A BUS company is looking for passengers to go undercover and check how its services are running.

Arriva has recently received complaints about changes to the services it runs across Southend, Rayleigh, Castle Point and Basildon.

The company is now seeking undercover testers so it can get a better understanding of any problems.

The services will also be ranked on comfort, convenience and cost. People taking part in the survey will be given a week’s free travel.Passengers have welcomed the news, but warned Arriva that their voices must be listened to.

Hockley is one area where there has been considerable controversy because of a reduction in services on the No 7 and 8 routes between Southend and Shoebury.

Brian Guyett, chairman of the Hockley Residents’ Association, said: “This is the first we have heard of it, but I must say it sounds encouraging. Our past surveys have shown people believe Arriva services are worse than they have constantly claimed.

“As an association, we would be broadly supportive of the initiative. If Arriva takes notice of the comments, then it could be helpful.”

David Hanraham, 71, of Spencer Gardens, Ashingdon, spoke out last week about his concerns about late services and buses terminating before the end of the route.

He said: “If they are really going to do something and take notice of what is said, then it will be a great improvement.

“What we really want is competition. When we had more than one bus company running services around here, the service was brilliant.”

Steve Howson, operations manager for Arriva Southend, said: “We’ve made some significant changes to our network and we are appealing to bus users old and new to test it out for us.

“Whether you are a long-standing bus user who wants to compare the service with what you’re used to, or someone who hasn’t stepped on a bus for years, we want to hear from you.”

Local residents interested in becoming a bus tester should e-mail bustester@arriva.co.uk for more information.