Shuttle bus to continue

IPSWICH'S shuttle bus which provides free transport from the headquarters buildings of two local authorities will continue to be partly subsidised by tax payers because it is “a good investment."

IPSWICH'S shuttle bus which provides free transport from the headquarters buildings of two local authorities will continue to be partly subsidised by tax payers because it is “a good investment.”

Route 38 is a circular journey from Russell Road - home to both Ipswich borough and Suffolk county councils - to the town centre including two bus stations.

For most of the day from Mondays to Fridays, it operates with one bus on a 20 minute frequency. But at lunchtimes, another bus is added to make it a 10 minute service and most of the passengers are staff from both authorities who use it for shopping journeys.

However, it is free to use by anybody who wishes to travel from one side of the town to another and is handy for people wishing to go to Ipswich crown court or who want to buy tickets for Ipswich Town matches from Portman Road.

The shuttle bus is paid for from the parking fees the council charges its staff, who insist on driving to work, for using its multi storey car park. That raises �71,700 a year and the borough council puts up a further �15,000.

The county council launched the service, which is operated by Ipswich Buses, shortly after it moved its headquarters from County Hall to Endeavour House. The following, Ipswich borough council moved out of Civic Centre and occupied offices at Grafton House on the other side of Russell Road from the county council.

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It has been sponsored by The Evening Star.

It was introduced as part of the county's pioneering green travel plan, which aims to reduce the number of cars being used in town centres. The initiative has encouraged other large employers to offer incentives to their office staff to use public transport.

Since August 2005, the shuttle has carried an average of 4,549 passengers a week, and in the past 12 months, usage has average 6,541 a week.

Paul West, the borough council's portfolio holder for transport, said: “We consider it a good investment for the sum of money we put into the scheme.

“I am a realist and know that motorists are reluctant not to use their cars but we must try to do all we can to encourage them to take advantage of public transport.

“There is a balance to be struck - if we increase car parking charges to promote public transport, the danger is that we will put off shoppers coming into the town centre,” said Mr West.