National Express apologises for bus delays after passengers left stranded

Bus users have hit out at "disgraceful" delays to services which have left people across the region stranded at bus stops for hours on end.

National Express has apologised to passengers
National Express has apologised to passengers

National Express has apologised to passengers after admitting driver shortages had contributed to services being delayed and in some cases cancelled altogether.

Passengers waiting at stops at Wolverhampton bus station have demanded urgent action to improve unreliable services.

One man, who did not want to be named, said: "It's becoming disgraceful as I'm waiting more and more for buses and I don't know if they're coming or not.

"I don't drive, so I need to take buses and it's becoming really bad at times when I'm waiting in the rain and the service doesn't turn when it's supposed to or, at times, at all.

"Something needs to be done as people like me are going to be stuck otherwise."

Diane Donaldson, 59, from Pelsall, said: "I've found services are getting less and less where I live, with the buses that do come having to make more stops due to compensating for other buses.

"This means they are not as reliable in terms of time and I'm having to wait longer to get a bus to where I need to go.

"It's going to get worse as the weather turns colder as I think the icy roads and poor weather will cause more delays."

Bus services have become less reliable recently

A passenger from Pennfields, who did not want to be named, said the 2 and 3 services, which he used to get to and from work, had been "terrible", with services either being "cancelled or dropped without warning".

He added: "I think people need to be held accountable for it as if I take a train and it gets delayed or cancelled, I get some kind of recompense for it, whereas nobody is saying anything about the delays on the buses.

"It's happening more on the evening services, with more getting cancelled or severely delayed and I'm finding it frustrating as it's affecting me and how I can get about."

A bus user from All Saints said it had become common for buses to be up to 40 minutes late, while Greg Heath, from Dudley, said getting the 1 service was down to "pot luck".

"Sometimes it might be half an hour late, sometimes it won't be there at all," he said. "The actual times the buses arrive bears no resemblance to the timetable anymore, that's for sure."

National Express has apologised to passengers and announced changes to some timetables from Sunday.

A spokesperson said: "We are really sorry that some of our customers have been experiencing delays to their bus journeys lately.

"Various issues have been affecting the punctuality and reliability of our services recently - including continuing sickness and self-isolation due to the pandemic, as well as the UK-wide difficulties in recruiting drivers and many large-scale sets of roadworks causing congestion and delaying buses.

"From October 3 we're temporarily tweaking the timetables of some Birmingham and Black Country services to improve their reliability."

The Birmingham-based firm said it was "flat out" recruiting drivers.

Greig Mackay, a director at the Bus Users campaign group, said the issues in the West Midlands were happening all over the UK.

He said the main factor impacting the shortage of drivers was delays with licences being issued by the DVLA.

“Bus drivers had also been “lost” to other driving jobs with delivery firms such as Yodel and DPD, he added.

“Bus companies have been left with an uphill battle to try and fill the gaps,” he said. “Until the issues with the DVLA are dealt with these companies are going to be on the back foot.”

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, has called for bus drivers to be added to the ‘shortage occupation’ list in a bid to address the problem.

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