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Bus drivers turn to counselling

PUBLISHED: 16:35 19 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:22 03 March 2010

STRESSED-OUT bus drivers are turning to counselling to help them cope with life on Suffolk's roads.

A TV documentary to be screened tonight shows the strain on Ipswich-based drivers working for First Eastern Counties.

STRESSED-OUT bus drivers are turning to counselling to help them cope with life on Suffolk's roads.

A TV documentary to be screened tonight shows the strain on Ipswich-based drivers working for First Eastern Counties.

Unions say road congestion is making it increasingly difficult to stick to timetables – and claim delays sometimes lead to frustrated passengers taking out their temper on drivers.

The programme, Stressed Out, at 7.30pm on Anglia, comes just one day after the Evening Star revealed that four pensioners face the prospect of being banned from Ipswich Buses vehicles amid claims of "unacceptable" behaviour.

Bob Smith, shop steward for the TGWU (Transport and General Workers Union), is a driver on the Superoute 88 service between Ipswich and Stowmarket.

"Being a bus driver is a very demanding job because of the responsibility," he said.

"Road congestion makes it difficult to stick to the timetable, especially in Ipswich town centre – I think the councils should do more to help cut the congestion and make the routes better for buses."

Mr Smith said most passengers were well-behaved, but added: "If the passengers get stressed because of delays, then the driver is first in the line of fire. Drivers do get threatened, and that happens not only at night, but also during the day."

He said some drivers had been off sick with stress-related conditions and he welcomed moves by First Eastern Counties to make counselling available for drivers suffering from stress.

He added there was a national shortage of bus drivers, largely because people did not want to work unsociable hours.

Chris Dexter, area traffic and administration manager with First Eastern Counties, agreed that road congestion was causing stress for bus drivers.

"We work quite closely with occupational health practitioners and will offer counselling if there is a problem," he said.

He added that new drivers were befriended by experienced "buddy drivers" while training, to help them cope with the stress of the job.

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