Bus complaints up by a fifth

Complaints from bus passengers have risen.

Complaints from bus passengers have risen.

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The number of complaints against Blackpool Transport increased by almost a fifth last year, new figures have revealed.

A Freedom of Information request shows the bus and tram company received 1,519 complaints in 2012 - up from 1,282 the previous year.

Punctuality, reliability and driver conduct are the main bugbears of passengers.

But transport chiefs maintain they are providing a good service and say the figures need to be considered in the proper context.

Blackpool Transport’s director of delivery Bob Mason said: “If you consider that in March this year, we carried over 1.3 million customers and received 171 customer comments, then that’s fewer than 13 per 100,000 customers.

“And many of these are issues out of our control, such as roadworks and bus stops.

“For example when the Tour of Britain cycle race came to Blackpool, or the trams weren’t running because of the Elton John concert last year, it wasn’t Elton John people complained to - it was us!

“So when you break it down, actually we are doing a pretty good job.

“However, of course we are not perfect, and we do take complaints very seriously and investigate them.

“Our drivers are our frontline ambassadors and they all have customer care training annually.”

Roadworks, including closure of the Promenade, has been one of the major issues which the bus company has had to contend with.

Mr Mason added they also had a lot of complaints about the free travel scheme for pensioners.

He said: “A lot of complaints were from pensioners about not being allowed to use their travel cards on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights but that’s a regulation of the concessionary scheme.”

The Blackpool Passenger Focus Panel, chaired by Stephen Brookes, which includes a Bus Users group, said it believed the level of complaints was in line with other national and local service providers.

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‘They forget what town is going through’

Panel chairman Stephen Brookes said: “Blackpool has in the last 18 months seen a virtual collapse of the road infrastructure, and as the majority of the complaints are about reliability I am not surprised at this.

“In fact I am amazed that the service is as good as it is.

“Driver issues are more complex. Of course there are always some better than others, as in any organisation.

“Over the last three or so years I have, on far too many occasions, seen passengers giving drivers substantial verbal abuse over unavoidable delays, and at times have been amazed that strong responses have not been made by abused staff.

“We have a unique service in a difficult environment, and I think some complaining passengers forget what the town is going through.”

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