VOSA aiming for more flexibility as it rolls out ATF contract19 February 2010
The eagerly awaited contract for VOSA's new-style authorised testing facilities (ATFs) has been unveiled by the testing agency. Alastair Peoples, CEO of VOSA, responding to previous criticisms of test station closures, says it is his intention to increase services and add flexibility, rather than take them away.
The contracts will be for a fixed five-year term, with the facility operator obliged to provide the site and equipment, and to meet health and safety regulations.
Building on the concept of 'designated premises' (DPs), the new ATFs will provide a more structured approach to testing, with more responsibility on VOSA's shoulders, according to Peoples.
"We believe conversion rates [from test centres of DPs] will be helped by the introduction of compensation for non-appearance, which in some cases could amount to more than the income gained for running the test," says Richard Smith, programme manager of the project.
He admits that initially the project lacked clarity in terms of how the ATF network would operate. "We appreciate that it has been a long time coming, and have been working hard, together with the industry, to get to this point."
TruckEast Wellingborough, itself a former DP, is one of the first operators to sign up, along with Wincanton and Scania. TruckEast describes the conversion as "seamless". John Biggin, the operators' managing director, believes it is a big step towards reducing unnecessary journeys and realising more consistent test results, as vehicles will be tested at their place of repair and maintenance.
"We will be investing in other ATFs throughout our group, with the next one to come on line at our Stowmarket branch," Biggin reveals.
Peoples explains that while it was never VOSA's intention to resort to site closures, that scenario may be a consequence of the work migrating away from some test facilities, making them not economically viable.
"We now have three types of testing – our test centres, the DPs and now ATFs – and this clearly isn't a good business model," he says.
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
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