December 13 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 3, 2013
A campaign to save a Suffolk town’s bus shuttle has began after the company behind the plans said it would axe the service.
Bus users in Stowmarket are facing uncertainty after FirstGroup announced its 87 service would stop.
The service was introduced in July last year to give people in residential areas like Cedars Park access to the town centre.
But it is being cancelled because of “low passenger demand” and FirstGroup has been criticised for the level of service offered.
Town councillor Nigel Rozier said he would be calling on county councillors to help save it.
Gary Green, county councillor for Stowmarket North and Stowupland, said he was “confident” a new company would come in and run the service.
He said: “The service is definitely needed, Stowmarket needs a bus service around the town. I’m shocked and surprised – it’s the main market town in Mid Suffolk. It could be that the service is not working as it should be – drivers not turning up and passengers then making alternative arrangements.”
Mr Rozier said he had written to FirstGroup over the management of the bus service and said the town deserved a “decent and reliable” shuttle.
Steve Searle, county councillor for Stowmarket South, said he would speak to Graham Newman, cabinet member for roads and transport at Suffolk County Council, about the issue.
He said cancelling the service would cause “a lot of problems”.
A spokeswoman for FirstGroup said: “Following a review of our Ipswich network, changes have been registered to start on November 17.
“It’s with regret that we have withdrawn services 56, 70 and 87 due to low passenger demand, however we have increased service 55 to every 20 minutes and introduced a new 10-minute service linking the town centre with Chantry (in Ipswich) and Brookwood.
“We are currently working with Suffolk County Council to provide a long-term, sustainable replacement to service 87.”
Councillors quizzed FirstGroup bosses in September 2012 - two months after the service began - over punctuality concerns.
There had been “serious delays” because buses were waiting at a level crossing, it was claimed.