Wages docked and missed medical appointments: Pontypridd’s bus saga


Staff getting their wages docked for arriving late to work and waiting in the rain for more than an hour for a bus to arrive. This is the reality of what residents in Pontypridd are facing with local bus services.

Over the last few months, customers have claimed they can’t rely on the services, which are mostly run by the N.A.T. travel group, and are often left waiting over an hour for buses unsure if they’ll even arrive.

A spokesperson for Adventure Travel confirmed there have been some recent issues concerning the 102, 103 and 104 services, mainly as a result of a shortage of drivers.

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One commuter Kim Hughes, from Glyntaff, surfers with MS, fibromyalgia and sciatica and regularly uses the bus service as she can’t walk up the hill near her home.

She has become growingly frustrated with the service, as she was recently left sitting in the rain with her shopping for over an hour.

She said: “I caught the 104 from Glyntaff to Tesco, Nantgarw. When you get there, it’s an hour before the next bus so that’s enough time to get to a shop and straight home. The next bus didn’t arrive so I waited an hour and 15 minutes for the next.”

The 104 bus service runs from Pontypridd to Tesco Upper Boat. Kim also uses this service if she needs to travel to the doctors, which causes further issues if it doesn’t show up. She claims she once sat on the 104 bus for 15 minutes, and the driver failed to inform her the vehicle had broken down.

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Kim said: “I finally asked the driver if the bus was going and he said ‘no it’s broken down’, but they didn’t even bother to tell us so I had to get another bus.”

The poor experiences have led to Kim now being too scared to travel via bus in case she ends up being stranded.

“My friends are having to help me. It has made me very anxious, and I also feel isolated,” she added.

Bev James, from Glyntaff, has also had issues with the 104. On Thursday, July 15 she waited over an hour at the station for the bus.

She claimed, even though there was a bus parked at the station, she was told no driver was available as two drivers had walked out earlier that day.

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Bev said: “The service is diabolical. I could catch the 102 Rhydyfelin from town, but that stops at Oak Street.

“I have two hills to climb but, because of ill health due to having chemotherapy for Leukemia recently, that isn’t an option for me at the moment.”

Carly Kinder, from Abercynon, also expressed disappointment with the service. Her 77-year-old grandmother lives on her own, doesn’t drive and frequently uses the N.A.T 106 service, which runs from Pontypridd Bus Station to Ynysybwl.

She said the hourly bus is a massive lifeline, as she has regular doctors appointments, and relies on the bus to get her there.

“At least once a week her bus doesn’t turn up,” she said. “Meaning she either has to wait an hour for the next one or, if she has an appointment, has to walk all the way down the hill to catch a different bus 15 minutes later.

“The service is absolutely shocking, and it seems to be across the board with N.A.T.”

Many customers have also shared their frustrations on social media, with one lady claiming she waited over three hours for a bus to arrive.

MS Heledd Fychan has been speaking to residents to get to the bottom of the issue

MS Heledd Fychan has been looking into the issues surrounding the local bus services and said it’s clear the situation has worsened following the pandemic.

She said the issue is mainly affecting people living in areas like Cilfynydd, Ynysybwl, Pontypridd and linking to places like Maesycoed and the Graig.

Heledd said: “It seems if you’re on the main route it seems to be ok. People from Cilfynydd have contacted me about having to get two buses from school, and the buses get cancelled, and they have to walk back from there.

“People from Ynysybwl working in Nantgarw who arrive late say their wages are being docked, so there are a number of things, as well as missed medical appointments and mixed vaccinations.

“I was speaking to two young girls at the bus stop today who said the amount of times they have gone for the bus and it’s either late or doesn’t turn up.”

Heledd said the company claim the problem is due to a “shortage of drivers”, and services were reduced as a result of the pandemic.

Despite this she said the service wasn’t great before lockdown last year, but the last 18 months or so seems to have led to worsening things.

Heledd added: “If you have a car it’s just a little bit of an inconvenience when a bus doesn’t turn up, but for people who don’t have that option, having to leave two to three hours to get to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and, because of the pandemic, they don’t want you waiting for ages.

“Throughout the pandemic I have had people contact me. Now it’s becoming more evident that it’s a problem.”

A spokesperson for Adventure Travel confirmed there have been some recent issues concerning the 102, 103 and 104 services, mainly as a result of a shortage of drivers.

The spokesperson said: “This is an issue affecting the whole industry, but we have been actively recruiting and training new drivers to address this. But, obviously, the training undertaken by our new drivers has to be thorough to ensure the utmost safety of our passengers and other road users.

“So, in the meantime, we have endeavoured to overcome these issues by loaning staff from our Cardiff depot to Taff’s Well as well as employing agency staff from outside the company to cover the shortfall as we realise the importance of providing a reliable service for our customers.

“We apologise for anyone whose journeys have been disrupted by these delays. We are doing all we can to address this as quickly as we can.”

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