Suffolk: “Second class towns” warning from transport group
PUBLISHED: 10:23 27 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:23 27 April 2013
TOWNS and villages across Suffolk are in danger of becoming second-class communities because of the axeing of evening and Sunday bus services.
While towns on the rail network have public transport running until late in the evening, those which only have bus services find themselves isolated after about 6pm.
Now the Campaign for Better Transport – formerly Transport 2000 – has called on Suffolk County Council to reinstate evening bus services to market towns who are cut off to those who do not have access to a car.
Since the introduction of hourly services on the East Suffolk Railway Line in December last year, there has been an hourly service from Ipswich to Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Halesworth throughout the evenings – the last train leaves Ipswich at 10.17pm.
However the last bus to Leiston and Aldeburgh leaves Ipswich at 6.05pm and the last bus to Framlingham at 5.25pm.
The secretary of the Suffolk branch of the Campaign for Better Transport, Barry Moore, said the lack of evening bus services was driving a huge divide between communities.
He said: “You really are seeing a great divide opening between the haves and have-nots among Suffolk communities – those with rail links are seeing a great improvement in services but those without have seen their bus services slashed.”
The campaign points out that over the last 15 years the number of young drivers on Britain’s roads has fallen dramatically as the cost of insurance has spiralled.
Mr Moore added that some communities near Ipswich also suffered – he knew of young people who worked at pubs and hotels in Claydon who had difficulty in returning home at the end of a shift because of the lack of public transport.
Suffolk County Council cabinet member for transport Guy McGregor said the authorities were aware of the problems faced by some communities.
The county now sponsored a minibus service between Ipswich and Hadleigh in the evenings which had been successful – and it was looking at creating a “virtual railway” which linked nearby towns into rail stations.
He said: “We are aware that there are difficulties in some communities and we would like to do what we can. I am sure this is something that will be looked at after the council elections.”
Among the ideas being looked at was linking Haverhill with Stansted Airport – and the fast Stansted Express service to the capital – and running minibus services from Sudbury to Bury St Edmunds through Long Melford and Lavenham.