Ipswich: Not so long, long ago bus wars flared up in the empire!

MAY the fares be with you!

Bus wars are coming to town with the two largest transport operators in the county going head-to-head on a number of Ipswich’s most lucrative routes.

In the green corner (with a little bit of purple for good measure) is Ipswich Buses, which has operated services around the town since the start of the last century.

In the white corner (with a dash of crimson and blue) is First Eastern Counties, which has invaded the east of the town and will now run alongside one of Ipswich Buses’ busiest routes.

The private firm’s move has prompted the borough-owned company to hit back, increasing the number of buses it runs on the route – and also tackling First Eastern Counties along one of its busiest services.

Ipswich Buses is also preparing to re-introduce its “ten journeys for a tenner” ticket for the school summer holidays after it proved highly successful in February.

The firing gun for the battle was sounded after First Eastern Counties – which pulled out of running services in Bury St Edmunds in March – registered its intention to introduce new services along Foxhall Road.

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This is one of Ipswich Buses’ busiest routes – and has prompted them to announce that they will increase the frequency to a bus every ten minutes.

Ipswich Buses is also planning to introduce a service along Nacton Road every 20 minutes – at present this route is mainly served by First.

Malcolm Robson, managing director of Ipswich Buses, said the decision by First to move its services to Foxhall Road had prompted his company’s moves.

“That is a very busy route for us, and this is a very serious move. We are in a strong financial position and we are determined to respond.”

Mr Robson said the ticket offer had always been planned for the school summer holidays – but the decision by First had given it added importance.

There are also likely to be price cuts around the town – a decision to lower the price of fares on some services in Norwich Road had been very successful and was going to be rolled out on other routes.

Mr Robson said: “We are going to protect our business – we are also having some fresh buses coming into service in our new livery over the next few weeks.”

n Will the changes improve bus services in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

A SPOKESWOMAN from First said: “The changes planned to our services in Ipswich on July 29, follow discussions with the councils and after evaluating passenger feedback to the existing Ipswich operation.

“We are confident that the changes to existing services and the implementation of new services will benefit both current bus users and non-bus users in Ipswich. We hope these revisions show that using the bus can be the easiest and most affordable method of transportation.”

The company’s decision to move services away from Felixstowe Road led to a heated meeting last week – but there was no guarantee they would be re-thought.

The spokeswoman said: “We will take into consideration all the comments and suggestions we received at the meeting on July 12, and are likely to receive in the future that might able us to continue providing great services to our customers.

“With modern, greener buses running more frequently along new routes serving the town centre, railway station and other amenities, First are confident that the majority of bus users will welcome the revisions.”