Ipswich Buses warns of possible service cuts

Ipswich Buses boss Stephen Bryce

Ipswich Buses general manager Stephen Bryce has warned of possible cuts to services. - Credit: Ipswich Buses

Some bus services in and around Ipswich are under threat because of the confusion about the level of support they will get once the government's pandemic support scheme comes to an end.

Ipswich Buses' general manager Stephen Bryce said there was still no clarity about what support would be offered by the government through Suffolk County Council, so some of the loss-making services may have to be cut.

It was revealed last week that up to 30% of bus services across the country could be under threat with the end of the emergency grants that had been put in by the government in March 2020.

Mr Bryce said: "If we don't get support we will have to look again at services like Number 4 (to Bixley), Number 7 (to The Dales) and Number 16 (to Maidenhall and Halifax) as well as some of the out of town services.

"We are still waiting to hear what will be happening when the emergency funding comes to an end - and what money will be coming from the government through things like Bus Back Better."

He was also frustrated because the county had not made any decision on funding concessionary fares - including free bus passes to those on state pensions.

He said: "Other counties have said they will reinstate them at pre-2020 levels, but we are still waiting to hear what Suffolk is planning."

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said officials were still talking to bus operators about concessionary fares and the authority was unable to comment further on this because their discussions were commercially sensitive.

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The government had extended the emergency funding to the bus industry until the end of April but Suffolk was still awaiting news of what money would be coming its way in any new schemes to support routes in the county.

Many of Ipswich Buses' routes in the town are - such as the high-frequency main routes to the large housing estates - are operated on a commercial basis with no subsidy.

But the routes with less frequent buses that tend to only operate during the main part of the working day are generally subsidised to ensure those without access to a car can reach the town centre and hospital.