Buses have been cancelled in Northampton, Kettering and Corby after a national shortage of drivers hit our area.
During the past week, a number of routes have been affected across the county including the number six and 96 in Northampton, numbers one and three in Corby, routes 18 and 19 in Kettering and the number two between Corby and Kettering. Nearby Leamington and Rugby have also been badly hit by cancellations.
Stagecoach have stressed to our reporters that the impact in Northants has been 'minor' and that 99 per cent of their buses are running, but in other areas across the country including Wales, the South West, Derbyshire and Yorkshire, more widespread pressures in staff as well as reported low pay rates have led drivers to strike.
The transport industry as a whole has been badly hit by a lack of drivers due to the effects of Brexit and other issues that mean many companies are struggling to recruit. Letters have been sent out to former HGV drivers by the government urging them to rejoin the industry.
A statement from Stagecoach Midlands said: "Our teams are working incredibly hard to ensure we continue to run the vast majority of our timetabled services and we remain focused on prioritising the services we know are most important for our customers.
“As is the case with many organisations and sectors in the economy, the pandemic is continuing to impact our business. Issues such as Brexit and the DVLA taking longer to process bus driver licences has added to these challenges beyond our control.
“We are working round the clock to recruit people into our team and train them in the roles that we need, and we are seeing a strong demand for jobs. However, it takes an average of 10 weeks for a professional bus driver to be fully trained and any delays outside our control in the processing of licences means we cannot get them on the road on our network as fast as we would like.
“We apologise to our customers who have been affected by any short term service changes, and we would like to thank them for their patience with our frontline teams whilst we work to get our new drivers on the road.
“Where we do have to make changes to our bus services, we are providing live updates to our customers through our social media channels.”