Teenager with learning disabilities left waiting in extreme heat in Banbury for four hours for a bus that had been cancelled

A teenager with Down’s Syndrome, a Ukrainian couple new to the country and an 80-year-old man were left standing in the heat without explanation when their buses did not turn up.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 1:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 1:37 pm
Stagecoach says it is suffering from ongoing staffing problems necessitating cancellation of some buses
Stagecoach says it is suffering from ongoing staffing problems necessitating cancellation of some buses

Ian West, of Middleton Cheney, aged 80, said he decided to tackle the walk back to his village from Banbury on Sunday but he felt deeply for those left behind to wait up to four hours.

He said: “On Sunday my 12:10 Number 500 bus did not turn up and I chose to walk the 3.5 miles home rather than wait an hour. But others were not so lucky.

"I felt embarrassed on behalf of Stagecoach, and Britain generally, by a young Ukrainian mother and her young son having to wait an hour. Worse still, a young Down’s Syndrome girl, possibly around 16, was standing in the strong sunshine by the door of the abandoned 488 Chipping Norton bus.

"A conscientious woman employee was trying to explain that there would not be a bus for four hours and asked if the girl wouldn’t be better sitting on the benches in the shade. The girl refused.

"I told the employee that I thought Stagecoach should pay for a taxi, which of course did nothing to help; she had tried several times phoning her boss, but got no answer."

Mr West said the same thing had happened the previous week when a female employee passing by had told waiting passengers that only one of three expected drivers had turned up. The others were off sick. He walked home on that occasion too.“It is a dilemma for Stagecoach. Overtime and higher wages would presumably cure the ‘Sunday sickness’ problem. But not enough people use the buses. I would have it, by law using subsidies, that any single bus fare must be cheaper than the same trip by car.

"But then, I am not Prime Minister. However, in the meantime, I do not think Stagecoach can break contract and leave a vulnerable person standing in strong sunlight for four hours. Missing my own bus is inconvenient, but the case I am going to war about is the four hour wait for a vulnerable person going to Chipping Norton.” he said.

Martin Gibbon, Operations Director, Stagecoach West, said: “As with many industries across the country, we are continuing to face some staffing issues. This, coupled with sickness absence, had a temporary impact on our service in Banbury.

“To ensure some service was retained we reduced the frequency of our buses on this route from hourly to two hourly which, unfortunately, meant two trips were lost on the 488 resulting in a four-hour break in service. The decision was made in order to minimise disruption to customers across our entire network in the Banbury area.

“We appreciate that cancellations are incredibly frustrating and we would like to apologise to any customers affected by this temporary service change and thank them for their patience and understanding.

”There are a variety of ways for customers to find out the latest service updates, including on our social media and the Stagecoach Bus App, which we update as quickly as possible. Our customer services team is also available by phone should passengers prefer an offline form of communication”