ANGRY and confused passengers were locked out of Blackburn’s new £4.7million bus station for more than an hour – after a rota mix-up meant the keyholder failed to turn up.

Inspectors had to guide early morning passengers across the station’s apron to their buses, which could not park up in their designated bays because of the problem.


One bus company boss described the scene as ‘chaos’.

The public transport hub opened three weeks ago, 16 months late.

It comes as it was announced another flagship bus station, also part of the £40million Pennine Reach Bus Scheme, has been delayed seven weeks after it’s official opening was cancelled at the weekend.

County Hall bosses revealed Accrington’s new £6.4million facility will now not be ready to open until Sunday, July 10.

Speaking about yesterday’s incident, Shabaz Zafar, owner of nearby Railway News in Blackburn, said: “There were dozens of angry and confused passengers about.

“Several passengers came into my shop to buy coffee and sweets complaining about the chaos on the bus station.

“They said they could not get into the bus station.

“The buses could not park up where they were supposed to or use the designated bays for their services so they were just parked up on the apron.

“Inspectors had to lead passengers across the tarmac to their buses.

“It’s not what you expect to happen with a brand new bus station.

“There were a lot of unhappy people milling around when I came in at 6am. Someone came and opened up about 7.15pm.”

Vicky Pilkington, co-owner of Accrington-based Pilkingtonbus, said: “It was chaos at Blackburn Bus Station.

“There were cleaners and passengers just stuck outside the new bus station.

“Inspectors had to lead people to the buses on the apron as they just parked up where they could get in.

“It’s not really good enough with a brand new bus station.”

Blackburn bus station opened 16 months late on May 1, this year after the initial contract with Barnes Group was terminated in June 2015 and they were replaced by Eric Wright Construction.

Shaun Walmsley, general manager for bus operator Transdev’s Lancashire United division, said: “As soon as we were made aware of the situation we organised for additional staff to be on hand to help customers get to their services safely.

“Most buses left on time and disruption was kept to a minimum.”

A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “We sympathise with anyone who was inconvenienced by this incident.

“There was a misunderstanding over the rota involving the company responsible for security and the key holder failed to turn up.

“This was clearly a frail system which has now been strengthened to ensure this does not happen again.”

The £40million Pennine Reach programme aims to speed buses and cars between Darwen, Blackburn and Accrington but has been dogged by problems.

Although part of the Furthergate Link Road connecting Copy Nook to Whitebirk Roundabout Junction 6 opened earlier this month, the £4.8million scheme, originally due to finish in Autumn 2015, will now not be completed till later this summer.

Bosses at County Hall blamed the delays to the opening of Accrington Bus Station on ‘relentless bad weather at the start of the year’.

It comes after the council reduced the departure charge for bus companies using the station, from £1.50 to 75p, following a boycott threat from local bus companies.

However, this remains higher than the 60p charge in place at Blackburn Bus Station and will be see a phased increase, according to county council transport bosses.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “There are always delays in building works and it usually takes longer than what you plan for.

“Of course negotiations on fixing a fee have taken longer than expected but I hope common sense prevails and I hope they set it at the same figure as Blackburn at 60p.”

Hyndburn’s newly instated Deputy Mayor, Cllr Peter Britcliffe, said: “The news that the bus station is delayed until Sunday, July 10 does not surprise me at all.

“You could describe this Pennine Reach bus fiasco as a comedy of errors.”

County transport boss Cllr John Fillis said: “July is a bit later than we had originally hoped to have the station open, but this delay of a few weeks is not the worst of the problems we have faced due to the severe weather at the start of the year.

“The main building work has been done, but we’ve still got plenty to do to make the new Accrington Bus Station ready for passengers.”