All change on Ipswich Buses as new fares and timetables brought in

Ipswich Buses fares and timetables change from Sunday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Buses fares and timetables change from Sunday. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Bus fares in Ipswich are to go up at the end of the week – and there will be changes to some routes across the town.

Marketing manager Danielle Devenish, Ipswich Buses chairman Chris Mole, and borough leader David Ell

Marketing manager Danielle Devenish, Ipswich Buses chairman Chris Mole, and borough leader David Ellesmere with the first two new double decker buses at the company's depot. Picture: JADE GIDDENS, IBC - Credit: Archant

But most Ipswich Buses late evening services in the town have been saved after the borough council agreed to subsidise them through the county council.

There will be changes to some services across the town with the circular route linking Ravenswood and Ipswich Hospital with the Rushmere area of the town being split into two separate routes, services 2 and 6, from the town centre to the hospital.

There are also changes in the north west of Ipswich with a new weekday route 7 from the town centre to the Anglia Retail Park through Dale Hall, Castle Hill and Whitton estates running on an hourly basis.

The services have been changed to try to put borough-owned Ipswich Buses on a stronger commercial footing.

An initial proposal to stop services on Sunday evenings has also been eased after the borough agreed to fund hourly services on popular routes between 8pm and just after 11pm.

The fare increase will see the introduction of flat fare single tickets of £1, £1.50, and £2 and return tickets will cost £1.90, £2.90 and £3.80. Day tickets for the town area will cost £4 for adults and £2.50 for under-20s with a county council Endeavour Card.

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There are also increases in the cost of 10-trip tickets to £15 and to weekly, monthly, six-monthly and annual season tickets.

One group who will save money is dog owners. Well-behaved dogs will be able to travel without a charge on the buses.

The service changes were first outlined in December as Ipswich Buses sought to reduce the cost of some of its operations – it has recently taken delivery of newer energy-efficient double decker buses for some of its busiest routes.

When the changes were first announced, there were concerns among late-night workers who used the last bus of the evening to get home – and from people who used the late buses to get home after going to town centre pubs, restaurants, theatres or cinemas.

And the threat to Sunday evening services also sparked worries – so the borough decided to sponsor these services, on a commercial basis – to ensure their comparatively small number of users were not left stranded in the town centre at the end of the evening.

Ipswich Buses a rarity in England after regulation brought privatisation

Ipswich has one of only six council-owned bus companies left in England after transport giants bought up most other municipal transport firms after deregulation in 1986.

It is 100% owned by Ipswich Borough Council – but it has its own board chaired by former Ipswich MP and transport minister Chris Mole.

It has to operate as a business and any subsidy by its ultimate owner has to be granted in open competition – the county council had to award the contract to run some evening bus services in the town even though it is the borough that will be providing the finance.

The fact that the company is still owned by the borough has been a political issue at times over the last 30 years, but an attempt to sell part of the company when the borough was controlled by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the early 2000s was not completed and the Labour council seems unwilling to revisit the issue.

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