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East Suffolk: Travellers association call for better links between train services and rural bus timetables

PUBLISHED: 16:45 14 January 2014

A train pulls out of Saxmundham Station - but should timetables be better connected to those of rural bus services?

A train pulls out of Saxmundham Station - but should timetables be better connected to those of rural bus services?

Councils should be “adequately resourced” to ensure bus services and train services link up, a transport lobby has claimed as part of an inquiry into so-called isolated communities.

The East Suffolk Travellers Association, an independent voluntary body for train and bus users in east Suffolk, said it was vital to have reliable train and bus services into the main centres of population as well as integration between train and bus or other road-based transport.

The comments were made in evidence to the Transport Select Committee, which had its first oral evidence session looking at rural transport.

Claire Haigh, chief executive of the campaign group Greener Journeys, told MPs yesterday that she welcomed the investigation by parliamentarians as it put the spotlight on people who were suffering from “transport poverty”.

She said: “I would say isolation is not just geographical. It is also socio-economic. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently reported that transport poverty is even more serious then fuel poverty.”

In its written evidence to the committee ahead of the sessions in parliament, the East Suffolk Travellers Association said that coastal areas had attracted retired people who become increasingly dependent on public transport.

It also said people of working age in the countryside often had to travel further to find work than in the days when most of them worked in agriculture and young people also had to travel further to school, college or training courses.

The group said that while buses now connected with trains at Halesworth, providing improved transport to and from Southwold and the Blyth Valley, there was scope for similar integrated for bus services to Leiston, Aldeburgh and possibly Framlingham.

It added: “It must be accepted that some bus services may require a modest subsidy and county councils must be adequately resourced for this.”

“The main problems facing integrated transport are that tenders for sponsored bus services are only effective for a year at a time; and from April to March, which is out of kilter with train operators whose timetables change in December and sometimes in May. Some harmonisation is needed here.”

The group added: “People are also more likely to change from cars to public transport if they can rely on the services - especially bus services - being guaranteed for more than 12 months.”

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