Major changes to Norfolk bus services

Bus company First Eastern Counties is to axe its service between Norwich and Bungay in the face of stiff competition from a rival.First will withdraw its 58/58A Norwich-Poringland-Bungay service from next month , claiming a lack of passengers meant it was no longer viable.

Bus company First Eastern Counties is to axe its service between Norwich and Bungay in the face of stiff competition from a rival.

First will withdraw its 58/58A Norwich-Poringland-Bungay service from next month , claiming a lack of passengers meant it was no longer viable.

But the decision has been claimed as a victory by Beccles-based Anglian Bus, which runs on its 577 and 588 service along a similar route.

The axing of the route is part of a programme of service changes by First that include establishing a new direct link between the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Stalham, Hoveton and Wroxham.

First Eastern Counties has operated on the Norwich-Bungay route for decades but appears to have been driven out by its smaller rival.

Spokesman Gussy Alamein declined to comment on Anglian, saying: 'We're withdrawing because it's not viable. There are simply not the passenger numbers. It's about making best use of our resources. These buses can be redeployed on other routes.'

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Andrew Pursey, a director of Anglian Bus, said: 'People have voted with their feet. This is the first time I've experienced them cutting a route.

'We started on that route in January 2004 with four 33-seat vehicles. It's grown immensely since then: we operate seven days a week, 362 days a year, from 6.40am to 11pm, carrying more than 1,000 passengers a day.

'We're more competitive. We turn up when we're meant to - time-keeping on all our routes is something we keep a close eye on. We have clean, modern buses with low-floor entrances and friendly drivers.'

Bungay town councillor Angela Brook, a regular user of both services, said: 'I've always found it slightly bizarre that we had two competing companies on the same route.

'The First buses always seemed to be scheduled slightly after the Anglian buses and they always seemed to be empty. I've seen people choosing to wait for the Anglian bus, maybe because they are more modern, more comfortable and have video screens.

'For a time First would not accept Freedom passes before 8.30am so that put a lot of people off.'


Other changes to First Eastern Counties' timetable, effective from 26th April 2009, are:

t Service 2 (Barrack Estate-Great Yarmouth-James Paget Hospital): revised timetable, Monday to Saturday daytimes every 15 minutes between Barrack Estate and Market Gates, every 30 minutes to James Paget Hospital; evenings and Sundays the service will run every hour;

t Service 5 (Yarmouth-Burgh Castle): new hourly service, replacing Services 7/7A in Burgh Castle;

t Service 6 (Great Yarmouth-Bradwell): completely revised, operating via Gorleston High Street, and replacing Services 7/7A in Bradwell, and operating every 30 minutes daytime and every hour evenings and Sundays;

t Service 7/7A (Barrack Estate-Great Yarmouth-Belton)- revised to operate direct between Bradwell Post Office and Belton, offering faster journey times between Belton and Gorleston or Great Yarmouth. All journeys will operate as Service 7, every 30 minutes daytime, hourly evenings and Sundays, and will no longer serve Barrack Estate, which will be served by Services 2 and 4;

t Service 12 (Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital-Dussindale) and Service 54 (Norwich-Stalham): These two services will merge, resulting in a new direct link from Stalham, Horning and Wroxham to the hospital (12/12A);

t Service 13 (Norwich-Wymondham-Attleborough): certain journeys in the morning and evening peaks will operate via the Gateway 11 Business Park;

t Service 14/14A/15/15A (Norwich-Wymondham): a new off-peak service between Norwich and North Wymondham (15A). Off-peak services to and from Wymondham will operate a revised frequency of every 20 minutes (was 15) with additional peak journeys;

t Service 17/17A (South Tuckswood-Blofield Heath/Lingwood): will operate a revised timetable including additional trips from the Hewitt School and Broadland Business Park;

t Service 29 (Norwich-Taverham): revised timetable;

Service X1 (Peterborough-King's Lynn-Norwich-Great Yarmouth-Lowestoft): following investment in 17 new double-deckers on this route, three off-peak journeys between Norwich and Dereham will be withdrawn and off-peak journeys between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston will be re-timetabled to a 30-minute frequency;

t Service X2 (Norwich-Lowestoft): revised timetable. In conjunction with Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council, on Sundays, frequency will double from every two hours to hourly.

Alan Pilbeam, managing director of First Eastern Counties, said: 'We recognise the importance of our bus services to the people of the eastern counties, and have made these changes after intense consideration, and being mindful of the impact on our passengers.

'The new direct link to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital will make travel even easier for our passengers, and the brand new services for Wymondham are excellent additional transport links.'

'Where changes have included the reduction or withdrawal of services, these have been as a result of passenger demand. These changes mean we can clearly focus on our strongest routes in order to remain competitive, and continue to provide an exceptional level of service.

'In addition, we will able to redeploy buses currently used on these routes, to further improve the quality of service on other routes.'