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Stagecoach grilled by concerned councillors

Friday, November 15th, 2019 1:10pm

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

The firm's Operational Director described a staff shortage

Buses not stopping, a shortage of drivers, and idling buses were among the concerns councillors raised over Stagecoach’s bus service around Exeter.

The Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on Monday had the chance to quiz Paul Clark, Operational Director, Stagecoach South West, on developments affecting bus services and the network in and around Exeter.

Councillors raised a series of concerns about the service in Exeter. They were:

  • Buses are missing the stop on Sidmouth Road (near the Digby Arch).
  • the Park and Ride green route is now stopping at all the stops
  • drivers are leaving their engines idling when vehicles are stopped
  • Buses are not allowed to leave destinations early
  • Serious staff shortages were resulting in cancellations of services
  • NHS staff being required to show three forms of ID to get to the bus to the hospital
  • Bus stops around Bovemoors Lane in the wrong place

In response, Mr Clark explained that there have been issues with staff that have caused them problems, and that there was even one Saturday where he had to drive a bus himself to keep the service running.

Cllr Rob Hannaford had said that he had been told that Stagecoach were around 25-30 drivers short, and asked whether it was due to drivers retiring, sickness, or Brexit, and what Stagecoach were doing to tackle it.

In response, Mr Clark confirmed that there had been some challenges the company had faced in recent months. He said: “It is a very challenging job market at the moment. We were at one stage 12 drivers short but that was mainly down to staff sickness, and I even had to drive on one Saturday myself.

“We are now only three drivers short but we are getting back on an even keel now.”

In response to the other questions, Mr Clark said that drivers would be re-educated to ensure that they do not miss the stop on Sidmouth Road, that if a driver leaves a stop early, then it technically means that the service is not punctual in arriving on time, discussions would be held around the location of bus stops in Bovemoors Lane and that NHS staff only need to show their NHS pass to a bus driver.

He added that drivers would be reminded about engine idling and said that all vehicles were tracked and monitored and instances should be reported to Stagecoach, and that the Park-and-Ride Green route now stops at all the stops to increase patronage, as it had been a loss making service.

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