Let me explain the circumstances. A very dear friend of mine, all 90 years of her moved from Wickham Market to Halesworth last weekend to be closer to her family. That left another dear friend, a mere spring chicken of 85 pining for her best friend, so yours truly has taken it upon himself to ferry the two between each other so their friendship can endure. On Thursday I took said youngster over to Halesworth for 10am, intending to pick her up at 3pm. I had to go to Norwich so decided to do it by bus from Halesworth, instead of driving to Ditchingham as normal, to see how easy it would be now Konect have deserted Suffolk, to be replaced by a very limited First replacement. Remember I needed to be back for 3pm. Halesworth to Norwich is around 25 miles, not much in East Anglian terms.
There was a 1034 to Bungay, where I would now have to change for a bus to Norwich. In these days of "guaranteed connections" where the bus simply changes route number, to have to wait 20 minutes for a connection on what had been a through route for decades is a rude wake up call. Anyway the 99A turned up, ironically with a former Anglian driver at the wheel, and off to Bungay we trundled.
|First 44533 at Halesworth|
|First B7tl 32214 at Bungay|
I only had to nip to the bank in Norwich. To get back to Halesworth for 3pm I would in Anglian days have caught the 1400 88, arriving in Halesworth at 1504. Not now. To go back the way I'd come and be back in Halesworth for 3pm I'd need to stay on the President, go straight back to Bungay, and arrive in Halesworth at 1323. The next connecting bus would leave Norwich at 1445, the connection arriving in Halesworth at 1603, having picked up the notorious angels at Bungay High on the way.
This meant having to find an alternative. After a rushed lunch I hot footed it to Norwich Bus Station and caught the 1315 X2 to Beccles. I maintain these nearly 11yo B9's are still the best buses around our area by some margin.
|First B9 37576 on the X2 at Beccles|
|Borderbus BB07 BUS at Beccles Old Market.|
This got me thinking. I ask Suffolk and Norfolk Councils this - is there any reason why services you fund shouldn't accept the tickets of any operator, so passengers can use alternative routes and operators in these days of ever more service cuts? Simply give all the services you fund a prefix number, eg 8, so for example the 522 would become 822, and evening 40's become 840. That would make identification easy, and would not only help and encourage bus use, but might just sting the operators to take integrated ticketing seriously, because it has to happen if the industry is to survive.
I have had some positive news this evening regarding Konect. It would appear changes in the management structure are reaping rewards. Vehicle reliability has improved beyond measure it seems, and a new cleaning manager has transformed the appearance of the interiors. Nothing will undo the monumental cock up that was made of Anglian, but if a phoenix can rise from the ashes that will be good for passengers. No one operator should have a monopoly in a privatised industry, as East Suffolk is finding out. Different if everything is regulated as that operator is held accountable, but when little things like 40 min gaps in the service from Poringland to Norwich start creeping in - between 0820 - 0900 to be precise, then it's only a matter of time before the rot sets in. The same old story, once the opposition has been seen off services start getting scaled back. So I genuinely hope Konect come back strongly, as we know First aren't eager to resurrect or develop anything, so it will takes others to give them a run for their money.
Thanks to those who have contacted me - it really is appreciated. Back when I have something to say!