Ipswich Buses have announced the appointment of a new Managing Director. Heath Williams is taking over from interim MD Rob Bellamy, who succeeded Jeremy Cooper, who is of course now MD at Go East, of which more later.
Heath Williams is vastly experienced in the bus industry, having held director-level positions at Stagecoach and Arriva. He has worked in areas such as Wales, Lancashire, London and the Home Counties over a career spanning over 30 years, and is, according to a friend who has worked under him, a "top bloke". It also turns out Mr Williams grew up in the same area as yours truly, although we were blissfully unaware of each other! However, when I approach him for an interview once he's settled in we will have plenty of common things to talk about already, so I'm looking forward to meeting him and finding out his vision for Ipswich.
Good news!!! New buses are coming to Great Yarmouth. Well when I say "new" I mean new as in never been to Yarmouth before. They are in fact 5 17yo Volvo B7tl ALX400's from First Manchester. To give you an idea of how out of date they are they have Euro 2 engines, which will shortly be illegal in London, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds and York! Yet again Eastern Counties get the outcasts from other areas. Must be great to feel valued!
And so to Go Ahead. I'll start with the good news - if you live on Chambers routes 753 or 84 your service is going to see more journeys, with the 753 going half hourly between Colchester and Sudbury, and the 84 having 7 extra Saturday journeys. That is good to see and I really hope it works out. You can see all the details of changes to the Chambers network here.
However if you live in the areas served by Hedingham, Konect, and especially the former Anglian routes it's not so good news. Konect are revising their fares, which of course means increasing them. However, whereas all single and return fares are going up, the price of a day ranger is dropping from £9 to £8. Of course you can't go anywhere near as far as you could a couple of years ago when routes such as the 60, 61 and 2 were in full swing but it's something. And excitingly the cost of a Norwich Cityzone Day Ticket is being reduced from £5.50 to £4.50. Sounds good - except there's a catch - I quote from the Konect website;
"Please note the following places will no longer be in the
; Barford, Panxworth, South Walsham, Pilson Green, Shotesham, Saxlingham
Nethergate, Hempnall, Hempnall Green, Topcroft, Topcroft Street,
Rockland St Mary, Surlingham, Claxton and the whole of route 53C. This
is not a decision that has been made lightly but will ensure the
commercial viability of the Norwich network. Norwich cityZone
weekly/10trip/monthly/annual/termly/3termly bus passes bought before 21
May for these places will still be accepted until the ticket expires"
So basically if you live in the sticks you get hammered again - so much for encouraging bus use. Speaking of which if you use the former Anglian 87 you're in for a shock too If you live in Stoke Holy Cross your service is being more than halved, only being served now by the hourly Norwich - Bungay service which is being re-numbered 87, and there are some big PM gaps. If you live in Poringland Upgate you are losing your bus altogether so will have to use First's 40. Still no fast service from Halesworth/Bungay into Norwich and it can surely only be a matter of time before First extend the X41 to Halesworth and finish off the 88 once and for all. More details here.
Down in Essex Hedingham are taking over some routes in Clacton due to First's decision to close the town's depot, but at the same time are also planning service cuts in the same area. As I type Hedingham have launched a survey to determine the future of the Brightingsea - Colchester 87 (must be something about that number). You can see that survey by clicking here. You can also see details of the cuts to Hedingham services by clicking here.
First are making minor changes in the Yarmouth/Lowestoft areas but nothing dramatic - the open top Yarmouth Seafront service is returning this year, unlike the Ipswich Buses open top service which isn't!
And that's just about it.