Now if I was being lazy I'd use Suffolk Links both ways, which I'd have to do on a Wednesday or Saturday anyway, but since today was Tuesday I could patronise our local four times a week service bus to Saxmundham and continue to Wickham from there. Just one problem - since the latest round of First cuts it is now impossible to get from Saxmundham to Wickham Market (20 min journey) and back in the two and a half hour window available. So this is how my journey took shape.
I started off on the 196 to Saxmundham. Operated by Stowmarket Minibus & Coach Hire this has to be just about the smallest service bus going, a 14 seater Transit minibus - slide your own door open. However I have always enjoyed using it. We used to have a really good Romanian driver who you could time your watch by, would get out and help the old ladies with their shopping trolleys and stop wherever you wanted. However he has left to go trucking and been replaced by a Cypriot driver who is a character and a half, you can time your watch by him, he gets out to help old ladies with their trolleys and will stop anywhere for you. If all bus drivers were like him there would be no cars on the road. I took a picture on my return which Lachio (probably awful spelling but that is what he said his name was) was more than happy to wait for me to take.
|Stowmarket Minibus & Coach Hire Ford Transit AF59 HRR on the 196 to Leiston|
|PF Travel Mercedes Sprinter Y614 VOH at Framlingham|
So I got to Wickham Market ok to get my rescription but how to get back. No 64 back to Sax in time to connect with the 196 and no 62 either. Only one thing for it - Suffolk Links to the rescue. I had initially booked to go straight back to my village, but had second thoughts, changed it to Sax so I could both pop into Tesco and patronise the 196 home. I wasn't expecting a very round the houses journey to Sax though and had to do a trolley dash round Tesco Dale Winton in his Supermarket Sweep days would have been impressed by. But I got out of Tesco in the nick of time for Lachio to pick me up and so everything worked out ok. A bit of an expedition though just to get a prescription.
|Suffolk Links Peugeot WA64 BYJ at Wickham Market|
Secondly I'm also fortunate in that I have a bus pass. not fortunate as to the reason why as my eyes are giving me serious grief again at the moment, but had I had to pay today I would have had three separate fares - a return from my village to Saxmundham on the 196, then a single to Wickham Market on the 62, then another single back to Saxmundham on Suffolk Links, yet all three services are sponsored by the Council. When I was in Stornoway in May, where all services are sponsored by the Western Isles Council, any ticket is valid on any bus, so you can get a return to somewhere with one company and use that return to get back on another. Why don't we have that here? Why isn't there a day ticket that is valid on all Council sponsored services including pre-booked Links services? Why isn't acceptance of that ticket a condition of tender? Might get a few more bums on seats then. As I see it right now there is no incentive provided anywhere by anyone to encourage people to use buses more not less. A shame as these little buses are worth their weight in gold, and the drivers are just brilliant.