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Bus firm suggests passengers wanting Ipswich use alternative route which misses town entirely

PUBLISHED: 07:21 10 August 2019

First Eastern Counties are to shake up their services in the Ipswich area from September 1. Picture: PAUL GEATER

First Eastern Counties are to shake up their services in the Ipswich area from September 1. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Bus passengers in Martlesham have voiced their anger at changes to one of its key services - with the possibility of demonstrations next week.

And the alternative route suggested by operators for passengers wanting to go to Ipswich does not even run near the town, it has emerged.

First Eastern Counties announced it would be making changes on key routes from September, with the Route 66 bus which operates between Ipswich Rail Station and Martlesham no longer stopping in Eagle Way.

It has sparked anger from locals and the parish council, which says it was not informed or consulted on any changes.

Parish council chairman Mike Irwin said: "I was surprised to read that the revision to the bus timetables are designed to get more new passengers to use buses.

"Perhaps someone can explain how this will be achieved by making the 66 bus unavailable to the 3,000 residents of Martlesham Heath and significantly worsening the service provided by those buses that have survived the cull along the Ipswich - Kesgrave - Martlesham - Woodbridge corridor?"

The council was also angered by First's suggestions that passengers should instead use the Ipswich Buses 173 service, as it only ran between Woodbridge and Felixstowe via Martlesham, Waldringfield and Trimley and did not go into Ipswich at all.

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Stephen Denton from the parish council described it as "a slap in the face to the community".

Posters had been put on Eagle Way bus stops anonymously following the announcement, which proposed demonstrations outside the Old Cattle Market bus station next week, although they have since been taken down.

It is not clear if those planned demonstrations will still take place.

On Friday Martlesham Parish Council put its own notices on those stops urging people to contact First about the decision and urged the company to hold "meaningful discussions involving all interested parties to get a bus service that serves everyone".

But First has defended its approach to the changes.

David Jordan, marketing manager for the company said: "We take changes to any part of our network extremely seriously and undertake extensive analysis of passenger use, at a stop-by-stop level, in order to inform our decision making.

"Prior to registering our upcoming service changes, we discussed these in depth and their potential impact with Suffolk County Council as we are obliged to do, sharing our rationale and evidence as part of these discussions.

"In regard to Eagle Way, which is an area with a significant amount of housing, our analysis shows an average of just 'one person, per journey, per day' using the service, which is operated on an entirely commercial basis without any local authority subsidy."

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