The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland has said that she is in “no doubt” that the Buchan Xpress coaches have accessibility problems.
The Commissioner statement comes in response to a formal complaint against the buses my Councillor Jim Ingram earlier this year.
Joan Aitken, The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, said: “I am in no doubt that this style of vehicle presents difficulties to any traveller for whom stepping up is a difficulty and that there are other features relative to layout, including the bell location which are not compatible with restricted mobility or reach.”
The Commissioner said that she had written to Stagecoach, the company who runs the bus service, and given them her view.
She also asked the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, for a full technical report on the vehicles.
Councillor Ingram, who lodged the formal complaint, said that it had taken a “long time” to get to this stage but was happy that the Commissioner was now showing an interest in the buses.
Cllr Ingram said: “She has now said that there is a definite problem with them.”
He added: “People have had serious accidents on them.
“The height of the steps going up to the seating level are far in excess of what is required for a service bus.”
Stagecoach have however said that the DVSA has already undertaken the checks sought by the Traffic Commissioner.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “The DVSA has now undertaken the checks requested by the Traffic Commissioner.
“The DVSA has also confirmed to us that these checks have reaffirmed our position and that of the coach manufacturer that our vehicles fully comply with the relevant accessibility legislation.”
The DVSA has confirmed that a report was issued in relation to the Traffic Commissioner’s request.Last month Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP also spoke out against the buses, calling them “a mistake”.
Speaking at the time, Dr Whiteford said: “It’s quite clear that Stagecoach have made a mistake in choosing this particular model.
“While it may meet the statutory requirements, I continue to receive complaints from bus users.
She continued: “Given the number of older people, disabled passengers and parents of babies or toddlers relying on the buses, it’s important that our public transport is accessible to all parts of the community.”
Dr Whiteford had met with representatives from Stagecoach following complaints from her constituents.
She said: “In terms of the legislation, I will be seeking a debate on bus accessibility at the earliest possible opportunity”