Ipswich buses to help Tsunami countries

BUS passengers in the disaster-hit area of south east Asia could soon be climbing on board a green Ipswich Bus – partly thanks to the Evening Star.Ipswich Buses is to donate two vehicles to the disaster-hit area of south east Asia after the Star told managing director Malcolm Robson about a charity scheme to take buses to the Tsunami-ravaged area.

BUS passengers in the disaster-hit area of south east Asia could soon be climbing on board a green Ipswich Bus - partly thanks to the Evening Star.

Ipswich Buses is to donate two vehicles to the disaster-hit area of south east Asia after the Star told managing director Malcolm Robson about a charity scheme to take buses to the Tsunami-ravaged area.

The company is to give a single-decker bus and a recovery truck which will be shipped out to either Sri Lanka or Indonesia.

Transport operators and aid groups from across the country have got together to form Asia Bus Response, which will ship a number of buses to the affected area.

Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson took the decision to offer the vehicles after we told him about Asia Bus Response.

He said: "We have a bus which was due to be disposed of anyway and we've got a new recovery vehicle due here very soon - so our existing vehicle was due to go anyway.

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"We've offered both of them to the appeal, it seems very worthwhile and we're delighted to be able to help in this way."

Asia Bus Response has appealed to bus operators from across the country to donate vehicles which are due to be replaced with more modern buses.

So far more than 30 vehicles from across the country have been donated but organisers are hoping that the number will rise significantly over the next few days.

Mitch de Faria from Asia Bus Response was delighted by the gift from Ipswich:

She said: "This is wonderful news, it's just the kind of thing we needed - and the recovery truck will be very useful indeed.

"We've been getting offers from throughout the country - so far about 30 vehicles ranging from minibuses to double-deckers have been offered, and they are all needed out there.

"What we are looking for is robust older buses which are reasonably easy to operate and maintain.

"These kind of buses are being phased out in this country - which is good and bad news for us at the moment.

"There are fewer of them around but a lot of bus companies, like Ipswich, are replacing those they have left so rather than scrap their old vehicles or send them to a museum they can do this."

Some large groups like Go Ahead and National Express have also said they will be giving some vehicles - but have not yet decided how many will be sent out.

Other transport giants like First Group - which operates Eastern Counties - Stagecoach and Arriva have already given large donations to charity appeals for Tsunami victims.

They have not yet decided whether to support the Asia Bus Response scheme.

All the buses bound for Sri Lanka and Indonesia will be checked and, if necessary, repaired by engineers before being sent on ships to the affected areas.

They will be sent out to South East Asia as part of relief shipments being organised by the charity Islamic Relief.

They will retain their existing liveries, but it has not yet been decided where each individual bus will be sent.

One of the worst hit areas was Galle in southern Sri Lanka where the city's bus depot and all the vehicles stored there were destroyed by the Tsunami.

It is possible that in a few months time, survivors will be travelling around the city in a green bus which says it is bound for Stoke Park and Chantry!

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