Move to combine Ipswich bus stations - and crackdown on car drivers using bus lanes

Passengers board an bus at Tower Ramparts bus station in Ipswich

Passengers board a bus at Tower Ramparts bus station in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich's two bus stations could be replaced by a single hub - while car drivers who use the town's bus lanes could be hit by automatic numberplate (ANPR) enforcement. 

The ideas are included in a £50million bid for government cash, under a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) which is set to be approved by Suffolk County Council's cabinet.

A report to the authority suggests it should "undertake a feasibility study, consult and produce a business case for combining Ipswich’s two separate bus stations into a single high-quality interchange." 

A previous proposal to combine the two bus stations was explored back in the early 2000s.

The Old Cattle Market Bus Station in Ipswich

The Old Cattle Market Bus Station in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

However, the ambitious idea was abandoned in 2005 - because it was felt there was no site large enough to take all the vehicles which currently use the Tower Ramparts and Old Cattle Market bus stations.

The area between Tacket Street and Carr Street had been considered as a possible location for a combined bus station as part of the proposed "Mint Quarter" shopping centre, but this never went ahead.

When the previous scheme to combine the bus stations was abandoned, it was suggested the Tower Ramparts site could be expanded, possibly as far as Peel Street, which would have meant demolishing landmark building Electric House.

That did not happen, but work was carried out to improve both bus stations as part of the Travel Ipswich scheme.

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The proposal also suggests introducing automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) enforcement of bus lanes.

This would be combined with implementing the bus priority schemes proposed by the Ipswich Quality Bus Partnership Agreement, aiming to streamline bus travel in "key corridors", making it faster.

This would start with the London Road Park & Ride corridor in 2022-23, followed by the Ipswich Hospital corridor in 2023-24 and the Norwich Road corridor.

Stephen Bryce, general manager at Ipswich Buses, said: "In our consultation meetings with Suffolk County Council, we have said we want to see improvements to the road infrastructure in Ipswich so buses have better priorities on key corridors, along with robust enforcement." 

Suffolk's BSIP would get under way from April next year, and the authority is seeking £50m over three years – £15m each for the first two years and £20m for year three. A detailed plan is currently being worked on.