Go North East bus strike leaves volunteer facing £40 return taxi trip to work

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An indefinite bus strike by staff from one of the region's biggest transport operators has left one woman facing the prospect of a £40 round trip to get to work.

The action by Go North East drivers is causing "chaos" for people living and travelling through rural areas.

Hannah Allenby, who lives in Bowburn, near Durham, usually catches a Go North East bus for work as a volunteer at The Old Rectory, in Houghton-le-Spring.

But without that option, and unable to drive, she told ITV Tyne Tees she was having to work from home as she could not afford the alternative.

"The only possible way I could get to work is getting a taxi," she explained. "I'd have to get a taxi from home all the way up to Houghton-le-Spring and if I'm to do that as a return that's gonna cost me, on a good day, £40. It could cost me up to £50."

A journey on the bus would normally cost her £2.

Ms Allenby tutors vulnerable and elderly people in IT to help them better utilise emails and online shopping among other things.

She is now worried about the knock-on effect her not being there could have on the community.

"It makes me feel that I'm not doing my job because I'm not able to get my message across," added Ms Allenby. "I'm not able to provide a service for them because I can't be there...the physical side of teaching, I can't do that over a laptop."

Dr Joanna Berry said the lack of services is causing 'chaos' for her. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

'Causing chaos'

Also affected is Dr Joanna Berry, an academic at Durham University Business School, and a trustee at The Old Rectory.

She too is unable to get to the community hub and is facing a struggle to get to appointments following surgery for breast cancer two weeks ago which means she cannot drive.

"Even a minimal level of bus service would be better than nothing at all, which is totally destructive," said Dr Berry.

Now relying on friends, Dr Berry told ITV Tyne Tees missing an appointment could be "potentially very serious", adding: "It's really causing chaos in my life at the moment."

Dr Joanna Berry is unable to drive following a recent surgery for breast cancer. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Go North East workers began their indefinite strike on Saturday 28 October.

Unite the union said workers were escalating the industrial action after rejecting a pay offer of 10.3% which they labelled "insulting".

Workers have already staged two week-long strikes this month.

Ben Maxfield, Go North East business director, said last week that the company had "responded to each and every one" of the union's demands, while Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said Go North East was "responsible for the disruption".

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