BUS bosses have been taken to task by an 87-year-old Alnwick woman, after she missed a funeral in Newcastle because the service failed to turn up.
Elizabeth Taylor arrived about 15 minutes early to catch the 505 from Wagonway Road, Alnwick, on Monday morning, but was forced to stand and wait for almost an hour before another would-be passenger contacted Arriva to find out where the bus was. They were told that the driver had been late, so the service had started from Felton instead.
Mrs Taylor said: “I wasn’t going to Newcastle for pleasure, it was for the funeral of a colleague and I’m very annoyed. I arrived at the stop at 7.20am to be in good time for the bus arriving at 7.34am. It’s not easy for me to be ready and out at that time of the morning as it is.
“I stood and waited until 8.10am and there was still no bus. A lady travelling to work in Gateshead was also there, as well as a young lady who told me she was starting a course that morning at the Centre For Life in Newcastle. They made a few phone calls and were told that because the driver was late, the service had started in Felton. It’s not on.
“There were people I had arranged to meet in Newcastle and I missed this very important occasion. The bus company needs its backside kicked.”
Kenneth Jorgensen, who was commuting from Alnwick to work in Newcastle, said: “When you consider the next bus is 90 minutes later, I find it hard to grasp why a bus driver or his depot manager would want him to only go as far up as Felton and miss out all the commuters from the Alnwick area.
“To make it even worse, why could they not phone up the office in Alnwick so drivers there could tell the passengers to take the X65 to Morpeth and wait there for a 518 to Newcastle? Why didn’t they come out and tell the customers?
“I felt sorry for an elderly lady who missed her hospital appointment in Newcastle and most of all the other elderly lady who missed her good friend’s funeral in Newcastle. What a way to say goodbye.”
A spokesman for Arriva said: “We did have a problem with the allocation of a bus, after a first-use inspection of the vehicle revealed there was a crack in the windscreen.
“The problem with this service is that it needs to be a tachographed bus, so we can’t just allocate any other vehicle.
“As soon as the engineers were able to release a tachographed bus, at 7.36am, the leading supervisor decided to start that service from Felton in order for it to be on time for the rest of the journey.
“We sincerely apologise to any customers who were affected by this.”