First Buses: A Fall from Grace

In 2011 I started studying at Bath Spa University and since I live about fifteen miles away in Corsham, it meant that I had to ride a lot of buses. Some people might think that a commute like that might prove to be quite bothersome, but that was not the case at all because of the wonderful 231 bus service run by First Buses. I love riding on the bus and their reliable service meant that I could always depend on them…
   Four years later, things have changed. I work in Bath now and I finished work and got to the bus station at 5:40pm, perfect timing, since the next 231 was at 5:50pm. A bus arrived at 7:10pm. So not only did the 5:50pm fail to arrive, but the next bus, the 6:45pm, was almost half an hour late! A few years ago, I’d have given them the benefit of the doubt; there are sometimes break downs and traffic accidents… But when the bus came, there was no explanation or apology. Several frustrated commuters asked staff at the station why they were running so late and they were just told that they didn’t know.
   Sadly, days like today are not uncommon. On reflection, I realised I can’t actually remember the last time that the bus was on time. My bus into Bath in the morning is always five to ten minutes late (and sometimes five minutes early, which is annoying) and on the way home it is usually twenty minutes late. It’s sad because this shows that the higher ups at First don’t really care about their employees or their customers. They show they don’t care about their customers because they’re happy to create situations where they have to waste hours of their time, and they show they don’t care about their employees by forcing them to have to face disgruntled customers who will invariably blame the driver (often aggressively) for the bus’s lateness (which may have been entirely out of their hands, if they even knew about it.)
   The problem is that their only competition comes from the Faresaver service X31, but this doesn’t operate during early or later hours, so a lot of people have no choice but to use First’s bus service, meaning they don’t need to make an effort to keep their customers.  People have complained about First the whole time I’ve used it, but it’s only over the last few months that it really has become the awful service people say it is. In the past I’d always defend First from critics, now I can’t defend them, I am one of the critics.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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