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Massive drop in bus passengers and traffic on roads across Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 19:00 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:41 16 April 2020

Bus companies have seen passenger numbers fall by about 90% during the lockdown.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bus companies have seen passenger numbers fall by about 90% during the lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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The number of bus journeys on major operators in Suffolk has fallen by more than 90% since the coronavirus lockdown started.

Norwich Road, normally one of the busiest in Ipswich, is very quiet during the lockdown. Picture: PAUL GEATERNorwich Road, normally one of the busiest in Ipswich, is very quiet during the lockdown. Picture: PAUL GEATER

And the number of vehicles on the road has also dropped dramatically, with highways officials believing Suffolk is in line with national trends which have seen the amount of traffic on the roads fall by between 70-75%.

The news comes the day after it was confirmed that the number of rail passengers heading from the region to Liverpool Street Station in London had fallen by 95%.

Ipswich Buses general manager Steve Bryce said the company had not kept accurate figures for bus usage - but said: “From the takings it is clear that we are down by 92-93% on the numbers we were carrying before the lockdown.

“We are now running an enhanced Sunday service with fewer buses, but they are only running for essential workers.”

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He has been impressed by his staff’s dedication, adding that every service on the amended timetable has run.

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“Although these are unsettling times for everyone, I would like to thank our fantastic team of drivers, cleaners, engineers, supervisors and managers who have all been professional and responsible during this pandemic ensuring that other key workers can safely get to work,” he said.

“We have been flooded with praise from the public, along with messages of support and concern about our drivers’ safety.

“Although we are now running a reduced service, we have not had to cancel a single journey due to staff shortages or vehicle availability and that just goes to show what a fantastic and committed team we have at Ipswich Buses and we are truly grateful for their hard work.”

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First Eastern Counties has seen a 90% fall in passenger numbers. Managing Director Steve Wicker said: “With the financial assistance being provided by local and central government, we are able to continue providing bus services across our Eastern Counties bus network for people needing to make essential journeys during this challenging time brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is now only around 10% of people travelling on buses to what would normally be and for those making bus journeys we are advising that everyone follows the government guidance on social distancing by keeping a safe distance between other people when standing at bus stops, boarding and alighting and when seated.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers is always at the forefront of our bus operation and to help keep people safe we are undertaking additional deep cleans on buses, ensuring bell pushes, window ledges, hand rails and other touchpoints are sanitised every day and providing our drivers with hand sanitiser and gloves.”

County councils and police do not keep records of the number of vehicles on the road – national figures are obtained from motorways and countries largest cities. Those figures show only about 25-30% of normal traffic numbers are operating at present.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it was clear the roads were much quieter. It is thought that the traffic levels in the area reflect that national figure.


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