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Stowmarket/Needham Market: First bus services 87 and 88 to change after criticism

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 November 2012

First Group has announced changes to 87 and 88 bus services

First Group has announced changes to 87 and 88 bus services

Archant © 2011

A BUS company is to change two important services after coming under pressure from councillors and passengers who rely on them.

Bus timetables for Stowmarket and Needham Market will change on December 2 after the 87 and 88 services had been criticised for being “a nightmare” to use.

The East Anglian Daily Times has spoken to several bus users in the past few weeks who have been angry after the First Group services were changed in July.

Mid Suffolk District councillor for Onehouse, John Matthissen, is one of a number of councillors who have campaigned for changes to the services: “They [First ] are responding to the quite widespread problems and concerns.

“The 87 and 88 did not run to time and they did not co-ordinate together. A lot of people around the town - if they wanted to get to Ipswich they needed both buses but if both were not running to time we had to allow a lot of extra time. It was desperate.

“We are very pleased that they are responding to the problem. They have responded in the way that we have suggested in terms of re-routing.”

Andrew Wheeler, First’s marketing, PR and sales coordinator for South East & Midlands said the 87 which goes round Stowmarket was subject to serious delays at a level crossing and in Stowupland some bus shelters and raised kerbs were not served.

The 87 will now be re-routed away from the level crossing and a the omitted stops in Stowupland will be served.

He said the timetable would be more reliable to ensure passengers were on time for buses to Ipswich following feedback from customers and discussions with Stowmarket Town Council and Mid Suffolk.

The 88 was changed in July from an hourly to a half-hourly service. But passengers complained as the service missed out residential areas and only went through Needham Market’s High Street.

Mr Wheeler said the service had ‘some punctuality issues’ which were made worse with road works in Ipswich. The revised timetable will restore some of the residential areas.

Kevin Hunter, clerk for Needham Market Town Council said: “The council feels it’s a very positive step.

“It does demonstrate the bus company is taking into account the customer’s views and views of organisations like the town council and are prepared to listen to them and make subsequent changes. That’s got to be applauded.”

Mr Wheeler said to demonstrate they are listening to passenger feedback a new customer panel will be brought in Ipswich.

People can apply to sit on the panel to provide feedback on how the company is performing.

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