Wednesday, 8 June 2016

What Now For Anglian?

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 routes have been cut, tenders taken away, more routes cut, and last week the announcement that the 61 was being withdrawn between Kessingland and Southwold, and the 7 absorbed into the Norwich Park & Ride network.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.


  1. Suffolk County Council don't consult. They just do whatever they want and a right mess they make of things

    Bus services in Suffolk are now so bad they are in terminal decline as what is left of them is unreliable and not of any use to anyone

    1. And Norfolk County Council do?

    2. I don't know enough about DRT in Norfolk to comment, perhaps someone else who does know the system up there can comment on the situation

  2. What are your thoughts on Konect at the moment?

    1. A lot of the minor bus companies such as Konnect. Anglian , Beestons and Chambers must be barely viable

      Far to many small operators providing fragmented services and bow to make things even worse there are the shambolic DRM services

    2. My thoughts on Konect are rather simple really - leave Steve Royal alone to get on with his job, and don't burden the guy with all things Anglian, and stop the interference from people who know as much about the area as I do Swaziland.

      It was not Steve's idea to get rd of the 2, or indeed the open top bus in Cromer, as far as I know. He's a nice bloke who knows his job yet must have felt under siege at times recently.

      The workforce at Konect seem a lot happier and settled than they do at Anglian, and that is due, in part to the fact their routes are much shorter. So yes rotas have been introduced, but for individual routes. So drivers on the 8 stick to the 8, the 3/6 to the 3/6 etc, so customers see a familiar face every time a bu pulls up. There is no round trip lasting 5h20m like the 7/61 does so changes have been a bit easier to implement without the chaos that ensued at Beccles.

      Whether Konect flourishes in the future, in my opinion is SOLELY reliant on interference from Go-Ahead kept to a minimum, and the management at Dereham being given free reign to run the company in the way they know will benefit everyone.

      What I'm not happy with, however, is the way Norwich Bus Station is being run. There was an opportunity to make the place far more welcoming and informative, but still those laughable people in orange jackets spend most of the time on smoke breaks, or lurking around the info desk. There job should have been redefined to be outside at all times, and instead of reporting buses for overstaying their time in a layover bay for a nanosecond, they should be assisting the public to the right stops, especially when buses have to use alternative stops due to late running/congestion, stopping antisocial behaviour - even blatant queue jumping, and not allowing people to walk in the road! Of course smiles rathet than suspicion for enthusiasts would also be welcomed.

  3. we will end up going back to old ways where there will be no public transport at all about from horse and cart

  4. Things don't change as much as we like to think. Although relatively recent, my knowledge of Suffolk County and public transport goes back to the late 1970s and over that time they have always been driven by budget, not mobility. Essex County, although equally criticised, are the other way around (to the extent that they can) - and it shows. Conversely when the purse strings are loosened, as they were for a decade from 1997, Suffolk will splash the cash (well, throw the pennies around) - but as we have observed it's here today, gone tomorrow, without much thought in either case. If anyone has the time the Essex Bus Review documentation is instructive, I've given a reference to a selection in the previous thread. But the fact that none of the commentators took it up and promoted it, is perhaps disappointing. But at least the users took the opportunity; and Essex did hold two rounds of local meetings, before any decisions were taken over a period of 2 years (so it couldn't be called rushed), not afterwards!

    The interesting thing, that we seem to forget, is that Suffolk have dedicated and effective people working in the industry, providing good public transport. When we slag it off, they shouldn't be forgotten. Sadly their Essex counterparts in the industry don't always appear to measure up, despite the better support from the public purse. Perhaps it's inevitable, this contradiction. Disappointing though, sometimes.

    1. What we need, Smurf is Essex Council and Suffolk bus managers. The likes of Chris Speed, Andrew Pursey, Dave at Beestons etc who struggle with all things Council related could do a far, far better job of organising things. I wonder if Malcolm Robson would like to come out of retirement and head up a Suffolk Bus Strategy - which would be a first for the county!

    2. Yes please. They could sort out Essex CC too. Their heart may be in the right place but their head is all over the shop. Many of us feel they could do a better job with our money!

    3. A great irony here Steve is that (I think) Suffolk CC have a dedicated public transport unit/officer which Essex CC don't. I can only assume Suffolk think they know everything there is to know about public transport. In Essex it's part of highways (integrated transport: geddit?), and without their own bus expertise they have to take advice from the operators who, guess what, know what they're doing! The consultations are run by their Policy Unit whose expertise is, guess it, talking to the public (and managing the politicians)! Sometimes the weirdest things have the most unexpected results!. Not sadly with Anglian, but your comment that they just make things so complicated for themselves rings a very loud bell. It always sounds trouble.

    4. Great idea Steve, put the lunatics in charge of the asylum. All three companies profit driven, don't care about the customer, care about the bottom line. You only like those three because they all have anoraks that match yours cos they are bus enthusiasts.

    5. Ladies, please make up your minds, either Essex are doing a good job or they are a bunch of contract managers who know nothing really about buses.

      And don't forget they have a big advantage on their doorstep as does Herts - it's called the capital. (London in case you are too busy drooling over Atlanteans to do geography at school)

    6. There's no big advantage in nestling against London!

      1. Huge expectations: London has buses late into the evening; why can't we?
      2. Cheapo fares - £1.50 single with Oyster: why can't we have cheap fares as well?
      3. Much large wages; a London driver won't get out of bed for less than £12ph / £18ph at weekends (and that's based on a basic rate at some companies; basic plus enhancements at others - - - it's all much of a balance in the end).
      4. TfL's ability to simply ride roughshod over any other operators around London . . . witness the frequencies in places like Epsom and Borehamwood, where buses run round empty after 2000 but paid for by TfL.

      All well and good, but there's a subsidy of north of £700m to pay for it all . . . . I'd love to see a Shire county come up with north of £2m in the present circs.

      The new Mayor has decreed a fares freeze for 4 years, so my word there's some cuts to come in TfL land . . . let's watch the late buses get slashed and burned soon!!

    7. I could have added Steve Royal to my list, Julian Paterson as well, but I was concentrating on Suffolk. The fact is the huge majority of successful managers ARE enthusiasts. David Squire, who turned round FEC is an enthusiast. Malcolm Robson commuted to work every day on his buses. I could go on.

      Of course my anonymous friend, if you can name me a single operator who ISN'T profit driven (why would they be in business otherwise)then I might start taking your barbed comments a little more seriously.

      You clearly didn't do geography at school either, or you would no that where places are plays no part in school geography lessons. I know exactly where London is but don't ask me what rock it's built on.

      I probably failed history because I was drooling over Atlanteans yes, but also Fleetlines, VR's, MetroScanias, Ailsas, Dominators, Metrobuses, Nationals - I had a few to pick from. I also would never have passed my Maths without my teacher, who guess what - yup he was an enthusiast! They can be quite useful people sometimes.

  5. Bye bye anglian interested to what turns up on simonds and any route improvements poss last route extensions as is to diss to save on out of service miles

  6. I'm not sure anyone is interested. But the problem, I think, with Suffolk is they have no public transport strategy; they just subsidise individual journeys, when they can't avoid it. Where does it fit in with everything else? It doesn't.

    Their neighbours, Essex and Herts, (and Cambs and Norfolk less so) have had a long term strategy to build and maintain a public transport NETWORK, and, most importantly, the public SUPPORT for it. The means that when the hard times come, and they have (Herts having even cut most of their support) the network has a reasonable degree of resilience, built up with public financial support over decades, that enables it to survive. (There is a little bit of that in West Suffolk, which formerly had a separate County Council). But East Suffolk took over, and most noteably had a big bust up with the former Eastern Counties at the end of the 1970s when they simply chucked out the network approach, lock stock and barrel. Things take time to create, and can be destroyed in an instant, the lesson of every war there's ever been. Ultimately rural public transport survives because there is public support for it. We have become so used to the Government taking everything over in the last century, that we've forgotten the basic lesson of life that self help is the best (and ultimately only) help. Essex CC don't support buses out of charity, they do it because it's what their public expect (even demand). And why, because the County Council have built up that support over decades. And when Herts cut their support, the public took over. The Operators were able to have that trust. In both counties (as Norfolk and Cambs also appreciate, reluctantly) the transport strategy doesn't work without buses. Not in Suffolk, at least not in any meaningful way, beyond mere empty words. So Suffolk simply don't have that resilience to fall back on. Somehow it has to be created. Sorry. Moaning, however loudly, alone won't cut the mustard. It's just disembodied voices crying in the wilderness.

    1. You forgot to mention one thing about Herts most of the towns are under Arriva /Centrebus and Uno so it is easier to deal with the council.Only one rep standing in for the company.

  7. Thomas browne) Go Ahead haven't really gone ahead with Anglian. More like go down the drain. I suspect they might sell Anglian to someone else to put some money in the bank if 'Go Ahead' are having money issues. That's the problem when big companies take over 9 times out of 10 they ruin everything. I feel sorry for anglian's former reputation, their employee's and their customers.

    1. Anglian is losing money hand over fist. If anyone approached Go-Ahead to take Anglian over you would see Go-Ahead galloping off to Dereham whooping like cowboys. Wrong choice of word perhaps but I did think the latest Anglian uniform would come with branded stetsons!

      I sense there are seismic activities going on behind the scenes at the moment which i wouldn't like to speculate on right now, but I do know announcements and registrations planned for this week have been put on hold due to developments. I will keep my ear firmly to the ground and although i can;t get out I know i can rely on my contacts to let me know. We all knew eventually everything would come to a head, and I think this is it. Watch this space with interest.

    2. Should have remained independent. The big company messed up that lovely company big time

    3. A lovely company that sold out, took the money and run. The ex owner obviously has a bob or two given his shiny new buses. Off he goes again fleecing the public, who will he sell this one to?

    4. Hang on - shiny new buses? Who are you talking about? The independent with the newest buses is Sanders! Apart from BB14, which was a tender requirement the newest bus BorderBus have is 4 years old, and in E200 terms that's really at least double for any other vehicle. Beestons don't have a bus under 10 years old now to my knowledge. Simonds have got a few newish single deckers but that's about it!

      Just because a vehicle looks well cared for and is well maintained doesn't make it new.

      However I sense a personal vendetta against the ex owner of Anglian, who I would not regard as fleecing the public. You obviously don't credit the public with much intelligence, as continuing increases in load and revenue figures suggest the public are quite happy with what is being provided.

      Perhaps you could come out from under the cloak of anonymity so those you freely criticise have the opportunity to know who is making the allegations - if you have the courage that is!

    5. Maybe it was the tool that Go Ahead appointed to 'fix the problem' that was the cause of the decline?

    6. It can only be a matter of time before this rotting corpse of what used to be a much loved bus company dissappears . With the sometimes seamingly suicidal decisions made since Go ahead took over it has turned into a downward spiral which has now got so out of controll it will be impossible to recover from. RIP Anglian it is a shame to see what so many people worked so hard to build up destroyed.

  8. There are very major problems with bus service in the East and it is made worse that there are in most areas few if any rail services
    What we have is the councils managing decline rather than anything else. A further problem is how can you manage something when you have no responsibility for it well other than a handful of subsidised journeys. Much of the subsidised journeys is wasteful and inefficient and of little real use. So the councils have little if any real understanding of what the actual needs of the bus users are

    I am not sure that putting service under the control of an elected mayor for a region will work neither. The East is not London where London is a single entity the East is not. AS better approach would be for the district councils to have the responsibility for the local bus service with SCC have responsibility for longer distance service and where service cross county boundaries . It is a difficult area when it comes to budgets but as in say Suffolk bus services naturally have a market town as a hub the district councils would have a better understanding of the local routes. The main problem is that they show little interest in developing new routes

    The other big issue is of funding. Personally I thing pensioners would pay a small annual charge for the pass if it were actually invested in improved local town services and not council quangos.
    A simple approach would be to link it to the pensioners tax rate so say the passes have a nominal value of £200 a pension that paid no tax would not pay for the pass , A 20% tax payer £40 Another way of raising revenues would be to change the current free school transport system which is very expensive and unfair so a new system could be every child pays for three first 2 or 3 miles. Coupled with that could be the school ticked could allow for discounted travel locally which could also encourage them yo use public transport when they leave school

    1. Perhaps luckily I don't live in Suffolk any more. Would I trust SCC with my money? I think the problem is as much attitudes as much as (or even more than) money. Do you still have ration books up there? It sounds like it. It's about time Suffolk emerged from the 1950s and this "you'll get what you're given, and like it or lump it" attitude. The mantras of the modern world (yes, there is a world we can learn from beyond the Suffolk shore) are choice and equality of opportunity for everyone. The job of Government is to help, nor hinder, their citizens, and that includes protect the environment for future generations by enabling everyone to make the best travel choices, and working with people (which includes their citizens and the providers) to ensure the car less aren't disadvantaged. It needs hard sustained work (not laziness), imagination and creativity. They are judged by results. Fine words make no meal. Suffolk claim to be an example Of what exactly? A bad example?

      I have no trouble with profit-driven companies, in buses or for anything else. Without profits, nothing survives. And good customer service is the key driver of profits. (Just look at anything American). Too often it's the rest of us: and specifically "the authorities" of all types working to their own private agenda, that have no idea what serving the customer is, and perhaps not even who the customer is. We need a revolution.

  9. Ben) Below is taken from anglian's website - funny how it's near impossible (if possible) to find on their website. I have a Google search for anglian bus so I get an email for new news about them. The link the page is on isn't even visible when you floor the linked they say it's on. See below:

    Service Changes - 24th July 2016
    The changes affect services: 7, 60H, 60S, 61, 82, 83, 84, 87, 88/X88, 88A, 90, BH272 and BH274

    There will be several service changes coming into effect from Sunday 24th July 2016.

    Revised timetables will be uploaded to the website shortly and paper copies will be available during w/c 18th July.

    anglianbus 7

    Great Yarmouth - Yarmouth Rd - Norwich

    This service will be replaced by Konectbus 7 which will operate the same route and also serve Postwick P&R. Buses used on this service will be nearly new double deck buses with free WiFi.

    Anglianbus 7A (Norwich - East Norfolk Sixth Form) will continue to operate.

    anglianbus 60H

    Beccles - Halesworth

    This service will operate to a revised timetable with less journeys reflecting demand.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 60S

    Beccles - Southwold

    This service will operate to a revised timetable with less journeys reflecting demand.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 61

    Gt Yarmouth - Lowestoft - Kessingland - Southwold

    This will reinstate the link between Magdalen Estate and Barrack Estate in Great Yarmouth as well as connecting them to the James Paget Hospital and the east coast.

    The section between Kessingland and Southwold will be withdrawn due to the level of competition making this commercially unviable. This is not a decision that has been made lightly. Passengers should use BorderBus 146 or First 99 from 25th July 2016.

    Passengers wishing to continue their journey to Norwich should change buses at Great Yarmouth onto Konectbus 7. Through tickets will be available.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 82

    Beccles Town Service

    Unfortunately this service is not commercially viable so will operate on Fridays only for market day. This is not a decision that has been taken lightly.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 83/84

    Harleston - Norwich

    Revised timetables in operation to give a better spread of service throughout the day.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 87/88/X88/88A

    Norwich - Poringland - Bungay - Halesworth (87/88/X88)
    Halesworth - Southwold (88A)
    Following customer feedback services 87/88/X88 will operate from Norwich Bus Station via St Stephens Street [BQ] outside WHSmiths.

    Service 88A early and late journeys will be withdrawn due to low passenger numbers.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus 90

    Corton - Saint Felix School

    This service is no longer commercially viable. Please contact the school for alternatives.

    anglianbus BH272

    Blythburgh - Bungay High School

    Minor changes to the morning journey.

    + Timetable coming soon

    anglianbus BH274

    Halesworth - Bungay High School

    This service will be operated by a different operator (tbc) under contract to Suffolk County Council.

    Bus 5

    Shotesham - Framingham Earl High School (pm only)

    This service will be operated by a different operator (tbc) under contract to Norfolk County Council.