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INDEPENDENT coach and bus operators last week hit back at the inference that they are mostly cowboys who operate unsafe services with poorly maintained vehicles.
On behalf of the Bus and Coach Council's independent sector, Ron Whittle of Go Whittle sought to correct the image portrayed by those opposing the Government's bus service deregulation plans in the buses White Paper.
He said that there have been constant references to the independents who may take over deregulated routes as "cowboys."
"It would be an understatement to say that the hundreds and thousands of reputable, licensed and safe private operators who already exist are more than a little upset by these insults," he said.
Explaining the independents' general welcome for the White Paper Mr Whittle qualified this by adding: "We do not believe that total deregulation is necessarily the best solution.
"We have worries on how freedom for taxis and minbuses will affect conventional bus services and we want better financial control of operators providing local bus services."