Night buses could get bouncers

PUBLISHED: 14:37 11 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

ROUND-the-clock buses could soon be operating in Ipswich to help weekend clubbers get home during the early hours of the morning – with a bouncer on each bus.

ROUND-the-clock buses could soon be operating in Ipswich to help weekend clubbers get home during the early hours of the morning – with a bouncer on each bus.

Bus companies, local authorities and the Clubwatch liaison group have applied to the government for funding for the new service.

It's one of two new initiatives for which funds are being sought from the Government's Urban Bus Challenge.

That is a £40 million three-year-programme announced by former Transport Secretary John Prescott shortly before the general election.

It will allow councils and bus companies from across Britain to bid for the money to improve services in towns and cities.

As well as the 24-hour services on Friday and Saturday nights, Ipswich Buses has also linked up with local councils to try to get government money to help boost services to the Whitton, Castle Hill and Priory Heath areas of the town.

That would see new low-floor buses introduced the number of buses increased by 50 per cent, improved bus stops and shelters, and a better evening and weekend service.

"The cost of the new vehicles and increased services would be between £500,000 and £750,000," said Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson.

"The cost of the infrastructure would fall on the shoulders of the local authorities, so we can't tell what the total cost would be," he said.

The Urban Bus Challenge is especially aimed at deprived areas, which is why routes to Whitton and Priory Heath should be eligible.

The 24-hour weekend services would be targeted at clubbers who currently have difficulty in finding taxis to take them home after a night out.

Mr Robson said buses would only operate if agreement could be reached with nightclubs to ensure the safety of staff and passengers.

"We are talking to nightclubs to ensure that each of the buses could carry one of their door staff to ensure safety on board.

"The night time services would require three vehicles – but we would only run them if we get support from the clubs," he added.

First Eastern Counties already run a 24-hour service on Superoute 66 to Kesgrave and Martlesham and has so far encountered no problems.

"Our staff know we have been talking about this, but there are no details as yet," Mr Robson added.

He said Eastern Counties found it easier to find staff for its 24-hour Superoute services than daytime journeys to part of the Greenwich estate where services have been cut back because of vandalism.

The problem of a lack of taxis in town at night was raised at a meeting this week. Concern was expressed about the number of people having to wait to get home. Fights and friction in queues were causing problems for police.

Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey said taxi drivers couldn't be forced to work certain hours but that research had been carried out to look at more wide ranging pub transport.

The aim is to start operating the late-night buses during the autumn.

Concerns were raised at the meeting about whether a doorman would be enough to control the number of drunk people who would be travelling on the bus.

One landlord suggested clubs join together to pay for a uniformed policeman. However others said a similar scheme in Wolverhampton had proved to be self policing.

If there were any problems on the bus, the driver would stop leaving a bus full of clubbers going nowhere. They calm the trouble makers or kick them off themselves!

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