Doncaster bus driver ran level crossing red light causing £2k of damage, court told

Matthew Elder drove a First bus through a level crossing in Kirton Lane, Thorne when the light was red and damaged the barrier
Matthew Elder drove a First bus through a level crossing in Kirton Lane, Thorne when the light was red and damaged the barrier

A Doncaster town councillor had been working as a bus driver for two months when he drove a First bus through a level crossing on a red light causing £2,000 of damage, a court heard.

There were around 10 passengers on board when Matthew Elder, 33, drove a First bus through a level crossing in Kirton Lane, Thorne just before 4pm on January 22, after the crossing lights had turned red and the alarm had started to sound.

Matthew Elder (second from right) posed with fellow Askern town councillors at the level crossing in Moss Lane, Askern in June last year to back calls for action to be taken over traffic problems caused by the level crossing

Matthew Elder (second from right) posed with fellow Askern town councillors at the level crossing in Moss Lane, Askern in June last year to back calls for action to be taken over traffic problems caused by the level crossing

"As Your Honour can see [from the CCTV], the bus had almost cleared the junction when the descending barrier makes contact.

"At least one passenger on board shouted a warning," David Wain, prosecuting, told the court.

He added: "The collision caused a 90-minute delay, and £2,033 worth of damage to Network Rail."

No-one was injured in the collision.

A passenger on-board the bus, which also contained a mother with a child in a pushchair, described how the collision had left her feeling upset in a victim impact statement read out in court.

Mr Wain said: "She says she felt tearful when she explained it to friends and family."

When arrested by the police, Elder initially refused to comment but eventually told officers there was a bicycle that had distracted him when he ran the red light.

Mr Wain added: "When he realised the lights were flashing, he continued."

Elder, of Sherwood Road, Askern pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving at an earlier hearing.

As part of his role as a serving councillor for Askern Town Councillor, Elder has previously backed calls for action to be taken about traffic jams caused by a level crossing in Moss Lane, Askern.

Defending Elder, Mr Walter told the court that Elder was a man of 'exceptional character' who wanted to provide for his family, and also for society through his role as a local councillor.

Mr Walter said Elder resigned from his job as a bus driver 'which he loved' following the collision, and was now preparing for his role in traffic management to come to an end in anticipation of receiving a driving ban.

Judge Paul Watson QC sentenced Elder to a 12-month community order, ordered him to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and banned him from driving for a period of 12-months, after which time he will be required to take an extended driving test.

"You had been a bus driver for a couple of months when you came up to this level crossing, " said Judge Watson. He added: "You went through that junction as the barrier was coming down and didn't quite clear the barrier properly with your bus. It's easy to see how this could have been much worse."