Transport bosses unveil bus plan
TRANSPORT bosses are hoping to put an extra 1.2 million people on the buses in Suffolk with a radical overhaul of bus network.Suffolk County Council is planning to make major changes to bus timetables that will affect more than 200 communities.
By John Howard
TRANSPORT bosses are hoping to put an extra 1.2 million people on the buses in Suffolk with a radical overhaul of bus network.
Suffolk County Council is planning to make major changes to bus timetables that will affect more than 200 communities.
The changes, which will come into force on August 31, include new services for villages in mid Suffolk, faster services from villages to county towns, and more buses on traditional routes.
Underused bus services will be axed, but county council bosses insisted that nobody would be left stranded.
Changes include a new number 87 service running hourly between Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket and Stowupland.
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There will also be buses every 15 minutes between Ipswich and Stowmarket as the 86, 87 and 88 services are combined.
There will also be a faster service into Bury St Edmunds on the 320 route from Bacton and Cotton, near Stowmarket.
The 320 buses will no longer travel through villages south of the A14, which are served by the 321 route.
A new service - number 454 - will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between Cotton and Stowmarket and another new route - 457 - will run daily between Gislingham and Stowmarket.
The changes have been brought about for a number of reasons, including funding from the Government to improve services in mid Suffolk.
Other factors include the loss of some commercial services in the Bury St Edmunds area - sparking a review of the network in that area - the end of five-year tenders in Waveney area and educational bus needs.
Julian Swainson, the council's portfolio holder for transport and the environment, said: "So often it's about network reduction when you have a sweeping change, but this is good news for bus travellers.
"The key message is there is a lot of change, but it is change for the better. We want to reflect need and demand better.
"And we want a county where people are not living in splendid rural areas, but isolated by a lack of transport.''
Simon Barnett, a public transport officer with the authority, said current bus passengers would be able to make the journey they make at the moment, but may have to do so differently.
If the county council is successful in wooing the extra passengers - last year 17.8 million individual trips were made by people on buses in the county - it could win a multi-million pound bonus grant from Government to further improve services or cut council tax locally.
n Details of the changes to bus routes will be posted in bus shelters and will be available from bus operators, at libraries, post offices and stores, from parish councils and on the county council website at suffolkcc.gov.uk