Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has raised the disruption to bus services in the city in a Parliamentary speech.
She called for a statement on the Government’s plan to solve the bus driver shortage that is affecting local bus services.
In addition to this, she has written to the West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Dan Norris, requesting a meeting where she will present the results of a recent survey put to residents in Bath and to discuss a plan looking ahead. The bus services now sit under the control of the West of England Combined Authority, run by Mayor Dan Norris, and central Government.
Responding to the survey, residents complained that buses haven’t turned up, making them late for school and work. Shockingly, 74% of those who responded to the survey said they had a negative experience of buses in Bath. 41.7% said they had a ‘very negative’ experience and 32.3% said they had a slightly negative experience. 82.6% also said that they have experienced disruptions recently. Respondents cited lateness, reduced service and poor communication as the key issues.
In a letter to Dan Norris, Mrs Hobhouse spoke of the importance of listening to the concerns of Bath residents and to come up with a plan, working collegiately with the Government and local Council. It’s thought that the disruptions are being driven by bus drivers becoming HGV drivers to fill the shortage, which worsened after the Government sent a letter to bus and ambulance drivers encouraging them to change careers.
The request comes ahead of the Bus Service Improvement Plan which is being prepared by Weca at the moment.
Commenting on the letter, Wera spoke of the need for a long-term plan to tackle the shortage:
“Buses are really important to people in Bath and it’s important that the issue is tackled. It’s important that the Government at all levels is aware of this issue and I look forward to Dan Norris’ response.
“Reading through the responses to my survey it’s clear that the disruption to services is having a huge impact on the daily lives of Bath residents. It’s leaving many with no other option than to drive. It’s also important that our bus drivers are taken into consideration. They are being overworked and put under a huge amount of pressure.
“We need a long-term plan to tackle the shortage and some direction from both the central Government and the Weca mayor. Relaxed immigraiton rules must be considered as well as facilitating a recruitment drive for bus drivers to fill the hole left by a failure to look at the bigger picture from this Government.”