DIAMOND Bus drivers have been sent back to school as the company tries desperately to improve services.
They’ve embarked on a ‘route learning programme’ after scores of complaints from passengers who been led on ‘mystery tours’ by lost drivers.
The move comes after the firm, part of Rotala, was prohibited from bidding for any further contracts by Worcestershire County Council following a series of complaints, not only in Redditch but in Kidderminster too.
The company has in addition appointed a new operations manager and director to get the service back on track.
They are due to meet the leader of Redditch Borough Council, Councillor Bill Hartnett, who will be demanding improvements in the service for local residents.
“We’ve been getting too many complaints and I’ll be taking these up with the company,” he said.
Meanwhile the Office of the Traffic Commissioner is to undertake reliability studies of the Diamond Buses network after protests from customers.
The action comes even as the complaints continue to roll in:
One passenger caught the No62 on Tuesday at 6.05pm and found herself terrrified at the speed the driver doing: “He was driving far too fast, I felt uncomfortable and frightened and then he took a corner too quickly and went over the kerb, it was scary,” she said.
“When I got off I asked him why he was going so fast and he said he couldn’t concentrate because the bus was too noisy.”
Drivers have previously complained of being asked to work excessive hours – claims denied by the company – however a joint statement issued by Diamond and the Unite union to staff says: “Any requests for staff to work rest-days or overtime will be on a voluntary basis and will be fully compliant with driving legislation, however we would remind you that spare time within shifts is paid (and not overtime), therefore we may request you to cover trips where they fit into the spare portion.
It continues: “Lack of co-operation from staff may lead to further loss of contracted work and/or regulatory action by the Traffic Commisisoner which could potentially lead to a reduction in driver requirements.”
A spokesperson for Diamond Buses confirmed drivers were undergoing a route learning programme and said: “The Traffic Commissioner regularly monitors services of all operators with their registrations, and we are working with Worcestershire County Council to resolve the start of term and new network issues that we have experienced on some ruotes in the area. We feels, as a responsible bus operator, that it would be irresponsible were we to take on additional contracted work whilst we have some short term instability, and Worcestershire County Council are supportive of this view.”