Late buses land Bristol mum free tickets

Elizabeth Thomas complained to First Buses and sent them an invoice - and was given free tickets. Picture: Hemedia

Elizabeth Thomas complained to First Buses and sent them an invoice - and was given free tickets. Picture: Hemedia

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A MOTHER tired of waiting for late buses sent the company an invoice for her wasted time – and got some free tickets.

Elizabeth Thomas, 44, said she was spending less time with her two children because of late services to and from her office job.

She complained to First Buses on a number of occasions but got no response.

She then produced an ­invoice for her time, which she worked out was worth £103.30, and handed a bill to bosses at a ­public meeting.

FirstGroup, a publicly owned company, has its headquarters in Aberdeen. It was formed in 1989 when council-owned Grampian Regional Transport was privatised in a management buyout led by its then general manager Moir Lockhead.

It has since expanded its multi-million pound empire to include the US, Canada, Ireland and Denmark.

Ms Thomas, a single mother from Stoke Gifford, Bristol, has now received an apology, as well as a number of free travel tickets.

She said: “I don’t mind waiting for buses. If I arrive a couple of minutes early at the stop, or if I have to wait between changes, I don’t mind that.

“But it’s when they are late or don’t show up with absolutely no explanation.

“I’ve had to start leaving an hour earlier just to be sure I get to work on time, and by the time I get home I’m looking at a 12-hour day most days.

“That’s time I should be spending with my children. Is my time not valuable to First?

“It is time I am never going to get back and I believe my time is valuable.”

Ms Thomas uses two buses each way to make the daily eight-mile journey to her office and back.

She uses her Twitter ­account to document any late or ­no-show services and decided to go through it and tot up the total amount of hours wasted waiting.

She calculated that since the summer of 2012 she had wasted 11.24 hours waiting for buses. She charged First £9.19 per hour, which resulted in a cost of £103.30.

She handed the invoice to bosses while at a public meeting to discuss problems bus users were facing in Bristol and gave them 15 days to pay the full amount.

Although they have not paid her in cash, First have given Ms Thomas several free day-passes.

A spokesman for First West of England said: “In line with the terms of our customer ­promise we have sent Ms Thomas a number of free day tickets for her to use at her leisure.

“These take into account the fact that on some of the occasions she noted the buses she tried to catch did not run as scheduled.

“We’re really sorry that she has encountered problems using our services.

“While we will – to some extent – always be hampered by things beyond our control, such as roadworks, incidents and ­accidents on the highway, we are committed to improving the punctuality and reliability of services, and ensuring that those things within our control run as they should.”

Commuter Dominic Utton also took action after 14 months of frustrating delays on the First Great Western rail link ­between Oxford and London.

He wrote to Mark ­Hopwood, the company’s managing ­director, every time his train was ­delayed, ensuring the time taken to read the letter matched the hold-up.

He wrote 98 times in nine months and soon had a huge number of fans reading his blog.

Mr Utton appeared on ­Panorama and turned his ­experience into a comic novel – Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time.

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