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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Former London buses can’t cope on Cumbria's open roads

Stagecoach says it has sorted out a reliability problem with ex-London double-decker buses not used to travelling at more than 10mph on Cumbria’s open roads.

This had led to repeated breakdowns on its 104 bus service between Carlisle and Penrith.

Elizabeth Senior contacted the News & Star after she was left stranded in torrential rain when her bus failed to turn up on Thursday.

The 63-year-old widow catches the 104 at Armathwaite road end – on the A6 near High Hesket – five days a week to visit the DW gym in Carlisle, which she attends for medical reasons.

She said: “I went for the 11.03am bus, stood at the bus stop for 40 minutes and got soaking wet.

“There is no bus shelter on either side of the road and the wind just blows across from the M6. If it had been winter, I would have had hypothermia.”

She added: “This isn’t the first time the bus hasn’t come. It has happened half a dozen times in the lastcouple of months.”

Stagecoach increased the frequency of the 104 from hourly to half-hourly in March when it drafted in double-deckers from London to cover the extra journeys. It is these, Mrs Senior says, that keep breaking down.

She said: “They are clapped out, totally unreliable. If Stagecoach can’t provide reliable vehicles they should give up the service and allow Reays to do it.”

Matt Cranwell, operations director for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire, has sent a letter of apology. This says that reliability problems are “totally unacceptable”.

It adds: “I can assure you that we take matters such as these extremely seriously and we will be looking to ensure that we do not see a repeat of the problems you have encountered.

“I am confident that the issues we were having have now been resolved.”

Mr Cranwell told the News & Star that engineers had modified the seven-year-old double-deckers to improve reliability. He said: “These were ex-London vehicles that had been operating stop-start, rarely at speeds of more than 10mph.

“When you change the kind of work a vehicle does there can be problems.

“We believe we have got to the bottom of them but we will be monitoring the service very closely.”

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