Travel Ipswich hasn’t worked for buses – transport chief

Ipswich Buses on Crown Street.

Ipswich Buses on Crown Street. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The £21million Travel Ipswich programme that should have made life easier for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists has done nothing to speed up bus journeys.

That is the stark assessment from Ipswich Buses managing director Jeremy Cooper as his drivers struggle to make their way around the town.

And the difficulties of getting around town make it particularly challenging to attract drivers on to the town’s park and ride services.

Liberal Democrat county councillor Caroline Page, who lives in Woodbridge, told this week’s meeting of the authority it had once taken her 45 minutes to travel to the town centre from the Martlesham park and ride.

By contrast, Colchester’s park and ride buses take just 12 minutes to reach the town centre – using short bus-only routes and by having sensors attached to the buses which change traffic lights to green as they approach.

Mr Cooper said: “Bus journeys around the town centre have not improved because Travel Ipswich hasn’t got the full system working yet.

“And there is a real problem for us in that since fuel prices dropped there is a lot more traffic on the road – and buses are getting held up in that traffic.”

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He said journeys of 45 minutes from Martlesham Heath to the town centre were “exceptional”, but he was aware buses did sometimes take much longer than the advertised 22 minutes to reach Tower Ramparts.

Ipswich Buses is talking to the county council – but officials at Endeavour House cannot see how buses can be significantly speeded up because there is not room to fit in more bus lanes and there could be resistance to closing roads to other traffic.

There are hopesthe new computer-controlled bus lanes could speed the vehicles up – but Mr Cooper said some passengers were looking for other solutions.

He said: “We are finding people are asking for us to drop them off at bus stops some way out of the town centre because it is quicker for them to walk from Woodbridge Road to the heart of Ipswich rather than staying on the bus. That tells us something about our town centre in the 21st century – that the quickest way of getting about is on foot.”