ANGRY residents are campaigning against a new bus timetable which is leaving people stranded.
Residents in Belfairs, Leigh, want a newly merged bus service reviewed immediately because drivers are simply not being allowed to complete their routes.
A month ago, bus operator Arriva joined the Number 29 service, between Belgrave Road and Southend Travel Centre, with the Number 13 service, between the travel centre and Garon Park.
However, the problem lies with bus drivers not being given sufficient time to complete the extended journey in the revised timetable.
They have been told by bosses to stick rigidly to these times, so they have ended up missing out some stops or only completing the travel centre to Garon Park section of the journey.
Residents are gearing up to hold a protest.
Margaret Webb, 65, of Woodcutters Avenue, Leigh, said: “It is disgusting.
“It’s affecting young mums with babies’ right up to the very elderly, It has ruined Easter as people cannot plan anything, and it is actually making many ill with the stress and worry.
“I have seen ladies terrified about missing their vital hospital appointments and another in tears as she had left her disabled son with a carer and just could not get home for hours.
“I feel sorry for the drivers as it is not their fault and they are getting so much abuse – but we are all just so mad about this.”
Linda Stedman, 67, of Belgrave Road, Leigh, believes the poor bus service was putting people off moving to the area.
She added: “There used to be seven routes, but now this is the only one that takes me into town. They are supposed to run every 20 minutes, but I have waited up to an hour and a half before. It is all very frustrating and it is affecting a lot of people.”
Lesley Salter, councillor for Belfairs, said: “People in their nineties are being told to get off the bus literally miles from their stop and forced to walk the rest of the way as the vehicle has to turn round and go back in order to keep to the timetable.
“Others have been stranded for literally hours in the centre of Southend, three hours is the worst example I have heard, just waiting for a bus to take them home.”
A spokeswoman for Arriva blamed roadworks at the Victoria Gateway for the delays and said as soon as the phasing of the traffic lights is complete, they will assess the running of the 29 service.
She said: “Some days there are delays in excess of 45 minutes on a stretch of route that is only 300-400 yards. We accept the 29 has been unreliable, but the situation is beyond our control.
“We can only apologise to our customers for the inconvenience this is causing.”
The roadworks were completed three weeks ago and the junction has been at full capacity.