Concern as bus routes axed

A BUS operator has axed a number of routes in east Suffolk because it claims they are no longer commercially viable.Last night First Eastern Counties announced it will withdraw three of its commercially operated routes south of Ipswich from December 31.

BUS operator First Eastern Counties is to axe some routes out of Ipswich because it claims they are no longer commercially viable.

The company has announced it will withdraw three of its commercially-operated routes from December 31.

Those affected are the 95 service between Ipswich and Capel St Mary, the 96 between Ipswich and Cattawade and the 97 between Ipswich and Shotley.

Trevor Garrod, chairman of the East Suffolk Travellers Association said any cuts in bus services were regrettable.

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“As these were commercial routes we would now expect the county council to step in and put them out to tender to see if someone else can run them more efficiently and effectively then First Eastern Counties,” he said.

Philip Seago, operations director with First, said the withdrawals were a business decision and made because the routes were no longer commercially justified.

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He said: “We regret being forced to withdraw those services which we have run for several years. However they have become commercially non-sustainable - partly because of low cost competition on the routes, with some inevitable duplication by Suffolk County Council contracted routes.

“As the losses have been building up towards £120,000 per annum we have had no alternative - they are simply not sustainable. However we believe the county council has plans to replace them.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for roads and transport, said he was concerned about the impact on affected communities and was urgently investigating what alternative provision could be available.

He said: “I am very aware of the importance of local bus services and we are looking hard at what can be done to help, taking into account the financial implications for the county.

“I am meeting with First's senior management and directors to discuss the future of the company's operations in Suffolk at a time when changes in the regulation of bus operators are being discussed.”

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