Bus operator Arriva apologises after services in Stevenage deteriorate to as little as one bus an hour

Queues for the Arriva SB7, SB2 and SB3 route buses at Stevenage bus station about 4.30pm on Monday.

Queues for the Arriva SB7, SB2 and SB3 route buses at Stevenage bus station about 4.30pm on Monday. Photo: Dave Lowe - Credit: Archant

Bus operator Arriva has apologised following ‘reliability issues’ that have seen Stevenage passengers waiting up to an hour, and pledged to get things back to normal by next week.

There has been misery for passengers on most routes around the town, with long waits and packed buses when they do arrive.

Arriva has attributed the problems to an unusual number of faults in a short space of time, adding that vehicles and engineers have been drafted in from elsewhere to help get things back on track.

Passenger Dave Lowe told the Comet: “Over the past few weeks services have deteriorated to what can only be described as an unacceptable level.

“Buses that are supposed to run every 10 minutes at peak time are now running down to – the worst I’ve heard of – one bus an hour!

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“I personally have waited for an SB3 from St Nicholas to town for 40 minutes – on four occasions in the last two weeks, in the afternoon period.

“Many buses just don’t turn up. When asked, the drivers have basically shrugged and said they don’t have any buses.

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“This degradation of services applies to – it seems – the whole Arriva network, not just my route.

“Obviously there is very poor planning of the service they are indeed providing as I’ve seen – while waiting for my bus – several going in the opposite direction on the SB2 route.

“One afternoon there were no buses in either direction for 40 minutes that I could see.

“If they are only able to run perhaps a Sunday service on a weekday, then they should say so. Having said that, they have been missing services on a Sunday as well.

“Obviously for people trying to make connections, attend appointments or just get chilled or frozen shopping home, this service is just not fit for purpose.”

Another passenger, who uses the SB4 and SB5 routes through Broadwater and Shephall, said drivers had told her there were as many as 19 buses out of action.

She said: “They told me they’ve been told to only put out every third bus.

“About 15 people stand waiting for a bus and nothing comes. If it was just a day or two then fair enough, but this is the third week now.

“People are trying to get to work and it’s just horrendous – they’re so full you can’t get on sometimes.

“The drivers are getting it in the neck from some people, but of course this isn’t their fault.”

An Arriva spokesman said: “In recent weeks we have had an unusually high level of reliability issues with buses serving routes in Stevenage.

“Our buses cover very high mileages every week and while our routine maintenance programmes are thorough and carried out as planned, unfortunately mechanical issues are unavoidable.

“It is regrettable that a number of faults have occurred on several vehicles in a short space of time, and we apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused.

“We have supplemented the Stevenage fleet with buses from elsewhere in the Arriva region to cover those that have had to be taken out of service and have also drafted in additional engineers from other depots to ensure we have vehicles back on the road as quickly as possible.

“The situation is improving, and we expect service levels in the Stevenage area to return to normal by the beginning of next week.”

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