Anger over cuts to bus service

SINCE The Evening Star revealed bus services would have to be axed as Ipswich Borough Council was clawing back around £1million from Ipswich Buses, protests over the decision have been pouring in.

SINCE The Evening Star revealed bus services would have to be axed as Ipswich Borough Council was clawing back around £1million from Ipswich Buses, protests over the decision have been pouring in.

These are the views of a cross-section of readers appalled at the cuts which will now have to be implemented.

See tonight's Evening Star to find out how you can play a part in our Save Our Buses campaign.

YOUR coverage of the proposed reduction in Ipswich bus services is a timely reminder to anyone who thinks that 'all politicians are the same' of the huge difference there still exists between the parties locally.

In the years when the council was controlled by Labour it was happy to continue to own Ipswich Buses, rather than sell it off, as it believes that public transport should be accountable to local people and the company should put the development of local bus services before the need to make profits. This was very successful and more people use buses in Ipswich than in similar towns, like Norwich, that do not have their own bus company.

This is not unlike the company model adopted by the government when it set up 'Network Rail' to replace the ill-fated (and profit motivated) 'Railtrack' that it inherited from the Tories.

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Having admitted 'Railtrack' was a mistake, the Tories who now run the council with the Liberal Democrats, seem determined to make the same mistake with Ipswich Buses and turn it into a money-making enterprise for the Council. Ipswich Buses will continue to make a modest dividend for the Council but this expectation has to be reasonable.

Just at the time when concern for the environment is at the top of the national agenda with talk of 'green taxes', the Tory council wants to 'tax' the things that are 'green'.

Ipswich is getting ready to become a university town and re-establish its reputation as a safe place to visit at night. This is not the time to be reducing late evening buses (all fitted with CCTV), if anything we should be running more.

The new, clean engine, buses that went into service this week (ordered before the Council announced its intentions) are a good example of what is possible when the company is allowed to invest its money back into improving services. Alas these may be the last new buses we see for some time.

May I conclude my letter by reassuring older readers that this has nothing to do with the recent change to 'free fares' for pensioners. Almost all the extra money for this came from the Labour government who support better bus services.

Councillor Philip Smart (Labour)

Chair (unpaid) of Ipswich Buses Ltd.

I USE the number 19 service and pay £44 a month for a bus pass, to now be told that the service could be restricted or removed is not good enough, how are we supposed to get to and from work.

We are told at every turn we should use public transport - If there are cuts to be made why have Ipswich Buses just put on smart new buses to their fleet, surely that money could have been saved and the routes could have stayed in place.

It is already bad enough that on this route the service stops at 6pm-6.30pm and there are no buses on a Sunday at all, now you will be lucky to see one during the day.

They had better not put the bus passes up again.

I read with shock the news of the proposed cuts to Ipswich Buses' services in the paper. They provide a good service most of the time, although timekeeping is sometimes a problem - but they cannot be held responsible for traffic delays.

The council now seems to want to start them on a similar downwards spiral to that which has affected with First Eastern Counties, with more and more routes being cut.

The net result will probably be that some of the routes go out to tender and are subsidised - so we still end paying for them one way or another.

The slogan for Ipswich Buses used to be 'owned by the people of Ipswich': is this still true today? If so, let the people of Ipswich have their say and tell the council to leave an efficient well run company alone to get on with the job they do well.

Rob Boyce

Bramford Lane, Ipswich

WELL, Ipswich Borough Council, that is another fine mess you have got us into! As a result of your actions, several areas of the town are now to lose their bus services altogether resulting in much hardship for many people.

I hope that people in the affected areas will remember this event when they cast their vote in the forthcoming council elections.

Peter Stonebridge

Henley Road, Ipswich.

I READ with amazement the story headlined "Buses face the Chop".

Following the Transport Act of 1985, Ipswich Buses became an "arms' length" limited company, with an independent board of directors responsible for managing and directing its affairs.

This was intended to bring to an end the days when, up and down the land, local councillors used the "corporation buses" as political playthings, including starving them of investment when the town hall coffers were empty. Many of the old municipal bus companies have since been sold and, in many cases, are doing very nicely for both their new share-holders and their customers. Ipswich is now one of only 15 council-owned bus companies in the UK.

If I read your article correctly, it sounds as if Ipswich has been asleep for the past 20 years. Is it really true that councillors have decided what should happen to the bus company, its routes and its vehicle-buying policy, without the company's executive directors' say-so?

These things were meant to have stopped in 1986. The best interests of the company, and the bus using people of Ipswich, would now seem to be to put Ipswich Buses Ltd. on the market. A customer-aware group such as Go-Ahead, National Express, Transdev or Stagecoach would probably provide a more secure future than the current owners.

Arthur Dent

Woodbridge

WHAT a backward move from our council to have just an hourly service in the evenings and Sundays it makes going out by public transport a joke especially if you need to change buses.

A lot of pensioners like myself do not drive and the buses are our only means of transport.

Having lived in the town all my life this must be the worst service we have ever had and for non- pensioners the most expensive. It was the government who gave us free buses I recall in 2005 the Tory and liberals wanted to make pensioners pay half fare. This will keep us off the buses as waiting for a bus for an hour, if you miss one just is not a welcome prospect.

George Athroll

Flint Close, Ipswich

I FIND this story completely unbelievable.

How exactly is this encouraging people out of their cars?

If this goes ahead, I can see nothing but gridlock in the town. It's bad enough already, now the council want to reduce the one way system around Star Lane to one lane, and are forcing Ipswich Buses to cut routes, for the sake of a few quid off the council tax.

It's not enough to say 'the routes aren't used'.

People aren't going to use the bus at all if there isn't a route or they only run every half hour.

I agree with everything Malcolm Robson said. I say they've got their priorities all wrong. For the sake of the town, we can do without this. What of the commitments that were made as part of the planning application for the new IBC HQ to provide a green travel plan for their staff?

A concerned resident from Maryon Road, Ipswich

I CANNOT believe that this idea could be put into action. Buses are late and unreliable as it is, and with ever-rising bus fares and axes to certain buses, the idea of the bus will be a forgotten one and people will resort back to using cars.

I use the number 5 and 11 services on a daily basis and with the reduction of services I would resort to other means of transport.

Kayleigh Barroso

Melbourne Road, Ipswich

THIS is one of the most ridiculous proposals I have read.

At a time where we should be trying to reduce our effect on climate change by using the bus rather than the car to reduce the bus services in the town seems as counter productive as the people behind this idea.

If we are serious about wanting people to use the bus it needs to be more affordable £1.50 each way is too much when many people can park down a side street near where they work for nothing. May I suggest it should be made more costly to park in the town that would act as a real motivator to get people to use the bus.

Robin Drain

Norwich Road, Ipswich

I FEEL this is utterly disgusting. Ipswich Buses are striving to make Ipswich have the best bus services and as they start getting it right the Tories and Libs see pound signs and try to throttle the life out of a well-run, publicly-owned bus company.

I use the buses every day and find them totally reliable. Are we going back to 1986 with the Tories kill off public transport crusade?

Bryan Dickson

Rosehill Cresent, Ipswich

I READ in shock in the Evening Star tonight (Jan 31st) about the proposed cuts to the excellent Ipswich bus service.

For many reasons I was both angry and disappointed

Disappointed, as it is obvious from these proposed cuts that local Tories do not share the green views that we are led to believe Mr Cameron has.

But it is as a father-of-two teenage daughters that this ill thought out decision makes me angry. After the last traumatic few months in Ipswich, with the tragic deaths of five young women, the last thing I want to hear is that my evening bus service to and from Rushmere is now only to run once an hour rather than the current two buses.

The reasons for the slashing of the bus service is just to enable the Tories (and their Lib Dem supporters) to keep the council tax at a low rate- putting money before public safety let alone making Ipswich a greener place to live in.

Maybe the statement that Mrs Harsant gave your paper holds a clue to their mixed up thinking. She states that her own ward (Holywells) and the lib Dem leaders ward - St Margaret's do not have many buses anyway! So not her concern?

I urge the electorate of Ipswich to do all they can to tell those elected to look after the interests of Ipswich that the last thing we wish for is a reduction in our excellent bus service.

Alasdair Ross

Lonsdale Close, Ipswich

I AM not surprised that the 19 bus service is being discontinued. I noticed in December that the timetable on the bus stop in Congreve Road only showed bus times for the 10 service and there were no details of the 19 service at all.

If only they knew how many elderly people relied on the 19 service, my mother included. Without that service she will be virtually housebound and I'm sure that there are many more people who will be in exactly the same situation.

Why give the elderly free bus passes and then make them redundant by cancelling the buses? It makes absolutely no sense at all.

C Denny

Kempton Road, Ipswich

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