Thank you to everyone who attended the meeting with Stagecoach at the Loundsley Green Community Centre to discuss concerns about local bus services and hear Stagecoach’s explanation for service failures and their measures to address them.
The meeting was well attended and gave constituents the opportunity to make Stagecoach managers aware of the impact that the delays and disruption of bus services has on local people, as well as express the level of failure that they have experienced.
I know how important local bus services are for so many people. Buses are the most used method of public transport in England – with 2.8 billion passenger journeys in 2021/22. They are vital for children getting to school, people getting to work, health appointments, shopping, days out, visiting family, going to the Jobcentre. And they are so important for older people, who may rely on buses even for relatively short journeys, and who can become socially isolated if services are reduced. The delays and cancellations being reported, particularly with the 39 service, have been unacceptable and I thank Stagecoach for being open and honest about the problems passengers have experienced in Chesterfield and their willingness to meet with residents and councillors.
With regards to the specific complaints and ideas raised at the meeting, the Operations Manager for Stagecoach in Chesterfield tells me:
- Going forward, Stagecoach are giving their office staff extra guidance and training so if they have to have a bus missing for any reason, they will cancel it on the app and make sure the next one will run. If the second was to suffer an issue, they have assured me they will get another bus from another route to accommodate.
- Provisions have been put in place to make sure their last buses run by highlighting them on their running sheets – which should mean they are always treated as a priority service.
- Investigations into the 39 & X17 connections to Wirksworth are being looked into and our findings will be passed onto the commercial department to investigate,
- On 9th of July at 11:30am, Stagecoach were informed of 4 buses missing. They state that a bus operated in the Holme Hall area at 11:45 and then at 12:34. The 12:34 was running 20 minutes late possibly due to the increased patronage due to one missing. This is still not acceptable and I am hoping that the actions being taken will prevent this from happening again.
- The suggestions for a Holme Hall to Bakewell route and a service for Ashgate and Deerlands estates have are being looked into by Stagecoach’s commercial department. I will keep you updated on any developments.
- Stagecoach have confirmed, as they said in the meeting, that in the event of passengers missing a service due to the bus not turning up, the firm will reimburse them if they have to take a taxi instead on production of a valid signed and dated taxi receipt for the journey
I have also been informed that last week, 98.72% of services from the Chesterfield depot were running correctly – which I am hoping is an indicator that the staffing and technical problems that were causing delays and cancellations have now been resolved.
Reliability is crucial. Without confidence that buses will run and run on time, passengers will make other arrangements or not travel at all which is totally unacceptable in this day and age.
It is clear that staffing shortages- both amongst driving and engineering staff have been the biggest cause of these failures.
Stagecoach also tell me that they are “working closely with Derbyshire County Council on a range of measures to realign services across Chesterfield, so they better reflect current demand. These include a number of improvements, some as a direct result of customer requests. Further details of these will be available in the next few weeks”. Hopefully, we will have some firm details soon on what these improvements will be and when they will be implemented. One of the things definitely being considered is introducing a number of late services, which will mean people can go into town for a drink, dinner or the theatre and know that they can still get the bus home. This will be a positive step for passengers and for local businesses and the town’s night time economy.
I will be having further meetings with Stagecoach and will be providing regular updates. Please be assured that I will do all I can to ensure that Chesterfield people have a service they can rely on , I will not stand by if any improvements turn out to be short-lived. I will continue to hold Stagecoach to account.
Constituents can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01246 386 286 if they are experience problems with bus services.