By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 15 March 2013 Updated: 15/03 08:43
THE TAKEOVER of bus services in the town by Diamond has been slammed by hundreds of residents.
Angry residents have taken to the Standard’s Facebook page to criticise the company following its buyout of First’s Redditch operation, which came in to effect less than a fortnight ago.
The change means Diamond now runs the majority of services within the borough.
Overall about 200 complaints or comments have been made about the current standard of service to the Standard through its social media sites, by phone or email.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to providing a high quality service in Redditch, hence our acquisition of First Midland Red’s depot in the town. We have inherited vehicles and ways of doing things that are not in line with Diamond standards and we are working hard to change them so that we provide the best possible service.
“No company expands or buys other companies with a view to annoying its customers and Diamond are no different.
“We have had to change many things very quickly to bring the Redditch operation in line with our expectations.
“Such large changes cannot happen overnight and in this case it has taken a week and a half to iron out large and small issues in the way things are run.
“By no means do we feel this is perfect and we will continue to review each day how we operate and make necessary changes.”
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Q - Residents asked why buses were not arriving regularly, were arriving three at a time or had been late in the past few weeks.
A - We are aware that the running system we have inherited from First has not worked. This has impacted on the 57/58, 55/56 and 51 corridors as well as some journeys on the 247 and 143. After a week of intensive monitoring, operating experience and advice from drivers and passengers, we have now changed the way these services are operated and by which drivers. We have already seen a marked improvement on the 51 with every bus on Wednesday morning turning up and running to schedule. Therefore we feel we have put into place long-term solutions for these issues.
Q - Concerns were raised about school services being overcrowded, speed limits not being observed near to schools and children being refused access to buses which were not full.
A - We have had staff on or observing school services for the last few weeks. We have not spotted or had reported any issues of this kind. We will ensure we investigate such reports if they are reported to us at www.diamondbuses.com or by calling 0121 322 2222, we will also actively monitor these services.
Q - Comments were made about whether changes would be made to the timetable to reintroduce previously cancelled buses, evening services and more buses at peak school times.
A - We will shortly be relaunching our Have Your Say survey and Network Review for the Redditch Area. We will put on-bus surveys alongside the online survey on our website. We would like to hear your suggestions such as later services, improvement in journeys to Studley and more frequent services on certain corridors. We can then evaluate all of that information and put a plan in place, with Choose How You Move to improve the service in and around Redditch. We really encourage all passengers to get involved with this when we launch it to help shape the future of Redditch transport.
Q - Questions were asked about the quality of older buses, especially those not accessible for wheelchair or pushchair users.
A - We are currently changing the fleet and will remove all step-entrance buses. We have already replaced 65 per cent of such vehicles with newer low-floor vehicles. We will continue to replace these and commit to providing accessible services.
Q - Many were concerned about wheelchairs and pushchairs not being able to use the spaces allocated for them at the front of buses and that some drivers were not waiting for vulnerable residents to be seated before pulling off from a stop.
A - We are aware that there have been a few issues with buggies and wheelchairs on services. We are sorry for the problems this has caused and we will issue notices to drivers and speak to them to remind them of the requirement to help those less able, with wheelchairs or with buggies travel on Diamond.
Q - Residents asked why they had been charged different fares on the same service.
A - We are unaware of any drivers issuing different fares. Please contact us at www.diamondbuses.com or on 0121 322 2222 and keep your ticket as we will require the driver number and ticket number to investigate further. It is also important that you always take a ticket and that the ticket shows the amount you have paid. If it does not, please contact us.
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