South Yorkshire bus complaints decrease

Improvements: Ben Gilligan, regional performance director, First buses. Pictured at Olive Grove depot in Sheffield
Improvements: Ben Gilligan, regional performance director, First buses. Pictured at Olive Grove depot in Sheffield
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COMPLAINTS made by First South Yorkshire’s passengers have fallen by 25 per cent – down to 150 each week from 200 a year ago.

Ben Gilligan, the company’s regional performance director, said efforts are being made to tackle continuing problems such as ‘bunching’ – a gap in the service then several buses arriving at once.

Changes are being made including having more vehicles on routes allowing more ‘lag time’ at termini, allowing normal frequency to be restored.

Mr Gilligan said punctuality rose to 92 per cent last month, from 90 per cent in March 2012.

On one service, the X5 from Sheffield to Dinnington, where there have been particular problems, Mr Gilligan is planning changes including a dedicated team of drivers and newer buses. Managers will also go out to meet passengers.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilligan said the company has taken a new approach with drivers, after years of industrial relations problems which culminated in a three-week strike in 2005. A pay rise for the coming year of 2 per cent has been agreed amicably.

Mr Gilligan said: “In the past, we were perhaps too introspective in our approach, thinking too much about return for shareholders. We want to change that.”

First is also launching new buses on routes 51, 52 and 76 in Sheffield this summer.

Bus passengers have backed the changes.

Nancy Grayson, of Lodge Moor, said: “I use the 51 route and the biggest problem is that of several buses coming at once.

“Efforts to resolve that issue would be important.”

Linda Daniels, of Firth Park, served by the 76 service, said: “It will be a big improvement to have these new vehicles.”