Rural bus service axed after poor uptake

A BUS service to help people living in isolated parishes has been abandoned after a poor response from villagers.One volunteer driver spent six weeks helping to run the Wickham Hail and Ride service in villages near Woodbridge – but he only picked up one passenger and he resigned.

A BUS service to help people living in isolated parishes has been abandoned after a poor response from villagers.

One volunteer driver spent six weeks helping to run the Wickham Hail and Ride service in villages near Woodbridge - but he only picked up one passenger and he resigned.

There were three routes, the 187, 188 and 189 covering Stratford St Andrew, Great Glemham, Parham, Marlesford, Pettistree, Lower Ufford, Bromeswell, Melton, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Charsfield, Hoo, Letheringham, Easton, Lower Hacheston, Campsea Ashe, Tunstall and Blaxhall.

The aim was to bring travellers into Wickham Market or Woodbridge and give them enough time to shop, visit friends and keep appointments with a doctor, dentist etc.


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The scheme was funded by the county council and a grant from the Countryside Agency enabled the operators, Coastal Accessible Transport Service (CATS), to refurbish a former Sizewell B power station tour bus.

It is unclear why the service was so poorly supported. But villagers who were used to staying at home found it difficult to try something different and some parishes already had a transport infrastructure in place to cater for the needs of elderly and infirm people.

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This is not deterring CATS from hoping to launch new services. They want to provide a dial-a-ride service on Wednesdays from Wickham Market to the market at Saxmundham, and to start a tourist-based service operating between Saxmundham, Darsham, Dunwich and Minsmere.

Mike Cheeseman, manager of CATS, said they had four vehicles operating dial-a-ride services in Aldeburgh, Framlingham, Saxmundham, Leiston, Woodbridge and Wickham Market.

''We started the new service, 187, 188 and 189, but it was very much a trial to see if it would be successful and it proved not to be needed enough.

''There were only two regular users and that was it. It was not down to poor publicity, I have letters on file that had been sent to every parish telling them about it,'' said Mr Cheeseman.

CATS is seeking new volunteer drivers and anyone who would like to help should contact Mr Cheeseman on 01728 830516.

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