December 10 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The Old Cattle Market bus station in Ipswich has reopened – six weeks late but still unfinished!
And some users were left asking “What’s changed” at the end of the £700,000 work – part of the Travel Ipswich project.
The surface of the bus station has been rebuilt – that caused the delays because it was discovered that vital services like electricity, gas and water were much nearer the surface than thought.
There are new shelters and waiting areas – in the same position as they were before.
But there are no public toilets and unlike major bus stations in Norwich and Cambridge no cafe in the waiting area.
Finishing touches still have to be completed. Passengers noted the absence of waste bins – the county says they will be installed in the next few weeks.
The much-heralded real time information boards still have to be fitted – but even when they are they will only be fully operational when all bus companies fit sensors to their vehicles.
And the “Saxon Helmet” which was at the entrance to the bus station is still to be returned – it is due to be near the Buttermarket entrance.
However despite the delays and the finishing touches still waiting to be complete, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for transport Graham Newman welcomed the new work.
He said: “This is open and attractive – the new shelters are a great improvement and when they do carry real time information that will be very valuable for passengers.
“The bus station was last rebuilt in the 1980s and it was looking pretty run-down. This improves this entrance to Ipswich. We hope it will last for the next 20 to 25 years.”
He defended the lack of public toilets and other facilities: “There are public toilets in the Buttermarket centre and they are only about 90 seconds away.
“There are plenty of places to get food and drink around the bus station – I don’t think they would have been too happy about a subsidised cafe here.”
He said that in an ideal world there would have been one bus station created for Ipswich, but at the time the Travel Ipswich project was being drawn up there was nowhere available for that.
Regular bus users Gloria Taylor from Stowmarket and Diane Heasley from Claydon were disappointed by the lack of public conveniences at the new bus station.
And Mrs Taylor was concerned to hear reports that National Express coaches were planning to continue using their “temporary” stop at Cardinal Park rather than move back to the bus station.
“I come in from Stowmarket with a case to catch the coach to take me to Stansted – if I’ve got to carry it all the way to Cineworld it will be no good at all.”
Mrs Heasley felt the new bus station was not significantly different to its predecessor: “It looks all right, but it isn’t much different – there are still not toilets here or anywhere to get a cup of tea,” she said.
A spokeswoman for National Express said the company was still investigating what was the best location for its coaches to use in Ipswich.
And a spokesman for the county council insisted the bus station was complete: “Of course it is finished, and buses are using it. It’s just waiting for a few finishing touches,” he said.