South Yorkshire bus company apologise after 60 services were cancelled in a single day
A South Yorkshire bus company boss has apologised for failing passengers in the region.
Bus users have been complaining of irregular and absent services for weeks, and last month The Star was told that 60 buses were cancelled in a single day, leaving hundreds of people unable to get to work, school, hospital or the shops.
Now Garry Birmingham, the managing director of First Bus in Sheffield, has acknowledged services had been poor in recent weeks but has promised the situation is ‘improving’.
Mr Birmingham said the main problem - as well as seasonal congestion and city centre road-works - has been vehicle availability.
He said: “We have been experiencing major issues following the very wet weather which caused excessive amounts of electrical and water ingress faults.
“This was compounded by parts availability issues due to business changes at one of our main suppliers Wrightbus, which is now starting to ease following their takeover completion.
“Although the issue of vehicle availability is improving, we are taking a number of specific additional actions to ensure we can achieve and sustain stable service delivery.
“This includes sourcing vehicle parts from alternative suppliers, bringing in additional technical expertise, using additional workshops to complete repairs and bringing in extra vehicles into the fleet.
“In all we will receive 26 newer vehicles over the next few weeks, the first of which have now started to arrive. In addition our recruitment drive is continuing for engineering staff and other engineering options are being explored to ensure we are suitably equipped going forward.
“I would like to apologise to all our customers for the impact this is having on their travel and assure them we are doing everything we can to recover our current vehicle availability issues and deliver the high standards of service we can be proud of.”
The issue of bus services has been a hot political topic in Sheffield and the wider region recently, with city region mayor Dan Jarvis commissioning a review of the system chaired by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.
Community union Acorn have been urging the region to adopt a London-style bus franchising system, and complained First Bus were refusing to take an active part in the consultation process.
A franchising system would effectively end bus deregulation in the region, putting ticketing, routes and timetables back in the hands of local politicians.