STAGECOACH buses between Chippenham and Swindon have been slammed as unreliable.

Royal Wootton Bassett Town councillor Andrew Matthew said the 55 service is cancelled regularly and without much warning from the bus company.

He claims that although whenever a service is cancelled it is posted on the firm's Twitter feed, not everyone uses the app.

“It’s causing people massive dramas and issues of getting to work reliably on-time,” he said. “Some people have said we’re lucky because the service is every 20 minutes, but it’s not if you keep cancelling it.

“We are lucky when it runs – the problem is you can’t rely on it running every 20 minutes. It’s not been an acceptable level of service, really. A lot of residents are really unhappy with it.”

Operational problems, is one of the reasons given for the patchy service, along with roadworks and the impact of Brexit on the labour market.

The incentives to return to the haulage industry, according to Cllr Matthews have meant that bus drivers have left their posts to become HGV drivers.

He said it was frustrating that, in the midst of a climate emergency, it was difficult to encourage public transport options if they are unreliable.

"How are you supposed to get the 10.10am bus if it just doesn’t turn up?” he said.

Stagecoach West managing director Rachel Geliamass apologised and said: “We are currently running 96 per cent of our usual service levels in Wiltshire but appreciate how frustrating cancellations are. “We are experiencing a number of well documented challenges as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to see the effects of Brexit on the employment market.

"We currently have more drivers in our recruitment system than we have a shortage of. However, a mounting backlog in vocational licences being processed by the DVLA is delaying these drivers from getting on the road.  “Whilst it is likely that these challenges will continue for some time, we are working hard to alleviate the pressures on our network and are prioritising school and commuter services.

"Regrettably, we are still having to make some tough decisions over service cancellations due to short notice sickness, for which we can only apologise.  “Our customers can keep up to date with service changes by checking Twitter, using the Stagecoach Bus App, visiting one of our Travel Shops, or contacting us by phone.

She added: “We would like to thank customers for their patience with our frontline teams whilst we work to resolve these problems and get new drivers on the road.”