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Passengers fury at village bus service

PUBLISHED: 13:57 07 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 March 2010

BUS company chiefs have pledged to solve problems of overcrowding and services not stopping to pick-up after a barrage of complaints from villagers.

Angry Trimley travellers have branded their early-morning rush-hour services as "appalling" and want the operators First Eastern Counties to take urgent action.

BUS company chiefs have pledged to solve problems of overcrowding and services not stopping to pick-up after a barrage of complaints from villagers.

Angry Trimley travellers have branded their early-morning rush-hour services as "appalling" and want the operators First Eastern Counties to take urgent action.

They say the exceptionally large number of students from the twin Trimleys and Felixstowe now travelling to Suffolk College means the buses are overcrowded and full-up before they even reach the Trimleys.

Some full buses do not stop and on others children have been forced to stand up the stairs because there are no seats.

Villagers are also upset that the company has axed the 78 service which went round Faulkeners Way and was helpful to elderly and disabled people.

First Eastern's area traffic and administration manager Chris Dexter told Trimley St Martin Parish Council that he would investigate the problems and see what could be done to solve them.

He would talk to Suffolk College and also to schools to see if children and students with season tickets could be moved to buses which were less full.

Statistics gathered from the buses' "black boxes" showed that there was plenty of space – though he accepted that drivers under pressure to get passengers aboard and meet the timetable might not record all season ticket holders.

"There should be plenty of capacity and we should be able to get people aboard and to Ipswich. I understand and appreciate the problems you are telling me about and I will investigate," he said.

He would also look at the route which was covered by the 78, though there would be no action on this until the New Year.

The service had been withdrawn for commercial reasons – First Eastern provided public transport but it was a commercial company and had to make a profit. Its top priority at present was to provide reliable and regular services and it needed to save money to invest in better buses and recruit more drivers.

Suffolk County Council could give subsidies to keep a route running where there was a social need but had decided not to support the 78 service.

Parish councillors said they would have liked to have been informed of the company's intentions so they could have presented a case for subsidy to the county council, and Mr Dexter apologised for the lack of communication.

Parish councillor John Barker said: "I find it horrifying that you can wipe out a local bus service without talking to us about it."

Mr Barker, who has been keeping a daily log for the past two months of the problems, cited many occasions when buses had failed to stop and up to 20 people had been standing. He said the council could complain to the vehicle inspectorate but hoped the company would solve the problems.

"I was appalled at the attitude of First Eastern – they seem to be forgetting that without passengers they would not be in business, they exist to serve their passengers not the other way round," he said after the meeting.

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