Monday 28 January 2019
Konect Abandon Suffolk Once And For All
It gives me no pleasure to say I really should be hanging out giant "I told you so" banners. In fact I'm angry, really angry. Angry at those prats who ridiculed me when I said Konect would be cutting more routes, and incandescent with fury with Go East, who have single handedly destroyed bus services in North and East Suffolk, and much of East Norfolk too. There cannot have been a similar example of such inept and uncaring management of a previously flourishing bus company in modern times. But the post mortum can wait - this is what Konect are getting rid of now.
The 88 will be scrapped between Norwich and Bungay from SATURDAY March 2nd. However, due to it being sponsored, the section between Bungay and Southwold will continue until March 31st. Passengers from Halesworth travelling to Norwich during March will need to change buses and pay again on First's X41. Konect have said they will be charging reduced fares so through passengers won't be penalised, which shows how much they charge now, and they wonder why patronage has fallen. After 1st April a new operator, I presume First, will take over the route. Also going are the 272 school service, and the 90, running between Halesworth/Southwold and Beccles, another sponsored service. My guess is Borderbus might be very interested in that one.
You can read the full announcement here, but I simply must reproduce the reasons Konect give for the pull out, blaming everyone, even the passengers, but themselves.
The reason that we are withdrawing these routes is that they continue to run at a loss. We have sustained losses of several million pounds in our Beccles based operation in the last few years. This has been because of the loss of contracts to other companies, the decline in the rural bus market and high operating costs and poor reliability which we have been unable to address at a small operation that is remote from our main business. We have also suffered from direct competition from First bus, whom most users now seem to prefer. We hope that First will have the good grace to step in and provide the extra facilities such as Sunday buses and the through route to Halesworth that we have hitherto provided, and not just focus on the profitable sections of route in Bungay and Poringland.
As yet First are to make official comment, although I know they have been looking for some time how they can source the extra resources needed to extend the X41 to fill the gap left by Konect.
I was reminded of the front cover of Buses Magazine a mere 4 years ago - how things have changed since then.
Go Ahead certainly did transform the independent. Into dust. Avada Kedavra, as Voldemort would have said.
I'll have more analysis of this announcement and possible repercussions for passengers in due course. Right now pity the customers on the 88, and especially those drivers at Beccles who have stuck it out until the bitter end. They deserved so much better, and I hope they find new jobs quickly.