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Millions wasted on new motorcycle 'super test centres'

Tuesday 23rd March 2010

The Transport Committee has concluded that the Government's decision to introduce large Multi Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs) and close down many small, convenient motorcycle test sites was unjustified.

In a report launched today, the Transport Committee concludes that the implementation of the new MPTCs was bungled, and that it delayed the introduction of the new test. The report says that almost 11 months after the introduction of the new test, it is unacceptable that the Driving Standards Agency has failed to get all 66 planned centres operational, inconveniencing motorcyclists and trainers and driving up the cost of doing a test.

Louise Ellman MP, committee chair, said: "Many candidates and trainers now have to travel too far for their motorcycle test. This adds to the cost, and in some cases, exposes candidates to fast and dangerous roads on the way to a test site - before they have even taken their test.

"The Driving Standards Agency needs to give much greater priority to customer service and convenience for test candidates and trainers."

In its report, The new European motorcycle test, MPs conclude that the Driving Standards Agency was slow and dogmatic in its approach to test centres, failing to listen adequately to the motorcycle industry. Smaller test sites could have been retained, saving millions of pounds. No other country in Europe has found it necessary to build 'super test sites'.

Mrs Ellman adds: "A more pragmatic approach would have cost far less for all concerned. Problems with the new test booking systems and opening hours, have been bad for business. If the new test brings financial ruin to the motorcycle training industry then we will have gone backwards."

The Committee believes the Driving Standards Agency and the motorcycle industry now need to work together to raise the standard and consistency of motorcycle training. MPs also reiterate their 2007 recommendation that the current voluntary registration of motorcycle instructors be made mandatory.

In response a Driving Standards Agency spokesman said: "We welcome the committee's support for our decision to make the motorcycle test more robust and their acknowledgement that this is likely to improve road safety.

"The new multi-purpose test centres provide motorcycle and driving test candidates with safe, spacious and modern testing facilities, replacing older, less well equipped centres. We have worked hard to find suitable sites and 88% of the population now live within 45 minutes or 20 miles of a module 1 motorcycle test centre.

"We thank the committee for its report and will respond fully to all its recommendations in due course."

Click here to read the full Transport Committee press notice.

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All motorcycle instructors delivering compulsory basic training (CBT)are required to be assessed and certified by the DSA. Those instructors running approved training bodies and supervising the delivery of CBT are required to have satisfactorily completed the DSA's assessment at Cardington in Bedfordshire. Those instructors delivering Direct Access training (DAS) are required to have satisfactorily completed a specific DSA assessment at Cardington, and are hence registered.

The voluntary register is the Register of Post-Test Motorcycle Trainers (RPMT). These trainers deliver the DSA's Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS), this is a relatively new initiative that is only available to full motorcycle licence holders. There is no statutory requirement for full motorcycle licence holders to participate in the ERS. The ERS is an excellent scheme and a first rate value for money product. The DSA are to be congratulated for doing a first class job in partnership with a number of key stakeholders in developing and launching the ERS. It is early days with the ERS, however, I believe there is great potential for growth. The key is in the marketing and public relations, and the DSA are moving in the right direction with this.

We already have compulsory registration for motorcycle instructors delivering CBT and DAS.

It is important to prioritise limited resources and deal with the current problem areas - the perception of the new test & MPTC's. Let's sort these before introducing another layer of red tape.
mark - Wiltshire

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