The owners of a coach that ground to a halt on the M62 after a wheel came off were allegedly warned the day before that the vehicle was unsafe.
Rigby’s Executive Coaches was already under scrutiny by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) when the rail replacement bus from Manchester to Huddersfield, which was carrying Town fans, came to grief at the weekend as it approached Outlane.
Now one of their former drivers says a culture of penny-pinching and poor mechanical maintenance makes him frightened for passenger safety.
The company, based in Accrington, runs a fleet of older vehicles. The coach at the centre of Saturday’s incident, which saw a wheel fly off, was built in 1994.
Andrew Jackson, 54, said he drove the bus the day before the incident. He says he complained about an incorrectly fitted mirror, which prevented him from safely viewing the carriageway, and issues with the steering.
He said he was told to fill in a defect sheet, which would flag the problem with mechanics.
But he claims the issue was not remedied and that the vehicle was listed to go out on another run at 2.45am the following morning - and the problem was not fixed.
“There are a constant stream of mechanical failures that should be picked up but are not being picked up,” he said.
“They are taking unsafe vehicles on the road and putting passengers’ lives at risk.
“They think they are above the law.”
The breakdown on Saturday evening prompted 84-year-old Maureen Procter, who was returning from Town’s games against VfB Stuttgart and Torino FC with her daughter, to hitch-hike home.
The company lost nearly half its fleet and had its international licence downgraded to a national licence last month following an investigation by Traffic Commissioner Simon Evans.
Over the last five years the company has received more than a hundred roadside prohibitions.
One of the issues highlighted in a previous inspection was unsatisfactory maintenance of its ageing mixed fleet of vehicles.
Mr Jackson added: “These issues are going on and on. I would advise people not to use Rigby’s coaches. They should not be allowed to keep going. This was a major incident. Someone is going to end up dying.”
The Examiner contacted Rigby’s for a comment. A spokeswoman said she was unaware of Saturday’s incident and that no one was available to comment as all senior managers were on holiday.