Anger over First Ipswich's re-routing of bus services
PUBLISHED: 08:32 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:33 30 November 2018
A controversial decision to divert a bus service on one of Ipswich's key routes has prompted a wave of public anger.
A petition signed by more than 400 people was submitted to First’s network manager Iain Rankine at Ipswich Borough Council’s south east area committee last week over First’s decision to divert the 76 and 77 services away from Felixstowe Road.
Among the criticism was the lack of consultation with both locals and the borough council, with only the minimum discussion with Suffolk County Council having been carried out before the changes on November 18, according to councillors.
The service has been diverted to Spring Road, meaning those in Felixstowe Road now face a 700m walk to their nearest stop.
The changes also mean those services will no longer serve Bishops Hill, Cobham Road, Lindbergh Road or Nacton Road.
Councillor Sarah Barber, south east area committee chairman, said: “Residents with disabilities and different illnesses that find it quite hard to walk the 700m, they are going to be away from a functional bus stop.
“Their objection was to the way it had been withdrawn.”
It is understood Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has also written to First over the changes.
The decision has prompted calls for the former Number 4 service to return, to ensure there is a Sunday service.
Holywells councillor Liz Harsant said: “This is absolutely unbelievable during this period of time they have erected a new bus stop on Lindbergh Road which will never be used.
“It’s just crazy, particularly when we are talking about congestion into town.”
A spokesman for First Ipswich said: “Before introducing the recent changes on November 18, we had several discussions with Suffolk County Council outlining our plans.
“In addition, we concluded a nine month exercise in analysing customers travel patterns on all First services running within Ipswich.
“The data provided us with more accurate information of when, where and how often people were travelling on services across the network.
“Although a number of changes were introduced, Felixstowe Road was one area that we needed to make adjustments, as it was very under-used, regularly only attracting a single number of people wanting to travel per day.”