Reading Buses successfully managed to keep all its routes running in last week’s extreme winter weather, with only minor delays and diversions, during the effects of Storm Emma and the exceptionally cold snap leading up to it.
The company says that last Thursday and Friday were the worst hit days and extra resources were brought in as part of the company’s extreme weather planning to help support front line operations and customer communications.
It says customers have been extremely complimentary of the company’s efforts with many users turning to social media to praise the work of the company and its drivers.
Margaret Banjo on Twitter said: “Seriously, Reading Buses is doing a great job. Other services have buckled under pressure, but check you out!!” Tommyboy622 said: “Thanks to the drivers on the 26 last night I didn’t have to walk home. All the drivers on Reading Buses keep us all moving. It’s the best transport service any town can have.” Margot Bishop, also on Twitter, said: “Your drivers are absolute legends – keeping going despite the appalling weather. It’s the safest way to get around Reading at the moment.”
Over the two worst days the company was, for a short time, unable to serve a small number of sections of route owing to roads becoming unsafe, particularly in hilly and more remote areas. However, it kept each case under review and was able to return to most sections of route soon after further gritting had taken place. In many parts of the town the regular throughput of buses was credited with helping to keep roads clear and moving.
When schools closures were announced on Thursday morning the company was able to run extra journeys to return pupils home and was even able to deploy extra resources to assist the railway with disruption following a track failure at Wokingham.
“On Thursday night we provided an emergency rail replacement call out bus which ended up taking stranded rail passengers as far away as Southampton. Our overnight 24/7 routes operated on both nights without any notable disruption and even the company’s London service, the recently taken over Green Line 702 route from Reading, Bracknell and Slough, continued to operate throughout the bad weather,” says chief executive officer Martijn Gilbert.
“We are extremely proud that we managed to keep our 200 vehicle fleet operating safely during some very challenging situations out on the roads. That is testament to the hard work of our team, many of whom battled the extreme conditions to get into work as well is working in them.
“Our drivers safely navigated roads covered in snow and ice and did it with a smile, many working extra hours to help keep services running. They were supported by our control and supervisory team who again braved the elements to check routes and support customers and drivers in the town centre, as well as controlling services and communicating with customers from our control room alongside our customer services, engineering and cleaning teams, all of whom played an important part too.
“Praise must also be given to the Reading Borough Council Highways gritting team who worked almost continually to try and keep the major roads clear. Each year we give feedback on their gritting plan and again it worked well to support the largest numbers of vehicle and passenger movements across the Borough.
“We’re now looking forward to some warmer weather, our bus washes and water pipes defrosting and getting back to our usual high standards of fleet presentation, as well as day to day operations.”
Cllr Tony Page, deputy leader and lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, says: “Once again the staff and drivers of Reading Buses have shown what a crucial role they play in keeping Reading on the move.
“The council is justly proud of its bus company and to the dedication and commitment of our council highways and gritting staff in responding to the very difficult and challenging road conditions in recent days.”