September 21 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Residents of part of the Castle Hill and Whitton estates in north west Ipswich are up in arms at the axeing of bus services to some roads in their part of the town.
The extension of Service 19 to Larchcroft Road was cut at the end of last month – leaving some residents feeling they have been left abandoned by council-owned Ipswich Buses.
The bus company has said that only a few passengers used that part of the service – it continues to run around Dales Road and Dales View Road – and that buses operating on the Nos 9 and 10 services nearby offered an alternative.
However Castle Hill Conservative councillor Chris Stewart said it was difficult for many of the older bus users to walk to the stops for the Nos 9 and 10 buses.
He said: “I know they say people can walk to those stops, but they are up to 400 metres away from homes and that is a long way for older people.
“It might be all right for those who are younger – but there is quite a high proportion of people living there who are quite elderly and this is no good for them.”
The issue was brought up at a recent meeting of the North Western Area Committee where there was a heated debate with an Ipswich Buses official.
Area committee chairman and Labour councillor Stephen Connelly said the authority was still talking to Ipswich Buses about bringing back buses to the Larchcroft Road area.
He said: “We were told that the cost of an extra bus on the service was £54,000 a year, and that on average there were only 3.75 passengers on each service in that part of the town.
“However it was a very important service for many people – for instance those who live at Stratford Court (sheltered housing). They would now have to walk to Congreve Road or Shakespeare Road to get a bus and that is a long way.”
The Star has heard from several passengers angry about the loss of the service.
Margaret Parry, of Larchcroft Close, said: “I have been told that the decision to close our stage of the No 19 bus route was based on a survey of the number of passengers using the route, and that numbers were insufficient to justify the service.
“I find this a mystery – when I have used the No 19 bus at any time of any day, including Saturdays, there have not been many empty seats.
“I have also noted that this change has been made during the summer, when, for those people prepared and physically able to tackle the trek to the nearest bus stop, the pavements are, hopefully, dry and not slippery.
“In winter months, in rain, ice and snow, the same people will probably not be able to venture out.”
No-one from Ipswich Buses was available to comment on the decision, but it is understood that further talks are expected soon.