Arriva backlash: North Kirklees timetable changes will affect lives

A cleaner from Batley says she may have leave her job of 18 years after sweeping changes to bus services in North Kirklees could leave her with no way of getting to work.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 4:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:02 pm
Susan Sheerin is worried about how she will get to work ahead of timetable changes.

Susan Sheerin, who works as a cleaner at BBG Academy in Birstall, rides the 229 route to and from work four times a day, travelling back and forth to clean in the morning and evening.

But with the route due to miss out the 63-year-old’s Bradford Road stop from February 23 after a mass rescheduling of Arriva bus timetables, Susan is concerned she’ll be unable to get to work for her long-standing 5.45am start time.

“I just can’t see how I’m going to be able to do it,” she said, “I’m really stressed about it. I’ve been getting that bus for as long as I can remember and it is really worrying me.

Jessica Smith is concerned about having to take time away from her daughter, with at least an hour likely to be added to her daily commute.

“I’ve spoken to them and I’m still none the wiser. It’s just another example of people from little towns getting left behind. We’re losing everything.”

Susan’s story is one of dozens of major inconveniences expected to plague North Kirklees residents since the changes were confirmed last Monday.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin took to PMQs to explain the situation, expressing the anger of many constituents to Theresa May, commenting that she had been contacted by staff at Mirfield Free Grammar who were concerned at pupils’ ability to get to and from school.

The Prime Minister said: “We recognise the importance buses play in local communities and that’s why we spend £250m each year to keep fares down and maintain an extensive network and that benefits people up and down the country.”

Ms Brabin is waiting to hear back from Arriva bosses after she met with them on Friday.

Bus travel across the UK has nosedived to the tune of 85 million fewer local journeys in the past year. Some 34% of them are taken by the elderly, the disabled and children, and fares have increased by 71% since 2005.

Dwayne Wells, Head of Commercial at Arriva, said: “We are investing heavily in our network across the Dewsbury, Batley and Spen area, with changes being made following extensive consultation with bus users.

"Highlights include quicker journeys, new links and we’ve even doubled the frequency in places.

“We’re confident that these changes will increase bus usage in the area, and we’d urge our customers to visit our website for information on what is changing.”

“We’ll miss out on our children growing up”

Soon-to-be-Altered bus timetables will make it difficult for parents to see their children, according to a mother caught up in the changes.

Jessica Smith, a 40-year-old research technician from Cleckheaton, has taken the X25 from her stop on Bradford Road to work at Leeds University for the last ten years.

Her current commute takes an hour, a journey set to increase by over half an hour after the new Arriva bus timetables are realised on February 23.

Jessica is concerned at the time it will take out of her day, and more pertinently, the time she will have to spend away from her six year old daughter.

“I’m going to miss out on so much of her life,” she said, “half an hour might not seem like much but when you factor in bed times and the logistics of getting her to school and so on, it makes such a huge difference.

“An hour a day adds up pretty quickly over a month or a year. That’s a lot of homelife I’m missing.

“Currently when my husband is working away I’m able to drop her off at a breakfast club but having to leave the house half an hour earlier that’s clearly not going to be possible.

“People scheduled their lives around bus timetables and for them to change them so dramatically seems unfair. It’s just going to cause such a headache for so many people.”

Jessica has written to Arriva in order to express her views, but has yet to receive a response.

“I can’t understand how the routes are not profitable enough,” she said, “the morning bus is always packed and the ones in the evening are at least half-full. It surely shouldn’t just be about money. It should be about providing a network of public transport for communities and keeping communities connected.”