Leeds bus employees ‘face pressure to speed’ to stay on time

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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A bus driver who works for the biggest operator in Leeds has said that some fellow employees feel pressured into speeding to keep journeys arriving on time.

The YEP is this week publishing a series of articles about bus services in the city.

And the First company staffer anonymously told the YEP that some drivers working on routes going through the city centre can be tempted to speed as congestion blights the roads.

He said: “To get us from one end to another, yes, there’s a certain amount of pressure there. I won’t speed, it’s just not worth it. It’s safety and comfort of the passengers at all times. If I’ve got people on and I’m speeding, I put them at risk. Others, I do believe they will feel that pressure.”

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He added: “In the daytime we get an hour to do the journey. At night time we get 38 minutes. These are 10 mile journeys straight through the heart of Leeds. It is difficult.”

He said that if drivers do not speed then they have to be late and that is when buses are put out of service, which leads to complaints.

The employee said that legally each shift can only last five-and-a-half hours.

This means that if they are delayed and cannot reach their destinations within that time frame, they have to call a conductor who will cancel the service.

Although the driver said he empathises with dissatisfied customers, he thinks that only a “handful” of services are affected by delays and it is usually because of daily traffic congestion – a problem which he has continually experienced during his time in the job.

“We don’t go out of our way to run late, it’s not something anyone wants to do,” he said.

“A major problem we have now is the number of taxis and private hire vehicles that use the bus lanes. It can be a major problem between 8pm and midnight on a weekend.”

He also claimed a proportion of new drivers are deciding to quit the job within a year of starting because of unpleasant working hours, including consecutive late and early shifts.

“The reality hits home when they get out on the road and they think, ‘It’s not for me’,” he said.

A spokeswoman for First said: “The safety of our staff and customers is of the utmost importance and the business would never encourage a driver to go against the speed limit.”

TRAFFIC CHAOS TAKING ITS TOLL

Just yesterday, (March 1) there were many incidents on Leeds roads which caused disruption to bus services.

Some of these include:

A multi car pile-up on Stanningley Bypass in Leeds which caused tailbacks.

Part of Foundry Approach in Harehills was closed for around three hours after a crash, affecting First’s 4 and 16 services.

Very slow traffic was reported on the arterial Otley Road in Headingley due to roadworks.

First’s 5 and 91 buses were divertsed due to an accident on Osmondthorpe Lan