Getting a seat on a train easier than ever according to Suffolk survey

Inside a regional train for Greater Anglia

Inside a regional train for Greater Anglia - Credit: Paul Geater

Train and bus users from across East Suffolk feel they had a public transport experience last year, though this may be due to fewer people using the services.

In October the East Suffolk Travel Association (ESTA), an independent voluntary body for public transport users, conducted its annual bus and train survey asking people about journeys they made during the month.

Many positive experiences were reported, such as helpful staff on both trains and buses, usually easy connections, and compared to the October 2019 survey (2020 survey didn't occur) there was some improved punctuality by both trains and buses.

One of the most interesting points is that, according to ESTA, nobody reported difficulty getting a seat on the new trains or any busses.

While rail passenger numbers, although having increased, have still not reached pre-Covid levels, the new trains might have helped resolve this major issue.

ETSA said just under a third, 32%, of trains arrived early, an average of two minutes per train, which partly reflects the greater speeds possible with Greater Anglia’s (GA) new bi-mode trains.

Train journeys asked about included those wholly or partly between stations on the East Suffolk Line (Lowestoft – Ipswich) or the Wherry Line (Lowestoft – Norwich).

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The majority of bus journeys were between the principal east Suffolk towns.

It was also noted that 27% of people cycled to stations, which could reflect GA’s improved cycle parking.

ESTA does feel that, although most reported both bus and train staff as helpful, there could be some better communication when it comes to explaining the reasons for late-running services.

The organisation is also still concerned about the lack of facilities at some bus stops, despite fewer complaints.

ESTA Chairman Trevor Garrod said: "We hope to meet with the operators and council representatives in the next few weeks to discuss these findings.

"Public transport has a key role to play in meeting the challenges of climate change. We hope our report will provide evidence which can be used to improve services further."

Looking forward, ESTA hopes the findings of its October 2022 survey will reflect the tangible effects of Suffolk County Council’s Bus Service Improvement Plan - a £50million scheme to improve coverage, provide cheaper fares, improve ticketing, and better evening and weekend services.