BUS services in Macclesfield are in crisis as Arriva haemorrhages drivers following the company's decision to move its depot to Lyme Green and shed 20 drivers.
According to one driver, services are being dropped every day because of the shortage of drivers and one route has even been contracted out to rivals Baker Bus.
Amongst staff there is even speculation that Arriva will sell their whole Macclesfield operation to Biddulph-based family firm Baker Bus, especially after senior Arriva management told them in June they were not making enough money.
The company say they are sticking to their original plans and deny the operation is up for grabs but an Arriva driver, who does not want to be named for fear of losing his job, told the Express that ten of the 44 drivers had already left, some to other bus companies.
He said: "We have been told there will only be 25 of us based at Macclesfield, so unless people have been told their job is safe they are leaving as soon as they get another job."
He says that all Macclesfield routes are being affected by driver shortages, made worse by the fact that many are also on holiday.
"Seven Manchester buses were missed two weekends ago and on one occasion the last night bus to Manchester didn't run, leaving 14 people stranded in Macclesfield for the night. Not a day goes by without services being dropped and even the regular routes like Upton Priory and the Moss Estate have dropped to one an hour instead of one every half hour on some days.
"The company has even contracted Baker Bus to provide a driver for the Number 19 Prestbury service."
That decision has triggered speculation amongst Macclesfield Arriva staff that the company may be planning to sell out in the town.
"They have not even signed the lease on the Lyme Green depot yet and we are supposed to move in October. Their operator licences are due for renewal at around the same time and they are being fined by the transport authority for every service they drop at present," said the driver.
"Several of us are beginning to wonder if they are planning to exit from Macclesfield completely. They have already brought forward moving the Stockport bus to Wythenshawe but that will mean moving two more drivers, leaving us even more short of staff."
Arriva's press office confirmed that the Number 19 service has been transferred to Baker Bus and said: "This has alleviated a problem we have had with staff shortages and enables us to provide a more reliable service from Macclesfield."
They denied they have lost ten drivers saying instead it was "a handful", and added that speculation about selling off their Macclesfield operation was not true.
"We do apologise to our customers who have been affected," said a spokeswoman.