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Exeter gets free pre-Christmas services as penalty for unreliability

Peter Stonham
29 November 2022
 

Stagecoach Devon has been ordered to provide free services in Exeter on two weekends in December by Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney after the operator was called to Public Inquiry for poor reliability, with an investigation by DVSA finding some 21% of its services did not run to timetable. 

Rooney stressed in his written decision that operators lacking enough drivers to operate all journeys should reduce registered provision to a level that they can run reliably.

The value of the free services in Exeter is put at £120,000. In addition, Stagecoach Devon has made a statement of intent that it will provide a member of staff during peak times at Exeter bus station to maintain displays and provide advice to passengers, at an estimated cost of £70,000 per year. 

The Commissioner found that the operator had not been quick enough to act on its shortage of drivers, although he accepted there is an industry-wide shortage He also criticised the information provided to passengers, and questioned the reliability of the Bus Open Data Service in his decision.

Stagecoach Devon said it had already removed commercial mileage as a result of driver shortages ands raised rates of pay, although Rooney noted that 69 drivers had been allocated to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham for three weeks in the summer. 

The order of free services was made following an outline proposal to do from Stagecoach Devon .The Commissioner says he does not favour straight financial penalties for poor reliability, as they do “nothing to help those directly affected.”

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