First apologises over my nightmare bus journey as company addresses driver shortages

Apparently a recruitment drive ‘is beginning to bear fruit’
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Last week, Bristol - and why I can’t blame people who drive">I wrote about a gruelling afternoon in which it took me hours to reach an event in Brislington from the top of Whiteladies Road due to cancellations, delays and early terminations on the Service 1.

The story attracted a lot of attention from fed-up bus users not just in Bristol, but those suffering a similar plight elsewhere in the UK such as in London and Cardiff.

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One person suggested I ‘just buy a bike’, and rightly so, this is the cycling city after all - but the thing is, I’m a wimp.

And my situation is yet to improve - yesterday evening (July 26) I waited around 40 minutes for a Service 1, 2, 3 or 4 to show up at Union Street.

I was fine albeit peckish standing there outside KFC, but spotted a few pensioners who definitely weren’t fine, and frustratingly there were about five buses lined up and raring to go but with drivers nowhere to be seen.

First West of England has apologised for my bus ride from hell and confirmed what we all knew already - that the ongoing issues are down to driver shortages.

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A spokesperson added: “We are doing everything we can to maintain a reliable network of services that supports our customers and our communities.

“We continue to plan our networks on an ongoing basis using the latest real-time data and technology available, balancing customer demand and resource to deliver reliable services.”

One comment on my piece was from a former driver, who wrote that he had left the industry after abuse from passengers (similar to what happened to the driver in my story) had become unbearable.

Robert Brueford added: “Bus drivers in Bristol are not paid badly, that’s not the issue, it’s the conditions they are expected to work.”

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But First arged that the firm continued ‘to offer an attractive and competitive employee proposition, both for our existing dedicated team and for new drivers undergoing training’.

Irked passengers wait for another 1 bus after the service terminated early at the Horsefair.Irked passengers wait for another 1 bus after the service terminated early at the Horsefair.
Irked passengers wait for another 1 bus after the service terminated early at the Horsefair.

People are keen to become bus drivers and serve their local communities, and we are working to make that process as easy as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“The good news is that our proactive driver recruitment campaign is bearing fruit–we have a really healthy pipeline of great recruits wanting to start work, some of whom are already at our training school.”

Let’s hope things are on the up.

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