Services could be cut after TT period

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Friday 27th May 2022 11:00 am
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Line up of new mercedes buses for Bus Vannin. ()

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A number of bus services could be cut after the TT fortnight if Bus Vannin doesn’t have enough drivers, according to the minister for infrastructure.

Tim Crookall addressed concerns about the number of bus services that have been cancelled over the last few weeks as Bus Vannin faces a driver shortage because of sickness, including stress and injuries.

He said the operator was consistently nine to 12 drivers short which had led to multiple cancellations, adding: ‘After TT we might decide we haven’t got the drivers so go back to a lesser service.’

Onchan MHK Rob Callister said he was ‘seriously concerned’ about Bus Vannin looking at cutting services when the island is about to welcome a vast number of visitors for the TT.

Mr Crookall added that bus timetabling for the next three weeks is ‘being looked at’.

This was in response to Mr Callister’s question on how many bus services had been cancelled on each day since May 14 and why.

Mr Crookall listed how many had been cancelled each day, equating to just over 130 individual services out of the 600 services Bus Vannin operates.

‘We need reassurance that once TT visitors start coming in we won’t be inundated with cancellations,’ Mr Callister added.

The minister said: ‘We will absolutely try to provide what we can. The TT schedule will only be put out with drivers we know we have.’

He explained that bus drivers would make themselves available for overtime if necessary.

‘They know when it’s crunch time and will turn out to make this work,’ Mr Crookall said.

Garff MHK Daphne Caine expressed concern that drivers were refusing to do overtime. Mr Crookall said it’s their right to work to their contracts and it’s ‘up to them’ if they wish to do overtime.

‘We have staff shortages and vacant jobs, sickness and we also have staff who are tired at the moment who have been covering for Covid,’ he added.

‘I am working with the staff to try to get as many drivers back as possible.’

Michelle Haywood, MHK for Rushen, said she felt Bus Vannin needed to look at its role in tendering for private company Tours Isle of Man and it wasn’t the place of government departments to be working against private industry.

Mr Crookall said: ‘Our job is to provide core service for people in the island. Tours do cruise lines first and we do the bits they can’t do. We will work on those contracts.’

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