There have been rumours circulating for well over a year now that Anglian Bus were in trouble. routes have been cut, tenders taken away, more routes cut, and last week the announcement that the 61 was being withdrawn between Kessingland and Southwold, and the 7 absorbed into the Norwich Park & Ride network.
However one of the silver linings around that cloud was the revelation that Anglian had retained, to everyone's surprise, the tender for the 80/81 between Yarmouth - Beccles - Diss. Was that a sign that the cancer that has been destroying Anglian for the last three years had finally been cut back to the bone and new healthy flesh was starting to grow? Had the corner that needed turning finally been located?
I received information today that Anglian have told Norfolk County Council that they no longer want the 80/81 tender, and have returned the route. As such, the next preferred bidder, Simonds will be operating the route from September. Full details have to be ascertained - as soon as I know I'll let you know.
Obviously this raises a humongous question mark over the future of Anglian. Firms with a future do not hand back tenders. I only hope something can be done, but with Go-Ahead already shutting the lovely Tollesbury depot in Essex and cancelling all routes in the area, I can't see them throwing anymore money at Anglian. I'm not writing obituaries yet, but if they do have to be written it will make uncomfortable reading for some.
And speaking of uncomfortable reading my predictions about the future of Demand Responsive Transport in Suffolk are coming true. I attempted to book the new all singing all dancing all "good news" Connecting Communities service today for NEXT Wednesday, to take me to Saxmunsham, to connect with the 64, which is the whole purpose of the Connecting Communities initiative. Sorry we have nothing before 3.30, I was told, which since my appointment in Woodbridge is 11:20 isn't much use. Other areas still haven't worked out their routes or even if they are going to accept Concessionary Passes. One driver told me today the new bus he's meant to be driving next week hasn't been delivered yet so what he'll have to drive with the wrong sign writing is anyone's guess.
The blame lies firmly and squarely with Suffolk County Council. At no time were passengers consulted, or if they were it was clearly ignored. 3 busy areas have been merged into two areas and many people affected by not being served by areas in the future. The organisation has been farcical, and is yet another nail in the coffin of rural transport. As a result I am now stuck in my village for the next 5 days, unable to get out. Way to go SCC. Someone commented yesterday that what SCC knew about transport you could put on a fleas behind. Somehow I think that might be vastly too much space.
Finally I travelled in service on the Optare Metrodecker today, I'll do a full post on my findings in a day or so, but this news rather superceded it.