic.

Transport for London (TfL) designed the barriers, but because the section where the barriers stand is not part of the TfL road network, the council has to pick up the repair bill.

The barriers should open automatically when a bus approaches. If that fails drivers should press a key fob they are issued with.

If the barrier still does not open drivers are supposed to dial a phone number which automatically opens the barrier.

But the council said it had spent an estimated £50,000 on repairing the barriers in the past year after drivers had pulled them off their stands.

'Minimise delays'

Councillor Nick Botterill said: "We are demanding that TfL and the bus companies pay us back as a matter of urgency and will also report any drivers that we catch in the act to the police."

London United, London General and Metroline all operate services across the bridge.

A statement from London United, which operates the most services, said there had been a number of incidents where the barrier had failed to operate automatically.

It said: "We are also aware that in some instances, in an effort to minimise the delay, our staff have taken direct action to try and move the barrier manually and that this has caused damage to it."

The company said it had issued clear instructions to stop drivers attempting to move the barrier manually.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites