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Arriva 348 bus service stops calling at Great Easthall after drivers assaulted

A bus service to a Sittingbourne housing estate has been axed after drivers were assaulted.

Continued trouble on the route between Oak Road in Murston and Great Easthall has resulted in Arriva cutting the route.

The bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston
The bus lane at the junction of Oak Road, Murston

The 348 to Mulberry Way has been scrapped and the 349 now stops at Broom Road, rather than serving Great Easthall.

The firm said there had been "a spate of anti-social behaviour" and assaults on drivers.

Area managing director for Arriva Kent and Surrey, Oliver Monahan, said: "Withdrawing routes is always a last resort and a decision we never take lightly but despite numerous attempts to find a workable solution with Swale council and police, we have had to cease operation of the 348 and withdraw the 349 from Great Easthall.

"However, we have tried to save as much of the service as possible and implemented this as part of the revised 349.

"We apologise for any inconvenience but the safety of our drivers and customers is paramount."

Earlier in the year, the firm temporarily suspended the service after a number of motorists were seen driving up the bus lane the wrong way, causing issues for bus drivers.

One was assaulted in November which led to a police investigation.

Cllr James Hall (Swale Ind) for Murston. Picture: Swale council
Cllr James Hall (Swale Ind) for Murston. Picture: Swale council

Cllr James Hall (Ind), who represents Murston on Swale council, said: "The road was designed for buses only but because we’ve got people using it as a cut through it makes it dangerous.

"I’ve got sympathy for the drivers because they’re carrying vulnerable passengers and I wouldn’t want to do that down that road. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible.

"The police have done their best but they haven’t got the manpower. There could be a fatality."

Cllr Hall said he wanted a bollard to prevent people from using the bus lane.

He added completing a Northern Relief Road, linking Swale Way with the A2, would give residents an alternative way in and out of the estate.

Arriva's new timetables were published on Sunday, December 22, and included the 348 and stops in Great Easthall – the company has since altered its timetables online, removing mention of the estate.

Bus stop timetables, however, are yet to be changed.

A police spokesman said an investigation into an assault on a driver at Great Easthall on Tuesday, November 19, had been shelved.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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