A CARE home volunteer with epilepsy is being forced to hitchhike because of the mass bus cancellations in Stroud.
Buses are a lifeline for Lorna Parker who lives in Chalford and volunteers at a care home in Cirencester as she cannot drive due to her medical condition.
“When my husband and I moved to Chalford in 2001 there was a bus from there to Stroud and Cirencester every 20 minutes – it’s why we chose to live there,” she said.
“Now all of these services have gone apart from one every two hours on a weekday between 8am and 5pm only three in total on Saturday and none on Sunday.
“Before the pandemic, I had started hitchhiking regularly along the A419 to Stroud and Cirencester and home again and I am starting to do that again now.
“I volunteer at the care home three times a week and I have to make sure the days I go coincide with bus times.
“It’s the same with two other volunteering roles I have in Stroud.
“On a Saturday I cannot buy too much at the farmers’ market because it either involves a long walk home or a long wait at a bus stop due to the lack of services.
“Local buses are my lifeline.
“I spend several hours a week just waiting at bus stops.
“For example, last Tuesday at Merrywalks at 1pm I met an elderly lady having to wait one and a half hours for a bus to Ebley as two consecutive Stagecoach 64s had been cancelled.
“She had nowhere to even sit down.
“It was up to me to tell waiting passengers about the cancellations.”
Stagecoach says that they appreciate cancellations are ‘incredibly frustrating’.
“Like many industries across the country experiencing staffing shortages, we’re no exception,” said a spokesperson.
“This, coupled with sickness absence, sometimes impacts on services in and around Stroud.
“We appreciate that cancellations are incredibly frustrating and we would like to apologise to any customers affected.
“There are a variety of ways for customers to find out the latest service updates, including on our social media and the Stagecoach Bus App, which we update as quickly as possible.
“Our customer services team is also available by phone should passengers prefer an offline form of communication”