Thursday, 15 December 2022

Traffic Commissioner Orders Stagecoach to Deliver £120,000 of Free Travel

Following a public enquiry Stagecoach have been ordered by the Traffic Commissioner to deliver £120,000 of free travel after the inquiry heard that 21% of services had not run to timetable.

Bus passengers will travel for free in and around Exeter as operator Stagecoach makes amends for its "level of service".

The operator said customers will not need a ticket on 10, 11, 17 and 18 December in the "Exeter Plus Zone".

Stagecoach expressed "deep regret" and vowed to focus on reliability.

The area covered by the offer includes Exeter, Ottery St Mary, Cullompton, Bickleigh, Crediton, Okehampton, Whitestone, Longdown, Kennford, Teignmouth, Exton, Woodbury, Woodbury Salterton, Nine Oaks Cross, and Exmouth, excluding Sandy Bay.

You can find more details here.

Mike Watson, Stagecoach South West managing director, said: "We deeply regret the level of service experienced by some of our passengers in recent months."

He said they would prioritise building on the "extensive steps" they had taken to drive up reliability of services and would work with local partners to ensure improvements were "sustained".

The public inquiry took place over two days in June and October.

 Stagecoach accepted that 21% of services were not running to timetable and blamed a lack of drivers despite efforts to recruit and retain.

Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney said this was not a case of buses running more than one minute early or five minutes late within a "window of tolerance" - but one of buses not running at all.

He found that the operator had not been quick enough to act and was also critical of the information available to passengers.

He set the shortcomings against the significant lack of drivers across the bus and coach sectors since the pandemic and EU exit, and action to recruit and retain drivers.

In making the order for free services, estimated to cost around £120,000, Mr Rooney also recorded the company's intent to keep a member of staff available at peak hours at Exeter Bus Station.

The decision can be found here.

A spokesman said many Christmas shoppers were choosing to travel into Exeter by car and they hoped the offer would encourage people to "give the bus a try again", while easing congestion.