Temporary fault not temporary

WHEN is a temporary fault not a temporary fault?That's the question thousands of passengers using Ipswich's Old Cattle Market bus station have been asking over the last eight months.

WHEN is a temporary fault not a temporary fault?

That is the question thousands of passengers using Ipswich's Old Cattle Market bus station have been asking over the last eight months.

For most of this year, the destination signs at the bus bays in the station have been "temporarily out of order."

Irregular passengers have been left perplexed – not knowing where the buses are going.

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Are they waiting in the right place for Shotley, or is the bay for Stowmarket, Sudbury, or Saxmundham?

The station is owned and managed by Suffolk County Council.

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The signs first went wrong in February, and bosses at the county council know all about the problem.

"I've never seen so much buck-passing among council officials as when this was discussed," said one bus industry insider.

"No one wanted to take responsibility for this, but it seems that finally someone may be doing something.

"I don't think the technology is too complicated."

At County Hall they were blaming the technology.

Public transport manager Mitchell Bradshaw said: "We have had ongoing problems with the electronic information display at the Old Cattle Market bus station for several months.

"We are sorry about the delay in sorting out the technical problems and we are trying to resolve them as soon as possible.

"At the moment the equipment isn't working correctly and we are going through the process of replacing and updating the system.

"We are also planning to improve the information provided at the bus station by adding a large screen which will show all departures. This will be in addition to the existing screens."

This is not the first time the county council has got into trouble with its bus signs.

When the Superoute 66 service was launched a decade ago, one of its main selling points was that users would be able to track buses via the internet – and all bus stops would have real-time information telling people how long they had to wait for the next bus.

At the time the internet did not reach many people – but it did reach staff at BT Labs in Martlesham, even before it was renamed Adastral Park.

But the hi-tech promise took many years to come to fruition – and even after it was introduced on a "trial basis," it was unreliable and was eventually switched off for many months.

New buses introduced on the route could not be tracked by the satellite system, and all in all the hi-tech dream all fell rather flat.

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