Stagecoach drags feet over driver changeover issue

Photo of a bus waiting at a stop on a busy road.
A Stagecoach no. 10 bus holding up traffic on Hatchet Road, Stoke Gifford.

The issue of Stagecoach buses causing traffic congestion on Hatchet Road, Stoke Gifford due to driver changeovers being carried out at the two stops near Meade Park continues to frustrate motorists.

Following the publication of a reader’s letter in our October magazine, another reader has been in touch to say that he raised a similar matter with Jack Lopresti MP in 2019, albeit relating to changeovers occurring on Orpheus Avenue, Little Stoke. The response from Stagecoach reveals that it began receiving complaints about driver changeovers on Hatchet Road as far back as 2017/18, in relation to the 77 service (now the no. 10).

The changeover location was consequently switched to Orpheus Avenue in 2018, the main criterion being that drivers could still take their rest break at the Stagecoach depot at Pegasus Park, off Gipsy Patch Lane.

However, the 2019 response noted that once Gipsy Patch Lane closed for the railway bridge replacement work, it would no longer be possible for drivers to travel from the depot to Orpheus Avenue and so the changeover location would temporarily be changed to Southmead Hospital, “at extra cost to the company”.

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Following sight of the 2019 response, and with Gipsy Patch Lane yet to be fully reopened, the Journal asked Stagecoach why it is not currently using the hospital for changeovers, as previously advised.

Rachel Geliamassi, managing director at Stagecoach West, responded:

“Driver changeovers are an essential part of our operations to keep services running so that we can continue to serve our community. However, there is often not a perfect place for these to happen, for various reasons.”

“Due to drivers being unable to take their breaks at a hospital following the onset of the pandemic and advice to reduce footfall within hospital grounds, driver changeover remains at Hatchet Road.”

“Although this is not ideal, with the service being an hourly one, the dwell time at the bus stop for driver changeovers is not continuous. Despite this, we have issued an instruction to our drivers on the service 10 to complete their paperwork before their changeover, to minimise the time spent at these stops.”

“We will consider other options once the [Gipsy Patch Lane] works cease, however, it will remain a challenge as the lay-by stops don’t have enough room to accommodate two (or more) buses at once without blocking the road and other options, such as the Parkway Station bus interchange, would require a vehicle shuttle for our drivers to get to and from the depot.”

“We recognise that we need to minimise congestion where we can, and we appreciate residents’ patience whilst we work on a solution.”

• A reader has made us aware that he has recently raised this issue with the Traffic Commissioner for the West of England.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 9). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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