Bus Services Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Paul Russell (BSB 29)

My name is Paul Russell and I am the former Head of the UK Transport Confidential Incident Reporting and Analysis System (CIRAS). I headed up CIRAS since 2012 and only recently have moved on to other things. I was responsible for confidential reporting (CIRAS) expanding outside of rail, where it had served that industry for more than twenty years. In January 2016 Transport for London (TfL) bus operators joined the scheme. I have been following with great interest the passage of the bus services bill and initially, with disappointment, at the lack of safety commitment the bill potentially was to deliver. I became aware of various amendments to the Bill, and more notably that tabled as Bus Safety Amendment NC5 - Zeichner, Greenwood & Dakin.

I have worked in transport for more than twenty five years and my experience extends to transport projects in the United Kingdom as well as in India, Australia and United Arab Emirates. In all cases my work has involved safety and what struck me in all instances, was how many different cultures that could co-exist in any one organisation, never mind industry, both of positive and negative experiences, but regardless of geography and/or corporate entity, was always heavily influenced by people. Not just Leadership, but at every level of an organisation. Confidential reporting is NOT whistle blowing. It is an opportunity for capturing behaviours that might otherwise contribute to those incidents that have yet to happen. It is NOT a he said, she said finger pointing blame tool. Used correctly, it is a corporate safety net, when all other routes to reporting fail, for whatever reason, by giving both staff and their peers that other line of defence.

A safety culture is a broad, organisation-wide approach to safety management. A safety culture is the end result of combined individual and group efforts toward values, attitudes, goals and proficiency of an organisation’s health and safety program. Transport for London in January 2016 along with its bus operators took a very positive step when they engaged in confidential reporting. The bus industry should value EVERY piece of intelligence and extract and exploit EVERY opportunity to learn from in the interests of prevention. Such efforts take time to mature, and are not the only solution to the issue of culture. But it’s a very good start. I note that-save those franchises directly contracted to TfL-no Bus Operator in the United Kingdom has subscribed to a confidential reporting scheme.

I urge all those involved to embrace this opportunity of confidential reporting and accept the Bus Safety Amendment NC5 proposed by Zeichner, Greenwood & Dakin. I am currently not engaged with any employment and therefore my recommendation is not driven by any other interest other than it is the right thing to do.

March 2017


Prepared 16th March 2017