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Bus firm in free travel row warned

A BUS company accused of running "sham" excursions to take advantage of the Scottish Government's free travel scheme has been admonished following three years of legal wrangling.

Dundee-based Fishers Tours was revealed by The Herald in 2009 as one of several companies running "OAP special" day outings on which most passengers were aged over 60 and entitled to free travel.

It was later fined £12,650 and ordered to cancel six routes by the Traffic Commissioner after an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) found it had not stopped at scheduled stops. The decision was overturned by the Court of Session in January 2011 following an appeal.

A further ruling published yesterday by Nick Jones, Deputy Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, included a formal warning for a "significant" number of services that did not run to time or did not run at all.

But he decided not to order a further hearing that could have decided whether the timetable was a "sham" designed to claim a grant from the Scottish Government. The company had denied the claim.

Under the concessionary travel scheme – which has offered free bus travel to disabled passengers and anyone aged over 60 since 2006 – bus firms are not entitled to claim money back for "tours, excursions and group hire services".

James Cosgrove, head of Fishers, declined to comment last night.

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