The obvious place to start was the new 61A between Lowestoft and Kessingland. I had a simple question - why? Dave explained that it was purely a question of punctuality and reliability, and it was to ensure those boarding at Lowestoft didn't have to wait ages in all weathers because the Acle Straight, or Southtown Rd had problems delaying the through services. Can't argue with that if you want to guarantee you stay in front of the 99. I need to correct one thing though - the buses being used on the 61A are not the same ones coming off the 62 as I suggested - the vehicles coming off the 62 are needed for the enhanced Southwold service, and the buses for the 61A are coming from elsewhere. One point of note is one of the 61A's will be a double decker, which will do Pakefield School AM and PM, and the 61A in between. This releases a double decker from the 7/61 to the 88's, and means the 7/61 will now be almost completely single decker operated, with the exception of a couple of positioning journeys late afternoon.
|All change on the 7/61. Anglian 109 at Yarmouth today.|
Dave explained that the 62 between Kessingland and Halesworth, which is my main grievance was never a Council sponsored route, and lack of patronage has made that part of the route impossible. The section that is sponsored is the Halesworth - Beccles section, which unfortunately doesn't include the Durban Close/Beddingfield Crescent/Dukes Drive part of Halesworth, which is an adequate explanantion, but I doubt will do much to appease those affected.
Moving to the 80/81's, and I expressed my approval of the new fast service between Bungay and Beccles, which I think has been needed for sometime. One of the reasons for this is that residents of Bungay now have a fast alternative to the supermarkets of Beccles, rather than being stuck with the Co-op in Bungay. However, when I brought up the problem of the late afternoon connection at Beccles between the 81 from Yarmouth and the 60H to Haleswroth I was thanked for noticing the problem, but told until the next round of service changes a change in times would be impossible due to the cost of registering the change and the number of potential passengers concerned - ie me! Clearly neither Anglian or Suffolk County Council think it a worthwhile exercise to PROMOTE that 60H/81 link at Beccles, in an effort to gain more passengers, assuming that all residents of Halesworth want to go to Southwold if they're going to the coast.
I asked why the Bungay 60's terminated at JPH going out but started at Lowestoft coming back. Apparently operationally it was impossible to have the Bungay 60's starting back from JPH as well as terminating there and it was thought that customers would be happier with a direct bus there to ensure their appointment and then stagger the journey home. This, ironically will mean passengers having to wait in all weathers at Lowestoft, unlike the lucky and highly valuable Kessingland passengers, who will have a bus on the stand virtually all the time.
I also asked why there was going to be a 90 min gap in buses to Halesworth from Norwich between 1400 - 1530. I was told the 1455 (formerly 1500) to Halesworth will now terminate at Bungay to operate a school journey and the 1530 X88 from Norwich to Halesworth only arrives a few minutes after the old 1500 anyway. This is actually true and just about makes sense.
That's just about it as far as the changes are concerned. I tried to get some fleet information regarding the new Scanias but didn't get very far. I can finally, though, put to bed the rumours about a 4th Scania coming up. There isn't a 4th Scania coming! It also seems likely the Tridents will hang around for a bit longer than first though as yes, they are going to Hedingham, but "eventually" was the word used.
I also met the new Operations Manager, Alastair Strong briefly. A beaming smile and handshake that could crush coconuts! A pleasure to meet you, Alastair and I hope it won't be too long before we can have a meeting ourselves to discuss the broader future of Anglian.
Once again my thanks to Dave Jordan for setting up the meeting, and although from a selfish point of view these changes aren't going to make my life easier in the slightest - in fact the opposite - at least I now know the thinking behind it.