New bus service could help residents in rural areas

Two new Katch buses are set to hit the roads of east Suffolk soon

Two new buses are set to hit the roads of east Suffolk soon - Credit: Suffolk County Council

A new taxi-bus service is to be launched which could help residents in some of Suffolk's more rural areas. 

Katch is a new, on demand electric vehicle service, which is set to be launched by Suffolk County Council in April this year. 

The service will travel from the train station at Campsea Ashe through stops in Wickham Market and on to Framlingham. 

The scheme will serve fixed bus stops, initially booked 24 hours in advance by telephone.

Suffolk County Council councillor Alexander Nicoll said the bid would be put in as soon as possible.

Alexander Nicoll deputy cabinet member for transport at Suffolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Alexander Nicoll, deputy cabinet member for transport at Suffolk County Council and ward councillor for Wickham Market has been taking the lead on the project. 

"It is a really good project," said Mr Nicoll. 

"It's simplicity itself."

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Two 16-seater, electric buses will be used for Katch; both have full disabled access. 

Once the pilot starts the bus will be taking passengers seven days a week with a return ticket costing £7. 

The pilot had been intended to start in January, however, because of the coronavirus pandemic it was deemed that the buses could be put to better use.

Katch buses have arrived in Suffolk

Katch buses will begin life transporting coronavirus vaccine patients - Credit: Suffolk County Council

The buses are set to begin being used to transport people in rural parts of east Suffolk down to the Saxmundham Health Centre for coronavirus vaccinations from Monday. 

"I am delighted that as we already had the buses on our books that we have been able to use them to help people particularly in our more isolated rural areas," said Mr Nicoll. 

"I am pleased that we have been able to get something back for Katch before it takes up the role for which it is intended."

Mr Nicoll has long been trying to find a solution to the misnaming of Wickham Market railway station, which often leaves travellers stuck in Campsea Ashe not realising they are several miles away from their desired destination. 

"Hopefully Katch can help rather than rely on the good neighbours of the people in Campsea Ashe ferrying people through to Wickham Market," said Mr Nicoll. 

If the pilot is successful it is hoped that the scheme can be rolled out elsewhere, particularly in areas where commercial bus routes have gone. 

"This type of flexible and green alternative will hopefully help other communities in Suffolk before too long," said Mr Nicoll. 

To book Katch call 01728 554455.

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