Before reading this post I advise you to read the first part of a post I published around this time last year. Click here as it is relevant to what this post will be commenting on.
Before I pass judgement on the forthcoming changes here is a summary of them, with the vast majority of changes affecting the 7/61/62.
Timetable completely revised with services now leaving Norwich at 10/30/50 past the hour. Two buses an hour will run through to Southwold, one via Wangford, the other fast from Wrentham to Reydon. Services reduced to half hourly from 1510 instead of 1600 as present. 61A to mirror First's 99 running at 20 min intervals between the 61's between Lowestoft and Kessingland. New evening service between Kessingland/Southwold to Lowestoft.
Service withdrawn completely between Kessingland and Halesworth, and replaced by new service 60H between Halesworth and Beccles, with journeys continuing to Lowestoft as service 60. 60H will not serve Durban Close/Bedingfield Rd in Halesworth. Passengers from Holton/Wenhaston/Blythburgh wanting Lowestoft are advised to travel via Southwold on 88A/61.
Service withdrawn and replaced by new Konect service 71 between Hemsby and Yarmouth
Service completely revised with buses running fast between Beccles and Bungay, and in Diss the new Greenacres development will be served.
Service completely revised with some journeys continuing to Bungay via current 80 route, others continuing to Southwold as Service 60S and others to Halesworth as Service 60H
Service withdrawn and replaced by new service 60S
Other routes have minor timetabe adjustments but nothing major. The College Days only Service 7A, which I reported as having been withdrawn and passed to Konect is, in fact still operating with a revised timetable by Anglian.
Now if you were to ask me my reaction to these changes the words "happy" and "bunny" wouldn't be the first to spring to mind. In fact I'm aghast. Anglian claim that these changes are made after customer feedback. Which customer? I can only assume he or she lives in Kessingland.
Those of you who read this humble publication on a regular basis will know I go to Yarmouth a lot. I get there and back normally on the 62 from Halesworth, which becomes a 61 at Kessingland and carries through to Lowestoft and Yarmouth. It was formally the 602 and it is a great service. I can currently leave Yarmouth at 1650 and get back to Halesworth just in time for the last available booking on Suffolk Links. I can leave Halesworth at 0945 and get to Yarmouth in under two hours at around 1130. That 0945 is fairly well patronised in my experience.
So how will that change in May. Well the 62 is being scrapped. To get to Yarmouth I will either have to travel via Southwold or Beccles. Let's see how my journey time from Halesworth to Yarmouth will improve from the current 105 mins leaving after 0930. The first bus to Southwold leaves at 1010, arriving Southwold at 1045 (I would have already left Lowestoft by now). There is a 61 at 1057 arriving in Yarmouth at 1237. So I arrive 67 mins later than I do now, and the overall journey time is now 147 mins. An improvement of -42 mins then.
Ok let's now go via Beccles. Going that way at the moment I leave Halesworth at 1026 on a bus that is not only the happiest bus I've ever known but is normally full by time we get to Beccles. So obviously that bus has been cut. Instead I get the 60H at oh hang on the 60H doesn't serve Durban Close or Bedingfield Crescent, where I and a significant number of others get on. So we will have to get the 1036 88 to Saxons Way and change onto the 60H which leaves at 1050. Nothing like making pensioners wait at multiple bus stops in all weathers is there. The 60H arrives in Beccles at 1123. To get to Yarmouth I then need to change onto an 81, which leaves at 1135 arriving at Yarmouth at 1215. So 3 buses and a total journey time of 99 mins. A 6 minute improvement but 3 buses and 2 changes so really in the lap of the Gods, and still arriving in Yarmouth 45 mins later than I do now. Having said that I do now have an earlier option going that way which will be very useful on Saturdays.
So via Beccles seems the way then. As long as I don't want to get back that is. Currently, remember I leave Yarmouth at 1650 to get back to Halesworth around 1830. The last 60H leaves Beccles at 1756, running request only to Halesworth at 1829, so chances are a few mins earlier if I'm the only one on it. So naturally you would expect that for passengers travelling from Yarmouth the 81 would connect nicely. Nope. I kid you not the 1720 service from Yarmouth arrives in Beccles at 1757 - a minute AFTER the Halesworth bus goes. Remember people are being encouraged to leave cars at home and catch public transport. The service before leaves Yarmouth at 1555, some 85 mins gap.
Ok via Lowestoft it is then. Trouble is the 60 leaves Lowestoft at 1720, which means I'd have to leave Yarmouth at 1630, but that only leaves a 5 min window for the connection so any hold up and I'm rather stranded, so play safe and get the 1600, thus being forced to leave Yarmouth 50 mins earlier than present and wait at Lowestoft for 35 mins. If I travel via Southwold I will still have to get the 1600 from Yarmouth. Add that to the late arrival and my days in Yarmouth are going to be cut by a minimum of 95 mins. That's progress for you.
You may think I'm being selfish in concentrating on my own journeys. I am not the only person to make those journeys. many people from Halesworth/Holton/Wenhaston go to Lowestoft and yarmouth, particularly in the Summer months. Many people from the part of Halesworth not being served by the 60H travel to Beccles. They are going to be affected just as much as I am.
So why these cuts? Well it would appear that 3 extra buses are required for the 61A, and 2 of those have come from the 62. This is where the relevance to last year's post comes in. May I respectfully ask what the good people of Kessingland have got that the poor rural peasants haven't? Last time I looked Kessingland hadn't grown so why will they now need 10 buses an hour? 6 from Anglian, 3 from First and 1 from Borderbus. Are there that many passengers? Last year I scoffed at the 99, saying just running it from Kessingland to Lowestoft was pointless as there just weren't enough passengers to justify it. Anglian agreed with me when I spoke to them. The 99 has hardly been a roaring success, though I understand it makes just enough to justify it's continuance, so how do Anglian think they will squeeze anymore passengers out of Kessingland? It is a U-turn of giant proportions, and yet again regular, loyal passengers have been dumped on in the name of bus wars. Clearly other operator's passengers are more valuable than own existing ones. I criticised the 99 when it started, but this 61A is in a league of its own. Next week my village drops to 4 buses a week. Kessingland fom May will have 10 buses an hour. Suffolk is a rural county, like it or not. It leaves a rather bitter taste in the mouth, and I'm sure my fellow 62 passengers will agree with me. And sort that late non connection between the 81/60H out please.
You can view details of all the forthcoming changes on the Anglian website by clicking here.
I posted the latest VOSA registrations yesterday (see here ) and one of the entries that created some interest was the registration of a 600 Park and Ride service from Hartford P&R site to County Hall, operated by First. Well Freddie has been in touch to tell me that it is a service for County Hall workers, much like the former Ambassador service (thanks Damon), and will run 6 - 8 times a day until September when the new P&R Norwich contracts come into operation. From now on ALL my contacts at First will be referred to as Freddie, to protect their anonymity. The only exception will be if anyone specifically says otherwise, or I am quoting a particular individual.