Lack of drivers causes cancellation chaos for Stevenage bus users

Arriva customers have been complaining about the number of cancelled services in Stevenage. Picture

Arriva customers have been complaining about the number of cancelled services in Stevenage. Picture: Amy Thorburn - Credit: Archant

Customers have been describing the bus services in Stevenage as “inept” following a series of recent cancellations due to driver shortages.

Arriva customers have grown increasingly frustrated with the number of services being called off. There have been 68 cancellations in the last six days - which Arriva says is due to a lack of drivers.

Of the 20 routes serving Stevenage, 14 have been impacted by these cancellations. The cancelled services have affected the following routes: 1, 100 and 101 to and from Stevenage, 2, 3, 300, 301, 4, 5, 40, 50 and 8.

Customers have been complaining online about the impact this has had - with people saying they have missed trains and hospital appointments due to the cancelled buses.

One person said: "The bus service in Stevenage is poor at the best of times," describing the timetable as a "work of fiction".

Another complained about the "shocking service" in spite of price increases in April this year.

An Arriva spokesperson said: "We are currently doing all we can to increase the number of quality-trained drivers in Stevenage and are continuing to bring new people into the industry by offering full training and incentives.

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"We will continue to work hard in resolving this issue and hope to see an improvement in driver numbers in the next few weeks."

A spokesperson for Unite - the trade union responsible for many Arriva employees - said that the driver shortages are due to insufficient pay, as well as being so close to London where pay rates are much higher.

They said: "Hopefully this will be a short-term issue, as we are working with Arriva on possible solutions to try to attract new drivers."

David Martin, from Stevenage's Bus Users Group (BUGS), said: "From the drivers' point of view, more recruitment is needed. A few weeks ago, they were 18 drivers short."

A committee from BUGS are due to meet with Arriva's operational manager next week, to try and establish a timescale for restoring normal services.

According to Arriva Hertfordshire & Essex's Twitter, this has been an ongoing issue since May 2018. Last year, the issue similarly peaked during the summer months.