Schooltime Services 621 and 701 – Important Information

Dear Parent/Guardian.




As  you  may  be  aware, like many sectors of industry and particularly transport, we are facing horrendous staff shortages at present. This is caused by drivers re-appraising their lifestyle choices post Covid, Brexit, staff moving to better paid jobs in haulage/delivery/other sectors, and some simply wanting to move to more  9-5 type  roles. And, of  course  on  top  of  that  we   have  sickness  absence,  overlaid on the usual winter ailments.

We have managed to protect peak-time school services from unscheduled cancellations on a daily basis, although many of our local bus services have suffered.

The situation is currently getting worse rather than better, and although we have new recruits in our training school, it  takes around  3  months for  a non-bus licence  holder to  go through  all the  stages to acquire a provisional licence,  go through the various theory tests,  and then training with our instructors leading up to the final practical driving test. We envisage it could be many months before we reach a position of more normal staffing levels.

As a consequence, we are having to  withdraw two of our peak-time school services from 10th February 2022. We have picked the two services with the lowest passenger numbers, and where we believe many of the students will have alternative routes. I should say we have spoken to other operators to see if they could temporarily provide cover, but they can’t

The two services are:


621 – Great Totham – Braintree – Great Notley – Chelmsford Schools

701 (formerly L1) – Brightlingsea – Thorrington – Wivenhoe – Colchester Schools


621 passengers will have the option of using service 70, operated by First Essex.

701 Passengers will have the option of using service 87, operated by First Essex

I am extremely sorry that we have been forced to do this, and at relatively short notice. However, the staffing situation is worse than I have ever known in my nearly 40 years in the bus industry, and I fear that if we don’t take this decisive action, we will soon be at a point where there will be random daily cancellations of services to schools, and we end up leaving students by the roadside. By taking this action, we will hopefully avoid that, allow parents to plan alternatives, and affect the minimum number of pupils.

The last day of service for the 621 and the 701 will be Friday 10th February 2023.

The bus passes on sale on our website for the January 2023 term, have been reduced in price to reflect the short running time.

Any students that hold an annual pass, will of course be refunded for the unused portion.

Once again, please accept my sincere apologies for the cancellation of these services.

Yours Sincerely,


Stephensons of essex