Ipswich: Call to join up Ipswich via new bus link

IPSWICH: Today The Evening Star issues a clarion call to bring Suffolk’s dynamic county town together as one.

For years Ipswich has been split – the town centre and the Waterfront have suffered from a great divide.

And the railway station is also out on a limb – making it difficult for new visitors to find either the town centre or the Waterfront, the town’s jewel in the crown.

So we believe what is needed is a simple-to-understand central bus network linking the various parts of the town – an Ipswich version of the Tube’s Circle Line, which we’ve called the i-Line.

And with retail giant Tesco giving �425,000 to improve town centre travel links, we may just be pushing at an open door.

Today we’ve backed our theory with a dynamic plan – and we hope you like the ideas we have come up with.

We say:

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1. The town needs a simple to understand system backed up with modern technology to enable everyone to use it with ease.

2. A limited number of easy to understand stops would keep the buses moving. Each bus stop should be fitted with real time information telling passengers how long they need to wait until the next vehicle arrives.

3. An “Ipswich Oyster” card should be available – �1 buys a one-day ticket for the loop, rail tickets costing more than �10 should automatically qualify for the trip and credit card-style “rechargeable” tickets should be available for regular users like students or Waterfront residents.

4. The loop should take about 25 minutes to complete – meaning that three buses could provide a service every ten minutes from 6am to midnight.

We have produced a map showing a possible route linking the rail station, the town centre, the two main bus stations, Suffolk New College, UCS and the Waterfront.

This route should be easy for everyone to use and with clear maps at key stops – especially the rail station and “central” by the Old Cattle Market bus station – it should be easy for those not familiar with the town to follow.

The Star has spoken to the town’s own bus company, Ipswich Buses, and the passenger transport authority, Suffolk County Council.

Both are enthusiastic about our idea – and with the Tesco money it seems as if there is a real chance of a central network like this happening.

New vehicles would be needed to attract users – and this could be an opportunity for either diesel-electric “Hybrid” buses or even an all-electric service with buses powered by batteries.

Newcastle has electric buses linking the Quayside on the River Tyne with the city centre – and similar vehicles could become a common sight on the streets of Ipswich.

n Support our campaign. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk