PASSENGERS have hit out at Stagecoach following mass cancellations in services across Stroud this week.
Yesterday, Tuesday, nearly 50 services were cancelled in or near Stroud.
This frustration with the services comes as Stagecoach has announced it will be cutting some routes in Gloucestershire in the near future.
Driver shortages plus the continuing impact of the pandemic on sickness levels are two reasons given for the day to day cancellations.
But passengers are demanding action.
“I finished work at 5.30pm on Friday in Dursley but as my buses didn’t turn up or were cancelled I didn’t actually get to my home in Stonehouse until 8.30pm,” said Hayley Whiting.
Another passenger says they often arrive home late.
“I keep getting stuck with my girls after school on a lot of days I don’t get back till 6.30pm after my sister finishes work and picks us up,” said Tania Larner.
Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie says she shares the ‘deep concerns about services in Gloucestershire’.
“There is no doubt that its current level of service to the public and school children is unacceptable.
“I have raised local queries with Stagecoach and through updates received understand that its recruitment and training of drivers has improved.
“Stagecoach is subsidised by the taxpayer through GCC to deliver its bus service to school children and our rural communities, not just to focus on the most commercially profitable routes.”
Stroud mayor Stella Parkes said public transport plays a vital role in Stroud.
“While we appreciate the recruitment challenges that all companies currently face, many people depend on public transport to get to work, to attend education or travel for important appointments,” she said.
“Regular bus service is not a luxury but essential and without it people who do not have access to private transport become more marginalised in our society.”
Stagecoach says the cuts in services due to take place in Gloucestershire will not affect Stroud or Dursley.
The managing director for Stagecoach West says however that these proposals are designed to ‘ensure they can deliver services consistently.’
“The continuing impact of the pandemic on sickness levels, as well as the economy-wide skills challenge is real and incredibly impactful on the day-to-day running of our business,” said Rachel Geliamassi, managing director.
“This has resulted in services in Gloucestershire being cancelled at short notice in recent months.
“To balance our network to our current resource, we have provided GCC with a package of changes to update our network.
“These changes are designed to ensure we can deliver services consistently for our customers.
“As part of these changes, we have given notice to the council that we will no longer be able to run a small number of tendered services.
“While this was a difficult decision, our priority is to ensure that we can successfully deliver on services that are used by the majority of our customers.”
A GCC cabinet member has expressed disappointment at the cuts.
“We are very disappointed that Stagecoach has given notice that it no longer wishes to run some bus services,” said Philip Robinson, cabinet member responsible for bus transport.
“These cuts will affect some of the most vulnerable people in the county leaving them without basic transport services to get to work, medical appointments and generally go about their lives.
“We still hope to work with Stagecoach on finding suitable proposals for Gloucestershire.”