Ipswich bus route threatened by illegal drivers

Cars illegally using Fore Street

Cars illegally using the bus lane in Fore Street are forcing Ipswich Buses to change their route to the town. - Credit: Stephen Bryce

The boss of Ipswich Buses has begged Suffolk County Council to support public transport by enforcing restrictions on cars using bus-only routes in the town centre.

Stephen Bryce has said he is planning to stop using the the bus lane in Fore Street because it is being used illegally by so many cars and vans that his vehicles are unable to get through and keep to their timetables.

Ipswich Buses boss Stephen Bryce

Stephen Bryce - Credit: Ipswich Buses

He said there were similar problems at Dogs Head Street near the Old Cattle Market bus station - but could not persuade the county council to install equipment to trace drivers who used those streets illegally.

Private vehicles are banned from driving through both of those streets in a bid to make it easier for buses to get around but the signs prohibiting vehicles have been ignored for years.

Mr Bryce said: "In Norwich, Norfolk County Council has put ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras to catch drivers using St Stephen's Street illegally.

"They make a significant amount of money out of the cameras because of the fixed penalty notices they can issue. We've tried to persuade Suffolk to do that here in Ipswich but they don't seem interested.

"The situation is now so bad that the buses cannot get through - we end up waiting at lights for several cycles because the cars are blocking the way through,"

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He said he was planning to move buses away from Fore Street on March 20 unless something was done to prevent illegal use of the cut-through.

A spokesman for the county council said the issue was that in both Fore Street and Dogs Head Street vehicles could drive in to get access to premises - it was only illegal to drive straight through. 

He said: "We would only be able to enforce against drivers who go straight through without stopping to use either of those facilities. ANPR may not be able to manage that.

"The system would need to be able to view the entire street and verify that a vehicle did not pull into Angel Lane (off Fore Street) or otherwise stop before it could issue a ticket."

The council was looking to try to find a better solution for the problem.