MP's fury at bus service delays

By Liz HearnshawAN MP has called for answers from a bus company whom he accused of “utterly unacceptable treatment” to elderly passengers.David Ruffley, the Bury St Edmunds MP, said he had received complaints from disgruntled constituents regarding First Eastern Counties' services in the area and demanded urgent improvements.

By Liz Hearnshaw

AN MP has called for answers from a bus company whom he accused of “utterly unacceptable treatment” to elderly passengers.

David Ruffley, the Bury St Edmunds MP, said he had received complaints from disgruntled constituents regarding First Eastern Counties' services in the area and demanded urgent improvements.

The MP, who claimed some elderly passengers had been forced to wait 45 minutes for a bud service scheduled to run every 15 minutes, has now written to John Pope, managing director of First Eastern Counties, for an explanation.


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“Many of my constituents who rely on these bus services are being badly let down by First Eastern Counties. Improvements need to be made - and fast,” said Mr Ruffley.

“My constituents deserve a better service, so I will be keeping up the pressure on the bus company to put things right as a matter or urgency.”

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In his letter to Mr Pope, Mr Ruffley said he has been “inundated” with complaints regarding both the reliability of the service and its new timetables.

“Not only are my constituents in some areas of town unhappy about the new timetables, but many of the services are unreliable, often leaving passengers stranded or having to wait 45 minutes for services that are scheduled at 15 minute intervals,” it added.

“In consequence, many of my older constituents, who frankly deserve to be treated with more care and respect, have contacted me to express their concerns. I believe this is utterly unacceptable treatment of my constituents.”

Tom Oxley, spokesman for First Eastern Counties, said the problems with services had been due to mechanical difficulties with several vehicles.

“We know there have been delays and there have been cancelled services. This is far from what we want as the most important thing to people, after safety, is reliability,” he added.

“The engineering situation is at the top of our minds and we are doing everything we can to solve it. We would like to apologise to those who have had to wait and let them know that things can improve quickly.

“The timetables have changed recently and this has been designed to improve our services, especially on the town routes.

“But if a bus is not fit mechanically, we cannot send it out. Sometime a backlog of repairs can occur, but these will be fixed and sent out as soon as possible.”

Mr Ruffley has called a public meeting at the Corn Exchange, Bury St Edmunds, at 6.30pm on October 1 to discuss the town's bus services.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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