Staff shortages cause changes to local bus services

FEWER buses are running on services in the Woking area that were taken over by Stagecoach last month, due to the national driver shortage and staff being off sick with COVID-19.

Saturday timetables have been implemented throughout the week on routes 91, 34 and 35 “for the foreseeable future” as the company seeks to recruit more drivers.

A national driver shortage has led to operator Stagecoach implementing Saturdy timetables o someroutes for the foreseeable future

The routes, along with several others in West Surrey, were taken over by Stagecoach on 18 December, when they were abandoned by Arriva as unsustainable because of a fall in passenger numbers.

Route 91, one of the most popular services in the borough and used by commuters and shoppers, runs from Woking Station through Goldsworth Park and Knaphill to the Sainsbury’s superstore at Brookwood.

It now has three buses an hour instead of four from 8.55am to 5.15pm and departures every 15 minutes instead of 12 during the evening rush hour.

From 5.55pm, the buses depart less frequently at mostly 30-minute intervals. There is no change in the last buses, which leave Woking at 11.25pm and Sainsbury’s at 10.57pm

Routes 34 and 35 – from Guildford to Camberley Station, through Westfield, Kingfield Green, Mayford, Woking town centre, St John’s, Knaphill, Bisley and West End – are less affected and still running every 20 or 30 minutes until they go hourly in mid-evening.

Stagecoach also now operates Route 47, from Gordon’s School at West End to Brookwood Station, which is weekdays only and run for commuters and schoolchildren. Its early morning services from West End have been reduced from three to two but there are still four in the evening from the station.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach South said: “Through the company adopting a revised timetable, customers will be able to plan around the level of service we feel we can confidently deliver.

“As with many industries across the country, we are continuing to face a short-term staffing situation that is out of our control due to external factors affecting the wider transport and logistics sector.

“This is having an impact on a small number of our bus services in the Guildford and Woking areas, and we’ve had to make some short-term timetable changes to improve the reliability of key services and keep passengers connected across our most popular routes.

“We will continue to keep our passengers regularly updated on our website and social media channels, giving advanced notice of any planned alterations to our services.”

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