Chesterfield bus users 'angry' after dozens of services cancelled due to Stagecoach driver shortage

Chesterfield bus users have criticised company bosses after dozens of services were cancelled ‘for the foreseeable future’ because of staff shortages.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:39 pm

Stagecoach has blamed ‘challenges beyond our control’ after scrapping some of its buses connecting Chesterfield with Brimington, Holme Hall, Clay Cross and other local destinations.

The firm says Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic are having a severe impact on bus operators, but Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins says the ‘perfect storm’ of problems must be sorted out.

Meanwhile, trade union Unite has warned bus passengers in Chesterfield will ‘face serious disruption this autumn and winter’ if Stagecoach does not stop ‘penny-pinching’ and reach agreement with drivers and cleaners in a pay dispute.

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Mum Kirsty Maycock, 33, who uses the number 74 bus to travel from her home in Inkersall to Staveley, where she works, said the service had not turned up on ‘numerous’ occasions recently.

“I go from Attlee Road to Staveley Square where I work in the pharmacy, so rely on that bus once I've done the school run to get me into work,” Kirsty said.

“We have complained but they don’t seem interested.”

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins says residents are angry after dozens of buses were cancelled ‘for the foreseeable future’ because of staff shortages.

Emma Greaves said she was having to walk from Middlecroft to Poolsbrook every day with her two children because the bus was not turning up.

“I'm having to walk there with my seven and two-year-olds,” the 34-year-old mum said.

"It's freezing already and as the weather gets worse I just don't know what I'll do.

"I'm paying £25.50 a week for week riders and they’re getting no use.”

Users of Chesterfield Bus Station have criticised company bosses after dozens of services were cancelled ‘for the foreseeable future’ because of staff shortages.

Lesley Marples, whose daughter uses the 54 bus as part of her journey to and from Brookfield Community School, said the service was unacceptable.

Her daughter buys a weekly pass but was only able to use it twice last week due to buses being too full or running late.

Labour MP Mr Perkins held a virtual meeting this week with John Young, commercial director at Stagecoach Yorkshire, to discuss the disruption.

“I have been contacted by numerous angry residents who have been unable to get their children to school on time, been late for work or been left waiting at bus stops not knowing what is happening,” he said.

"This has a massive impact on people’s lives and the local economy.

“From speaking to Mr Young, it is clear that there is a perfect storm at the moment that is causing the disruption, and which could lead to further chaos if steps are not taken to address the driver shortage in Derbyshire and across the country.

"I am informed that significant numbers of drivers have been leaving Stagecoach, for a wide variety of reasons, meaning they simply cannot cover every journey.”

Mr Perkins said bus driving was a skilled job that ‘has not seen the wage growth that the profession deserves’ and many drivers were being ‘poached’ by companies like DPD and Amazon.

"The immigration rules following Brexit have also made it extremely difficult to recruit drivers from abroad,” he added.

“Another major factor in driver shortages is delays to provisional bus licences to allow new drivers to train.

"Long delays at the DVLA are seeing people waiting three to four months to receive a provisional licence.

“Stagecoach Yorkshire are currently in negotiations with RMT and Unite who are representing staff in a dispute over pay and conditions but state that the reason for service delays and cancellations is driver shortages, not industrial action.”

However, union leaders say they will fight a ‘relentless campaign’ this autumn and winter for better pay and conditions for Stagecoach employees at the Stonegravels depot in Chesterfield.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite members all over the UK are voting for industrial action right now over Stagecoach’s ‘penny pinching’ on pay.”

The union said Chesterfield staff are ‘incensed’ that the company is using Covid as ‘an excuse’ when they worked right through the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach in Chesterfield said: “Our teams are working incredibly hard to ensure we continue to run the vast majority of our timetabled services and we remain focused on prioritising the services we know are most important for our customers.

“As is the case with many organisations and sectors in the economy, the pandemic is continuing to impact our business. Issues such as Brexit and the DVLA taking longer to process bus driver licences has added to these challenges beyond our control.

“We are working round the clock to recruit people into our team and train them in the roles that we need, and we are seeing a strong demand for jobs.

"However, it takes an average of 10 weeks for a professional bus driver to be fully trained and any delays outside our control in the processing of licences means we cannot get them on the road on our network as fast as we would like.

“We apologise to our customers who have been affected by any short term service changes, and we would like to thank them for their patience.”

The following services will not be running in the area ‘for the foreseeable future’:

Service 80 from Chesterfield at 07:15, 08:25, 09:45, 10:45, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45, 14:45, 15:50 and 16:57;

Service 80 from Brimington at 06:40, 07:48, 08:55, 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:17, 16:23 and 17:30;

Services 51 From Chesterfield at 07:25, 09:03, 10:44, 12:24, 14:03, 15:42 and 17:27;

Services 39 from Grangewood at 08:01, 09:08, 10:23, 11:38, 12:53, 14:08, 15:23 and 16:38;

Services 39 from Holme Hall at 07:32, 08:35, 09:50, 11:05, 12:20, 13:35, 14:50 and 16:05;

Services 54/54a from Clay Cross at 06:51, 07:18, 07:51, 08:19, 09:01, 09:25, 10:01, 11:01, 15:28, 16:33 and 17:35;

Services 54/54a from Chesterfield at 06:20, 07:20, 07:48, 08:28, 08:54, 09:30, 10:30, 14:53, 15:59, 17:01 and 18:04;

Services 54/54a from Clay Cross at 06:51, 07:18, 07:51, 08:19, 09:01, 09:25, 10:01, 11:01, 15:28, 16:33 and 17:35.