A driver has been sacked and banned from driving school buses after letting seven pupils ride in the luggage compartment of a coach.
Richard Andrew Short, from Yate, described his actions as a “moment of madness.”
Mr Short will now not be able to drive school buses for the following 10 years as his passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) driving licence has been revoked.
CCTV showed footage of the 49-year-old laughing and smiling as he let the secondary school pupils into the luggage compartment before he set off for his school run.
On June 12, he was taking children on his regular school run, which he had done for several months.
On the morning run, he allowed a child to enter the luggage compartment and drove around for about a minute and a half, CCTV footage showed.
That afternoon, he let seven children climb into the luggage compartment, and drove for three minutes before letting them out.
The panel was also told Mr Short allowed children to stand alongside him while he was driving, and that he appeared to be relaxed, laughing and smiling.
He told the panel the children were ‚Äúvery demanding‚ÄĚ and that they saw it as ‚Äúwind the driver up day‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúMr Short referred to one child as the ‘ringleader’ who had wanted to travel in the luggage compartment. He had been continually pestered by this ringleader,‚ÄĚ the traffic commissioner‚Äôs report read.
He decided to give in and allowed the ‚Äėringleader‚Äô to travel in the lockers in what he admitted was ‚Äúa moment of madness‚ÄĚ.
Word got round and other children pestered him to let them do so, and Mr Short said the ‚Äėringleader‚Äô was swearing and shouting at him.
At the time of the incident, the driver said he had been suffering from stress in his personal life, with his mum being very ill.
He had asked for time off, but this was refused by his company, the South Gloucestershire Bus and Coach Limited, due to a shortage of drivers.
The firm admitted they had been aware of Mr Short‚Äôs problems.
In his report, commissioner Kevin Rooney wrote: ‚ÄúMr Short told me that he knew he had been stupid. He wasn‚Äôt a bad person.
‚ÄúHe had asked for time off. He had asked to be taken off that route. His employer and he himself had spoken to the school about the pupils‚Äô behaviour.
‚ÄúHe had to stop the coach several times to try to regain control. The children thought it was all a joke.‚ÄĚ
Mr Short, who was an experienced bus driver, had started his career with First Bus before moving to other operators and finally South Gloucestershire Bus and Coach Limited.
Mr Rooney said despite Mr Short‚Äôs reasons, he had endangered the safety of the children taking the bus.
‚ÄúParents entrust the safety of their children to the bus and coach drivers who take them to and from school. Driving a bus or coach is a professional occupation and requires much more than just being the steersman,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúChildren should wear seatbelts and be seated in properly constructed seats when travelling, even for relatively short periods.
‚ÄúI do not underestimate how difficult that can be at times for drivers but there is always an option simply to stop.
‚ÄúChildren have to be kept under control. The school and parents have very important roles in that but it is only the driver who can take the direct action at the time when children are getting out of hand ‚Äď as at least a few very clearly were on that journey.‚ÄĚ
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