Islanders are left in lurch by cancellation of essential buses

WHILE I understand the stresses the bus company is facing regarding a shortage of drivers, the decisions about which services to cancel are questionable.

My partner works in the hospitality industry, another industry suffering staff shortages. She works shifts, different ones, frequently changing shift mid-week to meet the requirement of the business she works for.

One night the bus timetable left her stranded at the Town Terminus, with no buses after 8.35, despite the published timetable showing the last bus at 21.20. She arrived at the terminus a few minutes before 9pm for the 41/42 service only to discover all buses had been cancelled, for what seems like the summer. As a consequence, she had to spend approximately 25% of her shift gross income to get a taxi up to the Forest. She wasn’t the only one stranded, a nurse wanting to get to the Princess Elizabeth Hospital was also stranded.

The decision to stop the services for a whole hour before the last published service is in ignorance of others’ needs. I accept the last buses may not be very busy, but those using them are often low income earners doing an essential job.

I am fully aware of the difficulty in getting drivers but the decision makers are not being considerate enough of the island’s needs. I would ask you to reconsider the decision to not at least provide a skeleton service up to the last published hour. Alternatively, prioritise resolving the problem of more drivers.

Please can we have creative thinking.

NICK CLENCH

Editor’s note: A spokesperson for CT Plus replies:

We fully understand the frustration caused by the current reduction in services. We share that frustration, as our aim is to run our full timetable and provide a full service. The current service reductions are caused by a shortage of qualified bus drivers both in Guernsey and across the wider British Isles.

We are working hard to provide the fullest service we can. The current reduction in service has been in place since 6 May. By providing a consistent set of reductions, we hope that this makes it easier for people to plan their journeys.

The only sustainable solution is to reduce the driver shortage. This is our utmost priority. We have already taken a wide range of measures – including getting Guernsey’s law changed so that the age for holding a bus driving licence is reduced to match that in the UK. We’ve also significantly increased the hourly wage to £15 (and up to £18 for evening and Sunday work), which means a Guernsey bus driver could be earning in excess of £35,000 per year.

We’ve put in place an earn-while-you-learn scheme so that Guernsey residents can make the switch to bus driving – and communicated this in an island-wide door drop so people are aware of the opportunity.

Pre-pandemic, we proved that with the right bus service and bus network, passenger numbers could be increased on the island to new record highs. The current reduction in services is therefore not something anyone wants. We will leave no stone unturned to get our staff levels – and the bus service – back to normal.

In the meantime, we apologise for the inconvenience and disruption of the reduced schedule.

We would urge people to check our website and Facebook page for the latest information. Alternatively check with us in the bus information shop at the Town Terminus, where they have paper copies of the cancelled services, or call us on 700456.

And please, if you know anyone who wants to train to drive a bus with us, please encourage them to get in touch.

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