A village resident is calling for a rural bus route to be reinstated after it was reduced to school days only due to lack of demand. 

David Flannigan, who lives in Norton near Bury St Edmunds, said the reduction of the Stephensons 384/5 route between Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds, which took place last September, has left him and others feeling isolated.

The 384/5 route now only runs during school term time, which Mr Flannigan said causes issues for him as he volunteers at Mind charity shop in Bury St Edmunds four days a week and is a supervisor on Sundays.

"The loss of the 385 bus means during non-school times I will be unable to volunteer which will affect my mental health," he said.

"Since losing my wife and son I felt isolated and depressed. Volunteering at Mind has given me back my independence and my ability to mix with people within my community." 

He said he also fears for other villagers who may now be less able to get into town to socialise, shop or have appointments.

"Many residents in Norton and between Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds are elderly people, who rely on this service to get their shopping, meet up with friends, go to hospital or doctors appointments and get out of their homes," he said.

"The 385 stops at West Suffolk Hospital meaning they don't have to rely on lifts from family members who work. They have their independence." 

He said the reduction also impacts teenagers who used the bus during summer for part time work, as well as nurses who may now struggle to get to work. 

"Suffolk Council wants us out of our cars and off our roads. But this is forcing residents back into their cars not out of them," he said.

"Our local country road is already experiencing an increase in traffic. The Parish Council is looking at a crossing for school children and residents as we now can't cross the road in safety." 

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson said the 385 is a commercial bus route and Stephenson decided to reduce it due to it becoming unviable. 

"We understand residents’ concerns, but, as with every service, the operator can only justify running a route when they have sufficient passenger numbers," they added.

Bill Hiron, managing director at Stephensons, said: "Unfortunately numbers using it meant that it was running at a considerable loss in school holidays and on Saturdays. 

"On school term days, the service is largely sustained due to students using it to/from school.

"Unfortunately, whilst people may want the service, there are not enough using it to pay for it."