Published: 10:22, 23 October 2019
| Updated: 10:27, 23 October 2019
The opening of Sittingbourne's new bus hub has been delayed at the last minute because of "safety" fears.
Bus operators were expecting to begin using the bus station next to the multi-storey car park last Monday but were told just before the weekend that work would not be finished in time.
Roland Eglinton, managing director of Chalkwell Coach Hire, said: "We found out on Friday, but not by the developers, contractors or Spirit of Sittingbourne, that the new bus hub would not be ready for Monday.
"This was despite several assurances over the past few weeks."
He added: "A number of safety-critical measures had not been completed and so we could not use the hub.
"We appreciate the new bus hub will provide significantly-improved facilities for bus users, although the number of bus stands for waiting in-between journeys has been reduced considerably."
He also hit out at Spirit of Sittingbourne developers for keeping bus companies in the dark.
He said: "We and our customers are thoroughly fed-up with the poor communication and numerous delays associated with this scheme."
The company warned passengers about the last-minute change on its website.
It said: "All services will continue to use the stops on the island section of the hub, opposite Lang’s, until further notice. We apologise for any confusion this may cause although the situation is not of our making."
Fellow bus company Arriva was also forced to issue an emergency warning to passengers.
It tweeted: "Due to reasons beyond our control, Sittingbourne Bus Hub will not be opening on Monday. Therefore all existing bus stop arrangements will continue until further notice."
The outstanding work includes:
* Realignment of kerbs so the ends of buses don't stick out into road
* Moving one of the bus shelters
* Safety signs to stop pedestrians walking into the path of buses
* No road markings to indicate the direction of travel
It is the latest in a series of delays to have hit the £57 million town centre Spirit of Sittingbourne development which includes restaurants, an eight-screen cinema and a 63-bedroom Travelodge hotel.
Spirit of Sittingbourne spokesman Gordon McKee said: "Unfortunately due to complications including the bad weather in recent weeks, the new bus hub adjacent to The Forum on St Michael’s Road will not be open and operational on Monday 14th as originally planned.
“The work required for the opening of the hub is almost complete and we will be looking to open the hub as soon as possible.
“As such, the delay is not likely to be long term, though is weather dependant.
“We will issue a further statement when we have a new estimated date for completion.”
The new 317-space multi-storey car park in Bourne Place opened in September five months late and St Michael's Road was closed during the summer for "emergency repairs."
Sittingbourne motorists and residents are preparing to face more rush-hour traffic delays on Monday when a new system of parking for school buses is introduced.