Bus drivers shortage, missed stops and idling engines among Stagecoach service concerns in Exeter

Buses failing to stop, a shortage of drivers and idling engines were among the concerns councillors raised over the services provided by Stagecoach around Exeter.

The firm’s operational director in the South West, Paul clark, was quizzed by city traffic chiefs last week.

We were at one stage 12 drivers short…and I even had to drive on one Saturday myself – Stagecoach South West operational director Paul Clark

Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee members highlighted a number of issues which included:

  • Buses are missing the stop in Sidmouth Road, near the Digby Arch;
  • The park-and-ride green route is now stopping at all the stops;
  • Drivers are leaving their engines idling when vehicles are stopped;
  • Buses are not allowed to leave destinations early;
  • Serious staff shortages were resulting in cancellations of services;
  • NHS staff being required to show three forms of ID to get to the bus to the hospital;
  • Bus stops around Bovemoors Lane being in the wrong place.

In response, Mr Clark explained that issues with staff that have caused them problems.

He said that there was even one Saturday where he had to drive a bus himself to keep the service running.

Councillor Rob Hannaford said he had been told that Stagecoach was around 25 to 30 drivers short.

He asked whether this was due to drivers retiring, sickness, or Brexit, and what Stagecoach was doing to tackle it.

Mr Clark said: “It is a very challenging job market at the moment. We were at one stage 12 drivers short, but that was mainly down to staff sickness, and I even had to drive on one Saturday myself.

“We are now only three drivers short, but we are getting back on an even keel now.”

In response to the other questions, Mr Clark said that drivers would be re-educated to ensure that they do not miss the stop on Sidmouth Road.

He added that, if a driver leaves a stop early, then it technically means that the service is not punctual in arriving on time.

Mr Clark said discussions would be held around the location of bus stops in Bovemoors Lane and that NHS staff should only need to show a single pass to a bus driver.

He added that drivers would be reminded about engine idling and said that all vehicles were tracked and monitored and instances should be reported to Stagecoach.

Mr Clark said the park-and-ride green route now stops at all stops to increase patronage, as it had been a loss-making service.

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