Dartmouth-based students were unable to get to Kingsbridge Community College on time on Tuesday as the 7:30 bus didn’t turn up, despite students paying £300 a term to use the service.
The bus cancellation has caused controversy amidst growing concerns about the Dartmouth bus services, which many attribute to the closure of the Dartmouth depot.
A meeting will be held today to discuss the closure, after bus cancellations and delays have left residents feeling frustrated and letdown by bus operator Stagecoach.
Jonathan Hawkins, Town Cllr said: “Over the past few weeks there have been a large number of cancelled services either due to staffing, getting the buses to town, and the weather - all reasons why Dartmouth needs it’s Depot back.
“Residents are very concerned over reliability and ensuring they can get to work, appointments or even shopping.”
The delays have been exacerbated due to the closure of the depot, which occurred earlier this month. This means the buses are no longer kept over night at the Park and Ride site and now have to come from Newton Abbot and Plymouth. The considerable increase in distance has caused reliability issues in getting the replacement buses to Dartmouth.
Mr Hawkins added: “I believe that the recent changes and closure of the depot in Dartmouth have not been thought out properly.
“The current cancellations and missed services are totally unacceptable and they must improve.
“I am also pressing for an earlier 90 in the mornings to get people to work and South Devon college via Victoria Rd, and change the times from Boatfloat in the morning to allow pensioners to use their passes again back to after 9.30.”
A Stagecoach South West Spokesperson said: “The past year continued to be very challenging for our business. Our industry faces a challenging market with reduced patronage, a decline in revenues and decreased concessionary travel. As a result, it has been necessary to evaluate the future of one of our smaller outstations located in Dartmouth.”
“The closure came into effect from the beginning of this month with staff consultations taking place with those affected, this internal change to how services are operated has impacted a very small number of our employees and we have been working with those affected.”
They added: “We apologise to any Dartmouth residents who have been affected by the operational and timetable changes. We remain fully committed to providing local bus services in Dartmouth that the community can rely on and will ensure, moving forward, the delivery of the timetables in the area are delivered to the highest possible standard of reliability.”
Cllr Ben Cooper said: "It is having a big impact in town, from school children trying to get an education whether at Dartmouth Academy, KEVICCs or Kingsbridge Community College to the disabled and elderly who rely on the buses to get to the shops and Health and Wellbeing Centre to see their GP. Since they closed the depot, the service has been poor at best."
Councillors hope that the meeting will help in their bid to bring the depot back to Dartmouth and reduce wait times for residents of Dartmouth.