Friday, 30 October 2015

A Rare Passenger Victory

While browsing the other blogs last night I was drawn to something Clive posted on Ipswich Bus Blog regarding restoration of a service in North Ipswich. Last year service 19 to Dale Hall and Castle Hill was curtailed, leaving many elderly residents with a 500 yard walk to the nearest bus stop through one of the less desirable areas of Ipswich. To say they were nonplussed is an understatement, and the residents were vociferous in their protests. However the protests fell on stubbornly deaf ears, and only a few weeks ago I heard Jeremy Cooper, MD of Ipswich Buses basically say sorry but tough on a phone in on Radio Suffolk when asked about that route.

So the local MP for North Ipswich, Dan Poulter got involved, and surprise surprise all of a sudden they can run a bus service to serve those elderly residents again. Initially only one each way a day but it is certainly better than nothing. What those residents of Stratford Court and others nearby need to do is use that bus as often as possible, persuading those who never used it before to try it out, so that it makes sense to restore the old frequency again. Well done to the residents for not giving up, and well done to Dan Poulter for taking an interest in a topic most MP's shy away from. Shows it can be done. I wonder when the last time Therese Coffey MP caught a bus was.

Whilst on the subject of restoring services I had a meeting with First Eastern Counties on Tuesday to discuss the restoration of connections at Saxmundham for primarily train services, but also for those in Kelsale who travel into Saxmundham on the 196 for onward bus connections to Ipswich and Aldburgh. I suggested simply moving most off peak services on the 64 by 30 mins would achieve all objectives. It's important to remember that enough time has to be allowed for late running, both buses in the morning and trains in the evening so I felt a 20 - 25 min connection window was prudent bearing in mind neither bus or train in the area is a 10 min service! I have also asked that the timetable for the 62 which runs between Saxmundham/Framlingham/Wickham Market and Woodbridge be included in the 64 timetable so passengers can see all available services on the route.

I was assured that if practically possible the changes would be incorporated, but I am aware the retimings may cause a couple of planning headaches regarding school services so we can only keep our fingers crossed. However I know First are aware that good connections mean increased patronage so I am hopeful of a positive outcome. My thanks to First for allowing me the opportunity to put the suggestions forward and I will await with interest the outcome.

Monday sees the latest cuts by Go-Ahead come into force, and while in a chilly Yarmouth yesterday I took the opportunity to snap a destination screen that after tomorrow (Saturday) will be no more. Not only is the 61 disappearing from Yarmouth, being replaced by the extended 7, but Kessingland Beach will no longer be a terminus, with a few Southwold services serving the Beach en route. It does make you wonder just how much more Go-Ahead can cut now without sinking completely.

Angliian 108 sits at Market Gates with a soon to be obsolete route in Yarmouth and destination screen


  1. It's not unique. A bit of Essex news: similarly, after the commercial Chelmsford 47 which conveniently meanders around the northern estates before going to the hospital was withdrawn by First, with the elderly disproportionately affected, local uproar was taken up by the Councillors and the MP. (Essex people seem to like their uproar - see below). The County Council are a bit more proactive though (well, at least where politics is involved), so it's withdrawn one side of the weekend, and restarts to a slightly reduced frequency the other side, sponsored by the Council Council (though without the formerly limited evening service, which wasn't what the protests were about) and run by, you've guessed it, successful tenderer First.

    My local 73 is even more amusing. To save money local independent Stephensons took it over by arrangement from a sponsored to a commercial service (you've heard that one before) but in doing their usual clever trick (now being done with First's withdrawn 132) of amalgamating it with their existing services they withdrew the peak services and missed out a few communities along the route. So the workers as well as the elderly were in uproar this time. After a couple of months they decided it wasn't doing them any good and are shortly to withdraw the lot. So more petitions and protests later the County Council rides to the rescue (again, they can't make a habit of this, surely) and tenders back to their original (full) service, with their new best friends, First????, winning again. Miracles do happen (almost).

    Looking around though it does seem that village routes not between major towns and urban routes that aren't x to town centre, more or less direct, just don't cut the mustard any more, for any operator. But with things like 40% budget cuts in the offing, new funding models are essential, and I think parish and town councils are going to have to step up to the plate, sooner or later. Just don't leave it too late.

  2. Andrew Kleissner31 October 2015 at 08:11

    I wouldn't hold your breath too much on the reintroduction of Ipswich 19 (which used to have a stop right outside my house!) There has been nothing yet published on the Traffic Commissioners' website so we'll have another 10 days before we can look again. On the other hand we've had two leaflets through the door, one from IB promoting the enhanced service 9/10 and another from the politicians crowing about the 19!

    So far there seems to be some haziness as to the exact route and stopping points, but what I've heard is that the journeys will use a bus and driver that would otherwise be laying-over after the morning peak. I don't know how true it is. In any case it won't be much use to the bus-pass folk unless it runs after, rather than before, 9.30 am.

    While I agree with your comments on "use it or lose it", I also know that residents are still hoping for a restoration of a "proper" service and are annoyed that this can't be done although IB are spending serious money upgrading the 9/10, presumably as a pre-emptive strike against First trying to muscle in on the route.

  3. Andrew Kleissner31 October 2015 at 10:11

    PS Seeing that IB are owned by Ipswich Borough Council, I presume that issues of "unfair competition" would prevent said Council from subsidising its routes? And I doubt if Suffolk County Council (popularly perceived to be anti-Ipswich) would do so either.

    1. I thought when it came to public transport Suffolk County Council were popularly perceived to be anti-Suffolk.....

  4. Maybe BorderBus will reinstate the old 601.