Arriva and First told Leeds bus passengers 'should be compensated' for being late to work due to delays or cancellations

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Bus passengers should be compensated if they have to taxi to work because their service is cancelled or late, a West Yorkshire councillor has suggested.

Conservative Martyn Bolt, who sits on Kirklees Council, said the idea would make the system fairer for passengers, amid the current chaos on the region’s bus network.

Operators however, claim many of the reasons for bus lateness are outside of its control, with roadworks highlighted as one example.

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Speaking at a regional transport committee meeting on Friday, Councillor Bolt said: “If the last bus is cancelled and you have to get a taxi back home, you can claim that money back.

First Bus and Arriva Yorkshire have been told they 'should compensate' passengers for delays in Leeds and West Yorkshire.First Bus and Arriva Yorkshire have been told they 'should compensate' passengers for delays in Leeds and West Yorkshire.
First Bus and Arriva Yorkshire have been told they 'should compensate' passengers for delays in Leeds and West Yorkshire.

“I think if your bus doesn’t turn up and you get a taxi where you’re late for work, that should be reclaimable too.

“We need to see a situation where the passenger is compensated if the bus companies miss.”

But Kim Purcell, from Arriva Yorkshire, said congestion was the main reason why buses were late and highlighted roadworks in Leeds city centre as a current example.

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She told the meeting: “When we’re facing 30 minute-delays on Whitehall Road in Leeds for example, that’s outside of our control.

“In that situation I don’t think that would be fair for us to have to compensate that.

“It’s about access to the roads so the buses can get to where they need to be.”

A nationwide shortage of bus drivers has been blamed for service cuts and timetable changes suffered by passengers across the region.

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Operators said on Friday that driver recruitment was beginning to pick up.

But Ms Purcell said she wanted to dispel the notion that bus companies “aren’t doing anything to address the problems”.

She said: “Between three operators we’ve recruited 550 drivers this year in this region. That’s a huge amount of drivers we’ve gone out and trained and put behind the wheel.

“I want to absolutely assure everyone that we’re doing everything we can, but some issues are outside of our control.”

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Councillors were also told that driver absence is contributing to unreliable services, with the NHS backlog, overtime and Covid cited as reasons.

Ms Purcell said: “We employ males over the age of 50 predominantly and because we’ve an ageing population, some have started to get medical conditions as they get later on in their careers.

“In some cases, the NHS backlog means they can’t get treated.

“We are seeing increased absence as well because drivers are working a lot of overtime (to cover the shortage) and they can choose their days off basically.

“And the other issue is Covid. It’s still out there and it’s still affecting our drivers.”