Buses ordered off road after death of owner

Some Coakley buses are off the road after owner Eddie's death.
Some Coakley buses are off the road after owner Eddie's death.

Services have been forced off the road and drivers laid off just weeks after the sudden death of a Bellshill bus company boss.

The Traffic Commissioner ruled the operating licence held by the late Eddie Coakley must be ‘terminated’ and rejected a plea from his family to continue the business as usual.

This week Mr Coakley’s son Edward apologised to passengers for the sudden withdrawal of buses from routes in the area, but said the family had been left with no option.

However, he stressed he is keen to restore services and ‘continue our father’s legacy’.

Mr Coakley senior died in hospital aged 57 last month after complications following throat surgery.

Services on the 240 route from Cleland to Viewpark and the 291 from Newarthill to Motherwell have stopped after the Traffic Commissioner’s decision on the licence which was in the name of Mr Coakley senior.

The 107 and 109 services operated by the family’s associated Airbles company are still running.

Mr Coakley said 17 employees including drivers, mechanics and cleaners were laid off at short notice on Friday.

He said: “I felt really bad - it was heartbreaking to pay them off. Some had worked for my dad for years.”

Mr Coakley said Traffic Commisioner Joan Aitken has the power to delay the termination of a licence for one year or up to 18 months in special circumstances and he wrote to her office in the hope she would do that.

Mr Coakley wrote “I request a grace period for the family to operate on this licence to allow us to apply for a new operator’s licence and continue our father’s legacy.”

However, a letter from Miss Aitken’s office informed him: “The Traffic Commissioner has considered this request and has directed that the licence must be terminated and any local registered services must come to an end forthwith.”

Mr Coakley said: “It was all very sudden and we didn’t even have time to put up posters on the buses thanking customers for their patronage over the years.”

More on this story in the Times & Speaker, out now.