Arriva bus changes in Wakefield: Passengers fear new timetable will leave them worse off

Bus passengers in a Wakefield village fear they will be left further isolated by timetable changes.

Customers living in Kirkhamgate say they're already struggling with a poor bus service, ahead of Arriva making sweeping alterations across the network in Wakefield.

The 112 bus, which runs between Kirkhamgate and the centre of Wakefield, via Alverthorpe, is one of three local services being axed from October 25.

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To partially compensate, some journeys on the 212 service between Dewsbury and Wakefield will be diverted to Kirkhamgate.

Passengers say they fear the service levels, which are already described as poor, are about to get worse.

Arriva says the changes are being made in response to a shortage of drivers, because the firm is struggling to deliver its current timetable with the staff it has.

But passengers say they're worried they will find it even harder to travel out of the village.

Kirkhamgate resident Audrey McCann said: "I need the bus to get to the chemist and pick my prescription up.

The other week it took me an hour and-a-half to get back from Wakefield.

The changes take effect from October 25.

"That happened on two consecutive Fridays."

Mrs McCann said she was also concerned that the cutting of the 104 service between Wakefield and Alverthorpe.

She added: "That leaves Alverthorpe with just our buses. If we've got more people getting on our buses and it's full, we'll have to wait for another half an hour to get on the next one.

"Winter's coming and that will make it worse."

Arriva has blamed the nationwide shortage of drivers for the poor service recently.

Arriva says the 212 will also serve Alverthorpe with extra journeys to partially address the loss of the 104.

Mrs McCann's sister, Brenda Schofield, says she waited two hours for a bus to get home from Dewsbury Hospital last month.

She said: "It was a 25 minute appointment and then I was stranded at Dewsbury trying to get home.

"Somebody advised me to get the hospital shuttle bus to Pinderfields and then I had to get a £7 taxi home.

"It's certainly not cheap."

Conservative councillor for the Wrenthorpe and Outwood West ward, Nic Stansby said many would be affected by the changes.

She said: "I know people who want to use the bus to get to work, or they’ve tried to, but it’s too difficult for them.

"It's a vicious circle because if you want to encourage people to use public transport, you need to make it available for when they want to use it.

"Otherwise they'll use their cars.

"If we're working towards net zero carbon emissions then we need to make buses a priority."

Speaking last month about the impending cuts in Wakefield, Arriva said: "The changes are to safeguard jobs by allowing us time to recruit and train new drivers.

"These changes are not commercial decisions, they have been driven by a lack of available drivers as a result of the national shortage.

"These decisions were made quickly because we needed to react urgently, as we acknowledge that delivering an unpredictable level of service is not good enough for our customers.

"We would prefer to deliver a reduced frequency that will turn up rather than make promises we can’t deliver."

Last week, the operator's head of commercial in Yorkshire said Arriva was conducting an intensive recruitment campaign to get drivers into the industry.

Although there is understood to be no shortage of people wanting to become bus drivers, a backlog in processing licences at the DVLA has led to serious delays.

Local Democracy Reporting Service