County puts squeeze on buses

SUFFOLK: Two groups of bus users have been served a double whammy by the cuts-conscious county council.

Kerthunk: First councillors voted to kick bus pass-users off rush-hour buses.

Kerpow: Then they voted to knock out Ipswich’s Bury Road park and ride.

The county is taking over responsibility for administering the government’s bus passes next year.

Until now they have been run by district and borough councils – and in Suffolk they all agreed that the passes could be used on any buses.

But the county will only allow them to be used after 9.30am – forcing those aged more than 60 to pay a fare if they want to use a bus in the morning rush-hour.

The change will save nearly �500,000 a year – and county transport spokesman Guy McGregor said it was a necessary change to keep costs down.

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Then the county council cabinet went on to agree the closure of the Bury Road park and ride is to close in January.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet agreed to withdraw the subsidy for the service after the Christmas period – although the future of the car park site has yet to be decided.

Mr McGregor introduced a report to the cabinet showing that park and ride in Ipswich was costing the authority �800,000 a year.

Cutting the Bury Road service would save �150,000 in the first year and �230,000 in subsequent years.

He said: “We know the service is valued, but the costs are rising and sadly we have no choice but go bring this forward.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Kathy Pollard urged the county to re-think the closure.

She said: “If you look at the number of people using the park and ride, that is increasing – and most people who park there will simply drive into town causing more congestion.”

n Are the changes fair for bus users? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail