Bus trip prompts passenger anger

A NIGHTMARE bus journey for passengers travelling from Stowmarket to Ipswich has led to calls today for improvements to bus services in the area.Bus operator First apologised to passengers who were left stranded after a bus broke down twice and a driver failed to turn up for work.

A NIGHTMARE bus journey for passengers travelling from Stowmarket to Ipswich has led to calls today for improvements to bus services in the area.

Bus operator First apologised to passengers who were left stranded after a bus broke down twice and a driver failed to turn up for work.

Passengers on the Superoute 88 bus from Stowmarket to Ipswich had their journey disrupted when the bus they were travelling on suffered mechanical problems in Stowmarket Road, Great Blakenham.

Tom Oxley, a spokesman for bus operator First, said: "Our driver noticed the bus appeared to be smoking and in the interests of safety stopped the bus and asked the passengers to get off.

"Having checked and found no danger the passengers got back on the bus but he could not continue his journey."

Things turned from bad to worse for the passengers when the driver scheduled to drive the next scheduled bus, the 8.05am, did not turn up for work at Stowmarket and could not be replaced because of a lack of prior notice.

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The passengers then waited for the next bus, scheduled for 8.20am, but they were unable to board it because it was already too full after collecting passengers not picked up by the 8.05am.

Liz Rozier, of Foxglove Avenue, Needham Market, was a passenger on a later bus travelling along the 88 route when she saw the passengers of the broken down bus.

"They were standing off the bus. They looked pretty annoyed when the bus had to go past," she said.

Mrs Rozier said she had experienced problems with the bus service during the past three weeks and had repeatedly complained to the company about buses not arriving on time.

She said Tuesday's problems caused flow-on effects, which left passengers at other stops facing longer waiting times.

"The bus I was waiting for didn't turn up. Due to that the next driver picked us all up from Stowmarket to Needham Market. He was then full from Needham Market onwards."

She added: "There were about 24 people at Claydon. A bloke went to get on and the driver said 'I just can't physically get any more on'."

An engineer arrived at Stowmarket Road at 8.25am with a bus to replace the broken down one but that vehicle was used to pick up school children, who were given priority, rather than the stranded passengers.

The broken down bus was fixed by 8.35am and the passengers continued their journey to Ipswich but their run of bad luck continued when the bus broke down for a second time as it travelled along Norwich Road.

This time the passengers were able to catch other bus services but First in the Eastern Counties was apologetic about the disruption.

Mr Oxley said: "We did everything we could as soon as possible to help the children and other passengers get to their destinations.

"We also acknowledge that people were delayed and we apologise for that.  "Thos seeking compensation should contact out customer services centre on 08456 020 121."

Yesterday's problems are among a number in recent weeks, according to Mrs Rozier, who has called for improvements to the service.

"In the last three weeks at least once a week my bus has not turned up," she said.

Have you experienced problems with a bus service? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.