Ipswich: Coach giant National Express to stay away from new bus station and will continue to use Cardinal Park

National Express coach;

National Express coach; - Credit: Archant

Britain’s largest coach company will not be returning to Ipswich’s Old Cattle Market bus station after facing problems with disabled access – National Express also found it picked up more passengers at its “temporary” site.

The decision to remain at Cardinal Park means people who travel into town on a service bus to connect with a long-distance coach are now faced with a 400-metre walk – while carrying heavy bags.

However the company says the number of passengers increased by 14% year on year after making the move when the bus station closed in May.

A spokesman for the company said: “As a result of the renovations to Ipswich Bus Station our coaches can no longer safely pick-up or drop-off disabled passengers at the station stops using the wheelchair lift.

“As we are fully committed to making our network 100% accessible for disabled passengers, our coaches will continue to call at stops in Cardinal Park instead.

“Since the move to Cardinal Park on May 4 this year our Ipswich services have seen a 14% increase in passenger journeys compared to the same period in 2012 when services called at Ipswich Bus Station.

“Meanwhile customers using Cardinal Park enjoy additional shopping facilities as well as being closer to the railway station.”

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A spokesman for the county council said there had been extensive consultation with National Express before and during the work at the bus station. It was understood the company had decided to continue to use Cardinal Park for commercial reasons.

However Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere was not happy about the issue.

He said: “It is astonishing that something as basic as checking that coaches could actually use the new bus station doesn’t appear to have been done.

“We have now lost an integrated transport interchange and this just adds to the impression that, after all this money has been spent, we’re left with a worse bus station than we had before.”

Meanwhile the county council is to carry out more consultations with the public early next year into proposals to change key junctions in the town. They are looking at introducing traffic lights at the Norwich Road/Valley Road junction, the Felixstowe Road/Nacton Road junction and the Woodbridge Road/Argyle Street junction.

However before any changes are confirmed the public will be able to get their views.

If work does go ahead after the consultation period, it should take place later in 2014 – allowing the Travel Ipswich project to be completed by the end of next year at the latest.