Bus operator cancels more than 100 services a day – but won’t tell passengers what will be running tomorrow

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Passengers in Greater Manchester are still losing more than 100 bus services a day as an operator continues to cut services amid a staffing crisis. Rosso, which runs routes mainly in the north of the conurbation, had already cut nearly 200 journeys by 4pm on Wednesday – and the evening was expected to bring more cancellations.

the Manchester Evening News reported on Tuesday how Rosso had cut more than 800 journeys last week. The operator, a subsidiary of Transdev Blazefield, said they expected the issue to have ‘severely diminished’ by next week. But bosses were yet to overcome their recruitment challenges at the mid-point of this week.

Many of the services scrapped are those subsidized by the taxpayer, meaning they make less of a profit but are seen as vital community routes. By Wednesday afternoon, there had been 193 cancellations in total, while throughout Tuesday there were 133. The MEN Rosso has repeatedly asked for guidance on which services are likely to be canceled in the days ahead to give passengers a heads-up – but they are yet to respond on this.

READ MORE: Greater Manchester bus operator cancels more than 800 services in just one week as they battle staff shortages

Among a raft of cancellations on Wednesday evening, nine services of the Trax 468 between Rochdale and Bury were due to be dropped; 14 journeys on the Tottington Line 469 were facing the cut, and eight scheduled trips on the B2 Bury to Mount Pleasant route had also been scrapped.

It comes as Major Andy Burnham and other Greater Manchester leaders prepare to take control of the buses following a legal ruling in March. It paves the way for sweeping changes to how services are run in Greater Manchester, with decisions over timetables and fares in the hands of transport bosses rather than operators.

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Meanwhile, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is looking to sub-contract affected Rosso services to other operators, while prioritizing keeping school buses running. On Tuesday, Stephen Rhodes, customer director and interim head of bus services at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), described Rosso’s ‘significant operational difficulties’, adding: “This has included many subsidized services, which run in areas and at times where there is a lack of alternatives, meaning the impact is being most keenly felt on those most reliant on them.

“We are working with the operator to prioritize these routes as well as school bus services to minimize the impact on the local community as best as possible. The situation is changing on a daily basis, and I’d encourage passengers to check with the operator to ensure they have the latest information before travelling.”

On Wednesday, the M.EN asked Rosso which services were likely to be axed this week but they did not provide a response. On Tuesday, a spokesman said they had operated ‘at least 80 per cent’ of their journeys last week, adding: “Which we apologize to our customers for – this falls far from our usual standards. It indicates the strength of the challenge our industry faces in terms of recruitment.

“All public transport operators are impacted by this right across the UK, but the difference here is that whilst most operators have reduced timetables in the past few months, we made attempts to increase; this is why the problem is more pronounced. The issues are in spite of our best efforts, including an increase to drivers’ wages by 20pc in the last 18 months.

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“We expect the problem will have severely diminished by next week with a target back to 100pc coverage and are working alongside our sister companies, TfGM and other operators to overcome this very short-term issue over the space of a 10 day period. We are updating customers in real time with live departure tracking and disruptions published on the Transdev Go app and at rossobus.co.uk .”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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