PLANNED bus improvements will finally be coming to the area after a long wait due to a lack of drivers.

Gloucestershire County Council has announced that Stagecoach West has finally found enough drivers to run expanded services for the 65 and 67 services. 

It is understood the long-awaited improvements will begin on Sunday, September 1, 2024.

This includes extra trips between Stroud and Dursley on the 65 (Stroud to Gloucester) on Sundays.

Meanwhile, there will be extra trips on Monday to Saturday evenings on the 67 service (Bussage to Cashes Green).

According to GCC, the 67’s Sunday service - which was previously cancelled in February 2023 - will also return.

These improvements were set to be made to services across Stroud but due to a reduction in drivers, these were delayed.

Elsewhere, upgrades were rolled out in Gloucester, Tewkesbury and the Forest of Dean.

Speaking at a council meeting on Wednesday, June 26, County Councillor Wendy Thomas (L, Dursley) asked for an update on the improvements.

Cllr Thomas said: “It has now been ten months since the September 2023 cabinet meeting, when details of new and expanded bus routes were discussed as a result of additional funding for our BSIP [bus service improvement plan].

“Residents in the Stroud area are still waiting for the promised expanded routes on the 65 and 67 buses.

“Once again I am in the position of having to ask for an update on when these expanded routes will appear and, again, if Stagecoach West is unable to deliver these services, what measures are being considered to offer these routes via other operators?”

Replying, GCC cabinet member for buses, Cllr Philip Robinson, said: “Stagecoach have confirmed that they are now able to start the registration process for the proposed improvements to the 65 and 67.

“We expect the services to begin in September.

“The delay to the implementation of these improvements is due to Stagecoach having a shortage of drivers in the area.

“This is not within the direct control of the Council and you may recall that last year I met the Traffic Commissioner to raise concerns about driver recruitment and its impact on bus services in the county.

“Whilst the driver situation in Gloucestershire has improved considerably since then it remains an issue in the Stroud area.

“I would also add that these issues are not necessarily unique to Stagecoach West and as such there are likely to be challenges to whoever is asked to provide the services.”

Speaking afterwards, a GCC spokesperson said: “We are pleased to confirm that we can go ahead with our plans to deliver improvements to bus services in the Stroud area, in partnership with Stagecoach.

“The 65 service (Stroud to Gloucester) will be expanded with extra trips between Stroud and Dursley on Sundays, and the 67 service (Bussage to Cashes Green) with extra trips on Monday to Saturday evenings and the introduction of a new Sunday service.

“Both will begin on Sunday, September 1 and will be part of the £2 fare scheme.

“These improvements will provide greater convenience for residents and we hope will make the bus an even more attractive option for customers.”