Corby bus driver says he's 'never seen it so bad' as staff shortages cut deep
Cancellations across the Stagecoach bus network have caused problems for customers
A Corby bus driver for Stagecoach Midlands has voiced his concerns about the state of the services linking communities across the north Northants area.
Passengers have faced delays and cancellations across the network after being hit by what Stagecoach described as 'minor' issues in Northamptonshire, caused by Brexit and DVLA delays - and have said they are working hard to recruit new drivers.
A driver who has worked in Corby for nearly two decades says that the driver shortages were to be filled by agency staff at higher rates of pay than those already employed.
The driver, who did not want to be named, said: "It's not going to get any better. I've never seen it as bad as this. I've had my first day off in two-and-a-half weeks.
"I drive for five-and-a-half hours, then get a break and then do another five-and-a-half hours.
"In Corby there used to be 40 drivers, now there's 13. In Kettering there's meant to be about 80 but there's 50.
"They are paying the drivers £11.50 per hour and the agency drivers £16 per hour. We have asked the management for a pay rise but they won't.
"We have asked the management to come out and explain to the passengers what's going on. They will not face the drivers.
"We want to get back to the way it was. It used to be a great job. The customers were great.
"Three more drivers left on Friday, they have just had enough. I have never seen it so bad."
Last week a Corby man who has to rely on buses to travel to medical appointments has expressed his concerns about the number of services that have been cancelled in the town.A spokesman for 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.”