Cambridge

‘I quit my job because stagecoach buses are so bad’

A frustrated retail worker gave up her Cambridge-based job because of her awful daily bus commute.

Emily Tofts would be regularly delayed for as long as an hour as she travelled in and out of the city centre.

Over two years of commuting the 25-year-old experienced numerous delays and no-shows, and was even forced to catch taxis home.

On one occasion the work and travel stress combined to trigger a panic attack.

"I left Cambridge and stopped working in Cambridge and I'd never do it again. It was awful," she said.

'It was stressful'

Emily Tofts hated her commute to work in Cambridge (Image: Emily Rofts)

Between March 2014 and 2016, Emily drove from her Linton home to the Stagecoach-run Babraham Road Park and Ride to catch the bus into Drummer Street in Cambridge.

"They are supposed to be every 10 or 15 minutes [but] I'd be waiting 40 minutes or they wouldn't turn up," Emily said.

"Some buses would turn up all at once or they wouldn't let you on. It would make me late for work."

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Emily said often buses would be listed on electronic display screens but never arrive at a stop.

Once Emily decided to walk the three miles from the Drummer Street bus station to the park and ride site.

She also got a taxi towards home after getting fed up with waiting for a bus.

Emily acknowledged that Stagecoach had offered to refund her journeys.

"It was stressful," she said. "Both ways were just as bad. At the end of your working day it's not what you need."

The Babraham Road Park and Ride. Picture: Warren Gunn

'I would get home angry and upset'

The gradual build up of frustration was a "big factor" in why Emily eventually decided to move on from her job at Cambridge's Oliver Bonas store.

"I would get home angry and upset," she said.

"I think it just built up over time really. It reached a point that I felt it was the right time for me.

"That was a big factor for me, the transport. It completely put me off.

"It turns a nine hour day into 11 or 12 hours."

Emily said she took her complaints to Stagecoach drivers, but felt unhappy with their response.

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Cambridge North Station

"A lot of the time they wouldn't acknowledge the question, " she said. "They would say it's not our fault, there's traffic, there's nothing we can do about it.

"It was never put in a nice way. There was never really an explanation.

"I work in retail. If you keep people waiting in a queue you say 'sorry about the wait there', you want people to come back to use the service."

Emails and tweets sent to Stagecoach's head office were no more helpful for Emily.

"The made me feel a bit silly really," she explained. "That 'you should understand we couldn't clear x,y,z traffic' etc.

"It was always a similar response: 'sorry for any inconvenience caused but there's not much we can do about that."

'No wonder so many people drive instead'

Cambridge residents have experienced problems on the Citi 1, 2 and 3 services (Image: Keith Jones)

The News spoke to Emily after running a story on a group of Cambridge college cleaners furious at bus problems making them late for work.

The cleaners, who work at Emmanuel College, said that the Citi 1, 2 and 3 services run by Stagecoach are 'unreliable'.

Readers reacted to the story in their droves, leaving more than 100 comments on our website and Facebook.

ProfGumby3 wrote: "It's not just the service that's unreliable, but the displays too. No wonder so many people drive instead."

"I have stopped writing complaints to Stagecoach because it's a waste of time," said a user called 'rabbits'.

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One commenter, Alexandra Guiet, said her bus trip from Arbury into the city centre is frequently delayed.

She wrote: "I take the bus from 7:12 am to Arbury to hope to arrive on time at work, despite that it often happens that I arrive at the last minute and then when there are buses that do not pass, after the buses are full and it takes even more time. I say a trip in 50 minutes is not tolerable.

"When I take the bus after work is the same there are often buses to cancel, so I come back very late."

But some readers came to the defence of Stagecoach.

Blue101 wrote "I think a lot of commenters on this site think that Stagecoach or Cambridge City Council have some magic solution out there for these problems.

"But with limited space and roads over capacity (at certain times) then what can they really do other than try to reduce the number of people driving at peak times?"

'For some reason it triggered a panic attack'

Emily picture while riding the bus to work (Image: Emily Tofts)

On one particularly bad day Emily found herself having her first panic attack at a bus stop.

"I obviously had a bad day and I let it get on top of me," she said.

"I was waiting for a bus and it had been about an hour. I remember I called my Dad and for some reason it triggered a panic attack.

"In the end I had to get a taxi back."

Emily acknowledged that Cambridge has a bad traffic problem and she is not sure what could be done to improve the bus services quickly.

But she said improving the attitude of staff would go a long way to supporting customers.

"When you have a bus full of angry, frustrated people it's nice to step onto a friendly atmosphere," she said.

Andy Campbell of Stagecoach East

'Stagecoach East operates at 90 per cent reliability'

Emily has since moved out to Somersham and travels in her car to work at Scotsdale Garden Centre in Great Shelford.

Despite having a long, and sometimes delayed commute, she prefers having the control over the movements.

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East, said: "Given that two to four years has passed since this complaint, we have no way of investigating further.

"However, between 2014-2016, Hills Road underwent major roadworks to create the cycle paths on both sides of the road, and this was out of our control.

"That said, on-board tracking devices show that Stagecoach East operates at 90 per cent reliability on routes covering 20.9 million miles, despite the increasing challenges of Cambridges congestion problems."

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