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Stagecoach, the bus service operator for the Lancaster and Morecambe area, has had to bring in extra vehicles and drivers from other depots to deal with problems caused by the road works in Lancaster city centre.
It seems that even this has had little impact on the traffic in and surrounding the city centre. Stephie Barber, the operations manager of Stagecoach for Lancaster and Morecambe, has been dealing with the situation.
The worst of the problems seemed to occur on Friday Week Three. “We must have 80 plus buses stuck in the traffic gridlock across the City Centre all unable to move,” Barber said. She added that some services managed to move as little as 100 yards over a two-hour period due to the volume of traffic in the city centre.
“We even tried to get buses down to campus via the M6 and Galgate but everywhere was at a complete stop,” she said, speaking of the situation that left an enormous amount of students waiting on campus for over two hours for a bus into town.
“Many of our customers have been encountering delays which they should not have,” she added. “We have expressed our thoughts on the matter to the Chief Executive of the City Council, as well as to the County Council.”
Becky Green, a Grizedale 3rd year who is studying Psychology, lives in town and has been directly affected by the lengthy road works and the temperamental bus schedule.
“I haven’t missed anything, but I’ve had to wake up earlier and it’s fairly lucky that I lived in town last year as well as I’m pretty organised when it comes to buses. It makes it much harder to organise when you can’t rely on the bus timetables.”
However she thinks there have been both positive additions to this year’s bus service, with the increase of staff. “It’s been really good seeing that they’ve got more conductors on the buses. I’ve been regularly riding the buses for two years and I’ve never seen as many as I have this year.”
She added: “They’ve sometimes missed out stops due to the traffic in town, and they’ve just not told us, meaning that I’ve had to get off at the next one and walk back to where I live.”
However, the road works have not just affected the bus routes. “They’ve been doing this incredibly noisy road resurfacing near where we live… and there has been no information from the council to let us know,” she said, adding “They’ve got no idea whether we’ve got exams at the minute or dissertations to write and they could be really hindering our studies.”
Barber added that the road works would soon be coming to an end, and so the services should soon improve. “There are controversial plans to build a northern link road linking the M6 to Heysham which
should reduce traffic flows thorough the city centre,” she said. “At that time we should be able to get more bus priorities through the city centre… but that is a few years away.”
By Steve Feekins & Collette McColgan