Cabbies demand end of night buses
TAXI drivers in Ipswich have demanded that the new nightbus service for late-night clubbers should be withdrawn before it damages their business.They have written to the two councils sponsoring the service pointing out that few people are using the buses, and those who are catching them are putting themselves in danger.
By Paul Geater
TAXI drivers in Ipswich have demanded that the new nightbus service for late-night clubbers should be withdrawn before it damages their business.
They have written to the two councils sponsoring the service pointing out that few people are using the buses, and those who are catching them are putting themselves in danger.
The nightbuses were introduced by the Nightsafe scheme sponsored by Ipswich Council and Suffolk County Council.
Ipswich Taxi Drivers' Association secretary Eric Pearl said many of the buses were running empty.
"My members see them, and the most you ever see on a bus is 12 people," he said.
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"Often they're running about empty or with only one or two people on board.
"It's far safer for people to be taken to the door of their home rather than have to walk through a housing estate from a bus stop in the early hours of the morning."
Mr Pearl said few clubbers were choosing to go home by bus rather than taking a taxi, but his members were concerned about the longer term impact.
"If these buses do become more popular, there will be fewer people taking taxis and fewer taxis available when the buses are withdrawn.
"You'd also have more people at risk by wandering about the estates in the early morning."
Ipswich council transport spokeswoman Penny Breakwell said there was no question of withdrawing the nightbus service at present.
"It's only just been launched, you have to give it a chance," she said.
"We accept that the safest way of getting home is by taxi, but the nightbus offers more choice – it's offering a service to people who may otherwise walk all the way home from nightclubs and the buses are certainly safer than that."
Mrs Breakwell said there had been a problem finding taxi drivers prepared to work in the early mornings because of fears for their own safety.
"That was a problem at one stage," said Mr Pearl. "But now the police are stepping up their patrols. It is much safer and more taxis are available."