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Weekend bus fear of Ipswich taxi drivers

PUBLISHED: 20:00 03 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

IPSWICH taxi drivers said today that they are concerned about a new weekend bus service introduced in the town which they fear could jeopardise their livelihoods.

IPSWICH taxi drivers said today that they are concerned about a new weekend bus service introduced in the town which they fear could jeopardise their livelihoods.

Damian Lewis, of Pinecroft Road, who has six years experience in the taxi trade, said that in addition to hitting taxi drivers in the pocket, the new buses could not provide the same level of safety for young women that a taxi could.

In response to comments made by Bryony Rudkin of Suffolk County Council who said the buses would "get people home safely", Mr Lewis said: "We can offer the door to door service that buses can't so it is safer for a single girl to get a taxi. Buses will just drop people off at stops – at least we can take people to their door."

He said that although the new services would possibly reduce noise levels and drunken behaviour in the town centre, these people will just be transported to out-of-town bus stops.

The new service started on Friday and will run every Friday and Saturday throughout the Christmas and New Year season.

The buses will run half-hourly between roughly 11.30pm and 3.15am, leaving from the Old Cattle Market and Cardinal Park areas.

In the pilot service, which has been launched as part of the Nightsafe initiative, passengers will be charged a nominal fee for journeys

But, for a trial period, the buses will be subsidised by funding from a partnership, which includes Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Police and the town's nightclubs.

Mr Lewis said: "In the six years that I have been a taxi driver it has become much more competitive – we noticed a drop in trade when the Route 66 bus came in and the council has given out more plates."

Under the new scheme, the Route 66 bus will continue to operate its normal service to Kesgrave and Martlesham.

Mr Lewis, 32, who is an independent taxi driver said that most of his trade comes from the rank on Lloyds Avenue although he picks up fares from all over town.

He estimates that the new bus will seriously effect his trade and that of most other independent taxi drivers in Ipswich.

"We've heard rumours about the new service for a couple of weeks and I know of a dozen or so drivers who are also independent and that are concerned.

"We'll have to see it through - some people are saying let's wait until after the weekend to see how much we have lost."

N What do you think? Is the new bus service better and safer for the town or are taxis and cabs better?

Write fax, or email to Star Letters or Star News, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, fax 01473 225296 email EveningStarletters@ecng.co.uk or StarNews@ecng.co.uk


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