A single from Norwich to Boston, where I'd catch the bus from to the small village of Friskney, was £51. Yes £51! So I got my fare splitting head on (btw I recently co-wrote an article on fare splitting for the excellent Dawlish Beach website - to see the article click here), and by splitting the fare at Peterborough got it down to £29. Then I had one of those light bulb moments. If I had to get the bus either side of the train journey why couldn't I get the bus all the way? Turns out I could, so that is what I did.
I started in Halesworth catching the 0631 Konect service 87 to Norwich, which goes via everywhere. 90 mins Halesworth - Norwich isn't going to encourage anyone, as was proved with only 5 passengers, including myself on the entire trip. However, it was one of the last surviving ex Anglian drivers I know, which helped. The Scania Omnilink, now 7 years old was ok and did the job.
|Konectbus 454 Scania Omnilink YT11 LVF at Halesworth|
|First Excel 33813 YX63 YKA at Norwich Bus Station|
|Clear windows make such a difference|
But arrive at Kings Lynn we did, and I transferred onto one of only 2 surviving routes still operated by Stagecoach out of the Norfolk town - the 505 to Spalding. Another E400, but this one had, in my view, far more comfortable seats, didn't rattle, and gave a better ride. Why this is I don't know, but there has to be a reason.
|Stagecoach 10010, E400 AE12 CKA at Kings Lynn Bus Station|
|Now they are bus shelter seats!|
|Fowlers of Spalding Leyland Olympian L276 YEY|
|Brylaine Buses BMC Falcon BX55 NZU at Spalding Bus Station|
|Stagecoach 16914 East Lancs Volvo B7tl FX54 AOD at Boston Bus Station|
However, it did highlight one of the reasons bus travel is declining. Had I not liked the car I couldn't have got home by bus. Nowhere near, in fact. I know my journey was an extreme example, but it is typical of the way it is outside big towns and cities. You can get there by bus, but not necessarily home unless you leave at silly early times. Take Southwold - the place has been packed in recent weeks, but if you fancy a day trip from Norwich the last Konect service to Norwich leaves at 1658, the last Borderbus service even earlier at 1645. Where is the incentive there if you have to start packing up halfway through the afternoon? This issue really has to be addressed by both operators and local authorities if the downward turn of bus travel is to be reversed. Bus travel is brilliant, it really is, as Saturday proved, but if you can't get back without cutting your day short it's simply shooting itself in the foot.