Stagecoach strike Sheffield: Bus service to get worse before it gets better due to strike and more cuts
Bus services in Sheffield are going to get worse before they get better - a lot worse.
Thousands of passengers will be left stranded including school children. Notre Dame Catholic High School in Ranmoor has written to parents warning of longer journey times and disruption.
WHY ELSE ARE SERVICES SET TO GET WORSE?
Meanwhile, bus operator First South Yorkshire says there will be more service cuts in January due to driver shortages - which saw 130 journeys axed on Friday alone.
Supertram is running a reduced service for the same reason. A reader contacted The Star claiming it had 10 driver vacancies out of a full roster of 103, with just four in training.
Despite £20m of Covid support, and angry South Yorkshire politicians calling an emergency meeting with transport bosses, the crisis is set to grind on until March when First hopes to have trained enough new drivers to get back to a full complement, based on numbers in July.
WHY IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF DRIVERS?
It was after that point, when Covid restrictions were lifted, that drivers started to leave for jobs offering more leisure and family time, according to managing director Nigel Eggleton.
Today the ‘gap’ is 55 drivers of a required 670, with 16 in training.
Mr Eggleton said the firm had put up starting pay 10 per cent to £10.50-an-hour. This contrasts with the 4.5 per cent Stagecoach workers have been offered.
He added: “Restoring services is highly unlikely before Christmas. We will be doing our very best to provide the maximum level of service throughout South Yorkshire.”
WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG?
But from January the company is planning to reduce up to nine evening services from half-hourly to hourly.
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Meanwhile, passenger numbers have plateaued at 74 per cent of what they were before the pandemic - and government support runs out at the end of March.
In the ‘unlikely’ event it was not extended, that would ‘almost inevitably’ result in even more cuts, he added.
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Tim Bilby, managing director for Supertram, said: “As with many industries across the country, driver shortages are having an impact on our services and we unfortunately need to make some temporary timetable changes to maintain the reliability of key services and keep passengers connected.”