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Bus companies amend Bridgend routes due to driver shortage

Bridgend, South Wales UK

Bridgend County Borough Council is urging anyone who is planning to make a journey using public transport to check in advance with providers in case services are affected by an ongoing national shortage of qualified drivers.

Public transport companies are reporting that some services are running less frequently due to problems such as drivers moving on to post-lockdown jobs driving heavy goods vehicles, a backlog in processing new applications and delays in delivering training for newly qualified staff.

Among the affected routes are the number 64 and number 65 services between Bridgend and Talbot Green, both of which are currently running every two hours instead of every hour, and the number 63 Bridgend to Porthcawl service, which is running every half-hour instead of every 20 minutes.

While the problem is expected to be a temporary issue which should be resolved in coming weeks, Bridgend County Borough Council has warned that it is making alternative plans in case the national bus driver shortage starts to affect home-to-school transport.

Councillor Stuart Baldwin, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “It would appear that the current national shortage of bus drivers is a result of several factors all related to the pandemic, such as higher-than-normal levels of absence for drivers who are ill or who have to isolate.

“Many drivers have found alternative work operating heavy goods vehicles, and bus companies are also experiencing a high rate of staff who are retiring due to ill health in the wake of Covid-19.

“While private bus companies are making every effort to provide services, the bus driver shortage means they have no choice but to introduce these changes as a temporary measure.

“At the same time, I understand that the private companies are seeking to tackle the problem by undertaking new, focused full and part-time driver recruitment activities, instigating bonus payment incentives, doubling the capacity of training schools, fast-tracking licence applications to the DVLA, and much more.

“Given that the current situation could change at very short notice, I would strongly recommend checking with the bus company before you set off on a journey.

“The council is also working closely with schools and school transport providers to limit the potential impact that the nationwide shortage of drivers may have.

“In any situation where an operator reports that they are unable to run a school transport route, we are seeking to put alternative transport arrangements in place as quickly as possible.

“With measures in place to tackle the national shortage, I hope that private bus companies are able to restore public transport routes to normal again as soon as possible.”