A passenger has said he is “sick to death with the appalling service” of the 477 bus service between Dartford and Orpington.

The 74-year-old is concerned that Arriva would like to scrap the route entirely after a long span of problems.

Peter Adams, who lives near Oakfield Lane in Dartford, told the News Shopper: “Sometimes you only see two or three buses on the route when there is supposed to be five.

“They do seem to have serious problems getting drivers.

“I think they don’t get a lot of money from Kent County Council to help fund the service.

“The service doesn’t pay, you realise that when you are on it.

“In real terms, I think they want to get rid of the route altogether.”

There have been hefty cutbacks to the service in recent weeks.

Arriva said that “decisions made were directly linked to a decline in passenger numbers, following the COVID19 pandemic and its impact on journey needs”.

Since April 17, the 477 now only runs as far as Dartford, no longer serving Darent Valley Hospital and Bluewater Shopping Centre.

The service no longer runs during the late evenings, with the last bus leaving Orpington bus station at 6.20pm on a weekday.

The Sunday service was also fully scrapped.

Arriva has also scrapped the Gravesend 455 service completely.

Peter explained that quite often the 477 bus does not show up and it affects workers who use the service at key times in the morning and evening.

He said: “There was a lady waiting at the bus stop at Shirehall Road a few weeks ago and I was walking back home.

“She said to me that the bus has not come and told her I was originally waiting for the quarter to four bus and but it was not coming.

“She works in the care home nearby and had been there since the early morning.

“She was absolutely shattered, you could see she was, and she was really upset.

“She told me ‘I can’t walk all the way back to Swanley and I can’t afford a taxi back’."

Peter works part-time for the Royal National Institute of the Blind and collects charity boxes which he often transports on the bus.

He said: “I’ve walked back plenty myself because the bus isn’t running, sometimes on a weekday or sometimes a Sunday, I don’t mind so much because I do a lot of walking but that isn’t the point, you cannot rely on the bus at all.”

Peter said that he had emailed Arriva three or four times complaining about the “disgusting service”.

A spokesperson for Arriva said: “Unfortunately, decisions made regarding the frequency of service on our 477 route are directly linked to a decline in passenger numbers, following the COVID19 pandemic and its impact on journey needs.

“Furthermore, we are currently experiencing driver shortages at our Northfleet depot, which is having an impact on service delivery.

“However, there is a significant recruitment drive across the business at the moment which we hope will resolve these issues imminently.”

A Kent County Council (KCC) spokesperson said: “We acknowledge these amendments are part of a series of changes having to be made by operators in response to some really challenging conditions.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on the levels of people travelling on public transport and bus use in Kent is estimated currently at only 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

“At the same time, costs relating to fuel and wages are also increasing which is making a number of these services unsustainable.

“The decision to amend this service has been taken by the operator and not the council, although the council is not in a position to directly intervene or fund any replacement services.”

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