The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the news that the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has met its target of opening 40 new Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs) in the financial year, bringing the grand total of ATFs to 49 since the Testing Transformation Programme started in January last year. The Agency has announced its commitment to new private facilities in Gloucester and in Barry – the first open access ATF in Wales.
James Firth, FTA’s Head of Road Freight and Enforcement Policy, said:
"VOSA is really showing it means business with its Testing Transformation Programme. ATFs should mean reduced costs for operators by bringing the point of test closer to the point of maintenance and therefore reduce vehicle downtime, the fuel for journey from maintenance to test and the cost of a skilled fitter’s time driving to test. For some larger operators who have invested in private ATFs for their own fleet there is a palpable sense of excitement at the new-found flexibility this programme allows them."
VOSA also announced the closure of three more test stations in Liverpool, Glasgow and Gloucester and indicated that there was further interest in private capacity being established in these areas.
"Obviously an operator based next to Bishopbriggs Goods Vehicle Testing Station in Glasgow is going to feel aggrieved at having to get their vehicles to Bellshill – the nearest ATF – for tests. But with this announcement operators will not be left feeling high and dry, not knowing where they will test their vehicles as they did – and remain so – following the November announcement of the closure of Mitcham Test Station in Surrey. While the like-for-like capacity and capability of the alternative facilities in Gloucester, Liverpool and Glasgow remain to be examined, the understood principle of establishing private capacity before closing VOSA test stations appears to have been acknowledged in this announcement."
FTA continues to press VOSA to indicate to operators dependent on Mitcham Test Station where they can hope to take their vehicles after its closure in July.