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East Anglia: First Eastern Counties’ investment pledge welcomed by East Suffolk Travellers’ Association

PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 March 2014

First Eastern Counties bus

First Eastern Counties bus

Archant

A bus operator’s pledge to end “slash-and-burn” service cuts and begin a new era of investment has been welcomed by public-transport users.

David Squire, managing director at First Eastern Counties, told the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association that his company was trying to “ditch its old image” by appointing a number of new people with “bright ideas”.

Speaking at the meeting in Woodbridge, Mr Squire said: “We‘ve suffered from a lack of investment, but this year we are going to turn that around.

“We want to move from a vicious cycle of cuts into a virtuous cycle of growth, with the right people, the right vehicles and the right back-up.”

The company had been “stuck with some extremely large debts”, he said, but had managed to cut those by working with shareholders.

Outlining company-wide proposals to bring 425 new buses under the fleet, Mr Squire stated his intention to bid for a share of those vehicles to serve Suffolk and Norfolk. Part of that fleet, he said, could be made up of hybrid buses that run on a mixture of diesel and electricity.

“These vehicles are far more economic that conventional diesel buses and I hope that we see a number of new buses in the fleet this year,” he said.

Other innovations announced at the meeting included the introduction of “smart ticketing” devices, similar to the Oyster cards used on London Transport. “It’s all about simplifying things to make it easier to get around,” said Mr Squire.

Trevor Garrod, the association’s chairman, said he was “quite encouraged” by the comments made.

“It will be interesting to see whether the reforms put forward over recent months will bear the fruit we’re hoping,” he added.

“In the past we’ve sometimes found that when dealing with very distant management things don’t necessarily move very fast, so hopefully the changes will improve that. He gave us considerable cause for hope.”

6 comments

  • So broken down into the truth is that. A. more cherry picking routes against Ipswich Buses. B. make a mess of it as normal. then bugger off onto another route. mess that up repeat till every route in Ipswich has been destroyed.

    Report this comment

    mr angry

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • It would be wonderful if the Smartcard technology could involve some kind of computer wizardry which allowed the inter-availability between operators eg Ipswich Buses, Anglian Buses), with the correct distribution of fare-box receipts. Shouldn't be impossible!

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    Baptist Trainfan

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • I had to giggle... "could be made up of hybrid buses that run on a mixture of diesel and electricity" doesn't necessary relate to a hybrid, they all have batteries too. I think First might be on a winner here, they renamed the FAILING route 53 from Brookwood that no one understood where it was... but weren't clever enough just to have Chantry. I have to say they appear to be quite punctual Ipswich Man, but the issue with them is they are always empty or have a few free bus pass users on them. However like you have experienced, for the rest of their routes its a completely different story. First have always promised improvements but people never got them. Hybrid buses will be Norwich only.

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Let's hope some of the 'new era of investment' is directed towards the buses operating from Ipswich. I have heard that they very rarely get new buses, only hand me downs from other depots.

    Report this comment

    G Rumpy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • The worst thing with First Buses is they never turn up. Route 66, one doesn't turn up. Then if another one turns up 30 mins ish later, the drive know nothing and basically does give a gnats. Very unreliable service., and they have just put the prices up!!!!!

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Man

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  • Makes me wish for the old days (1960's) of Eastern Counties and their Lodekkas. In those days lots of Suffolk villages were on a bus route and the buses ran on time. First Bus are the pits!

    Report this comment

    Tractorboy

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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