Moorlands disConnect

When I phoned Moorlands Connect at 9.15am this morning to book a ride back from Hartington to Alstonefield at lunch time, I was surprised to be told that the service had been cancelled for the day because of the snow.

It seemed a very odd decision as there was very little snow on the roads which had been gritted and I wondered if the new vehicles were not suited to bad weather. I was used to the old bus service which had managed to keep running through most of the snowy winter last year.

We decided to walk to Hartington anyway and there, in the village square, was the Moorlands Connect bus. The driver told us the bus had been on the road since 7.30 am this morning and she was waiting for a passenger who had failed to arrive. She had heard nothing about the service being cancelled.

Our story ends happily as the driver gladly gave us a ride back to Alstonefield and was intending to speak to the call centre. I hope they sort themselves out!

3 thoughts on “Moorlands disConnect

  1. cathy_r

    Hi Meg,
    thanks for posting this. I will raise it will Staffordshire County Council, who run the service, and report back.

  2. cathy_r

    We have received the following comprehensive response from Staffordshire County Council about the Saturday in question:

    ‘There had been some snow fall and not knowing exactly how much there would have been in the Moorlands we needed to contact drivers to ensure that service was running. Unfortunately, we hadn’t got hold of them early on in the morning to confirm, so when the booking from Alstonefield came in it was declined since the person taking the booking couldn’t guarantee that there would be a service. It was only later on when telephone contact was made that the buses were confirmed as operating. Other people in the area booked on the bus had phoned in on the Saturday morning to cancel their bookings as they were concerned about the weather. In bad weather we do need to err on the side of caution and put the safety of passengers/staff first. In this particular instance, I accept that it did transpire that it was safe to operate but a decision had to be made about accepting that particular booking or not based upon the information available at that time. I would be grateful if you could convey our apologies that on that particular occasion we should have been able to accept the booking.

    With reference to the comments about the previous service which kept running and the vehicles we have chosen – there aren’t really any buses on the market that are especially suited to winter weather. We will investigate whether having snow chains available and/or different tyres would be beneficial (but I’m not aware of any operator in Staffordshire that does this). There is an issue with low floor buses and the ground clearance they have when snow reaches a certain height in the middle of the road. However, this disadvantage is outweighed by the far better accessibility that low floor buses offer, in addition to which there is a legal requirement that all local bus services are low floor by 2015.

    During the most recent bad weather, we have had regular contact with both Ashbourne Community Transport and the drivers to review the service, which is now back and fully operational. We were able to put the service back on the road immediately it was safe to do so’

  3. megh Post author

    Thanks for passing the message on Cathy. I think the service has improved since I complained in November. I have used it several times and the bus has always arrived on time with a very helpful driver. So I would now definitely recommend Moorlands Connect to anyone who has a bus pass, and even to those without who can afford £1.90 for a single journey.

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