Bus routes cancelled as drivers leave for HGV and delivery jobs

Suffolk has missed out on funding to boost local bus services.

Suffolk bus routes have been hit by a driver shortage - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dozens of bus journeys a day have been temporarily suspended across Suffolk as the industry struggles to compete with the haulage industry for drivers.

First Eastern Counties is one bus provider for the county that has been forced to run a reduced number of busses along certain routes as they lack the required staff.

A nationwide shortage of drivers, which has significantly impacted supply lines for food and fuel, led the Government to contact more than one million people who are qualified to drive HGVs to entice them back to the industry.

Some haulage companies are offering wages of over £40,000 and in one case up to £60,000 a year, along with sign-on fees and bonuses.

Subsequently some bus providers were left with no alternative to temporarily suspend journeys because their drivers left quickly to take advantage of the better wages on offer.

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First Eastern Counties said: "Unfortunately we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel a small number of journeys on a very small number of our Ipswich Reds and Ipswich Park & Ride services on a temporary basis while we work hard to recruit and train new drivers.

"Along with many other industries, bus operators across the country are experiencing a severe shortage of staff, leaving us in the unfortunate position that we do not have enough drivers to operate our routes each day."

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Though the bus provider did clarify that they had only lost a handful of drivers and not all of them have left to do other driving jobs.

The journeys that have been suspended took into account a wide range of factors in order to aim to minimise the inconvenience caused.

Chambers, based in Sudbury, similarly apologised as they had "a lot of bus drivers leave" at short notice.

They have been tweeting out regularly alerting passengers to which routes are cancelled "due to a national shortage of drivers".

With regards to recruitment, the company said: "We have also endeavoured to find agency drivers, and the option of borrowing from other companies is very limited as there is a national shortage of lorry and bus drivers – indeed we have lost drivers with appropriate licences to the haulage industry.

"We will make every effort to restore these journeys as soon as possible and once again apologise again for the disruption caused."

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