Bus operator issues apology after disruption to services in Sudbury leaves passengers high and dry
A town councillor has sought assurances over the performance of a bus operator, following severe disruptions with services in Sudbury.
Parents have voiced concerns over several Chambers services, prompting calls from Sudbury town councillor Steve Hall for the matter to be resolved.
“It is with concern that, in recent months, I’ve heard from concerned parents that Chambers appears, upon first glance, to be disregarding its duty to passengers, especially our young people,” he said.
“Buses are either not turning up, or are driving past stops, leaving youngsters at the roadside. In some instances, passengers have been left on buses where a driver hasn’t stopped, causing great distress to that child and to the parents concerned.”
Cllr Hall has called for the bus operator’s services to be reviewed by Suffolk County Council, while highlighting that Chambers has a responsibility to provide sufficient staffing levels in order to meet demand.
“In recent days, I’ve heard of more cancellations due to staff sickness,” he said. “Surely, in the event of this happening, adequate resources should be made available in the form of additional standby drivers or other operators that can be called upon to cover?
“The bus company should be able to provide adequate services to honour its licence and duty of service to its customers and I call on Suffolk County Council as the licence provider to urgently investigate and review the current problems at hand.”
Karen Connell, of Sheepshead Hill, in Great Cornard, who relies on the 753 and 754 services, claims nine buses have failed to arrive on time in the last fortnight.
“I have missed a hospital appointment twice and I know for certain that at least three people have been late for work because buses haven’t turned up,” said the 54-year-old, who struggles to stand for prolonged periods of time due to rheumatoid arthritis.
After a bus failed to turn up, Karen was forced to return home due to mounting pain in her joints.
“I had to phone a friend to help me back up the hill because I couldn’t walk,” she said.
Responding to the complaints, Jeremy Cooper, managing director at Chambers, said: “We deeply regret the inconvenience to our customers caused by recent exceptional staff sickness, which has resulted in the cancellation of a number of crucial journeys in recent days.
“We have now arranged to borrow staff and have a number of new members of staff starting work with us.
“As a parent of secondary school children myself, I am fully aware of the problems caused by unreliable school buses.
“Our Sudbury depot has been short of staff for several years, making it more difficult to deal with problems of sickness, and we have an ongoing recruitment and training programme, which has included the introduction last year of a bus drivers’ school to train new recruits to get a PCV licence.
“We are committed to providing the service standards our customers expect, and would love to hear from more people who would like to come and work at our friendly depot and drive our country bus routes.”