Bus users in Hitchin have complained of a "ghost service" that never arrives, with Arriva blaming staff shortages and vehicle availability.

The 101 service was scheduled for 7.38am under the previous timetable, departing from Luton Station Interchange and concluding at Stevenage Bus Station at 8.52am, with stops throughout Hitchin.

Passengers in Hitchin, waiting at a number of stops including Bedford Road, Hermitage Road, St Mary's Square and Queen Street, reported that the bus "would never turn up".

When the timetable changed on September 3 to "improve punctuality" according to the Arriva website, the service, now scheduled to leave Luton at 8.40am, still did not arrive.

"The online timetable and the timetable at bus stops show this service, but it never turns up," one user said.

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"It really is a ghost service, which is incredibly frustrating when you're trying to get to work on time.

"I was hopeful that the new timetable would improve the situation but it remains the same, and something needs to be done about it."

When asked about the "ghost service", a spokeswoman for Arriva South said: "We are truly sorry for the issues which have affected this service.

"There was a reduction in staff running the service, which affected its reliability and our engineering department had problems with available buses.

"This was something we could not have foreseen, and in this instance our supervisory team were not able to improve the situation as quickly as they would have liked.

"However, we have made some improvements  - including an increase in staff - and we are now providing the service that is expected from our customers and we’re aiming for a much better service moving forward."