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Huge fall in number of people using buses in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 05:07 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 07:50 08 May 2019

Bus usage in Suffolk is at a 10 year low. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Bus usage in Suffolk is at a 10 year low. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Millions fewer journeys are being made on Suffolk's buses with the number of passengers at a 10-year low, statistics have revealed.

An increase in online shopping and growth in the number of people working from home are said to be reasons for the sharp decline, with 1.6million fewer journeys made during 2017/18 than the same period the previous year.

The Department for Transport figures showed 14.9million journeys were made during that year, a fall of 18% on the previous year and the equivalent to 28 trips per head. The average across Britain is 75 journeys per person.

However a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: "These statistics show that whilst there is a drop in passenger numbers for Suffolk this is also the trend nationally.

"Bus passenger number is a key indicator of demand for transport services and the statistics show that demand has been decreasing over recent years, particularly in rural counties.

"There are many factors that could have contributed to the decrease in passenger numbers and effected an individual's decision to use public transport.

"For example the growth of online shopping, which may mean less people make bus journeys to retail amenities and as working from home has become more popular, less people may be travelling to work."

What do the bus companies think?

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Chris Speed, head of operations for First Eastern Counties, said; "Although nationally there has been a steady decline in passenger numbers over the last couple of years, our business in Eastern Counties through investment in our fleet, the introduction of digital ticketing technology and strong marketing initiatives and campaigns, we have turned the corner and delivered a 5.7% increase in passengers using our services year on year.

"We work closely with Norfolk and Suffolk county councils and other stakeholders to improve public transport provision across the counties, but there is much more work needed to be done to address areas where congestion prevails, look at initiatives to improve bus access and the feasibility of positioning car park charges higher than bus fares to encourage more people to consider using the bus as there preferred mode of transport."

What do passengers think?

Sandie Ashton, 68, who has taken the number 76 from Felixstowe to Ipswich and back five days a week for the past five years, said: "I think the buses are so important, especially to older people like me.

"I think that I have noticed that there are less buses around the area so I suppose it might not be convenient for other people, but it's great for me."

Fellow passenger Ron Simmons said: "It's not surprising less people are using the bus when you can buy a car for the price of a year long ticket.

"If they want to have people use the bus it should cost less."

Another passenger who did not want to be named said: "I only use the bus a few times a week when my girlfriend uses our car. I wouldn't use it if I could take the car to work.

"Using public transport is a nuisance. Buses aren't usually on time, they don't go directly to your destination and they cost more than they should."

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