Category Archives: Buses

The bus service in Woodbridge

Woodbridge Town Council report: February 2010

Boundary Committee update

I can almost not bear to continue  more or less repeating the same old mantra. The deadline for responses to the Secretary of State’s proposals has passed. Now, as we know, the Secretary of state has a number of options to choose from including:

  1. Select a new structure of local government in Suffolk, consisting of a whole Suffolk Unitary, their preferred option for a new structure.
  2. Select an alternative new structure of local government for Suffolk, consisting of a North Haven Unitary comprising of Ipswich and Felixstowe, and a Rural Suffolk unitary.
  3. Refer back to the original proposal, of a sole Ipswich Unitary.
  4. Take no action.
Don't we live in a lovely town! You can see all of Woodbridge from Sutton Hoo

So…

We now carry on waiting to hear what the Secretary of State will decide; however, there is still no set date for announcement . There is recess from tomorrow to 22 February, so unless they’re announcing it now, it is not likely to be until late February or early March, which could make elections this year extremely difficult.

Parking in Woodbridge I have just been contacted today by the  Sub Team Leader, Integrated Transport (East) about Suffolk Coastal’s proposal to introduce Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday charges for parking at the Avenue, Woodbridge. She is minded to reject this proposal because “This car park is currently well used during these above times as it is adjacent to the recreation area, tennis courts, riverside recreation area. You will be aware that the recreation ground is widely used for football matches on Saturdays and Sundays, as such even with the car park free at these times, overflow vehicles park on nearby adjacent roads, restricting the parking available for residents. Introducing charges will exacerbate the problem as drivers will seek free parking first on the residential roads. This will again cause problems for the residents of these roads and will increase the number of roads and consequently residents affected.” If Woodbridge Town Council have opposing reasons and see merit in introducing charges, perhaps they could contact Ms Rapley urgently. The Woodbridge proposed TROs (parking) are now being written up before being put before bothe Woodbridge Town Council and the public for final consultation. Rail Services The railway between Ipswich and Lowestoft via Saxmundham is known as the East Suffolk line. Once a double track main line, it was reduced to two sections of single track in the early 1980’s, which is why the train service is generally of a two hourly interval. However in recent years there has been a renaissance on the route with passenger numbers increasing by around 16% each year An hourly interval service will operate between Ipswich and Saxmundham from December 2010 and when a passing loop is built at Beccles, there will be an hourly interval service between Ipswich and Lowestoft from December 2012. The East Suffolk Line Development Group (ESLDG) has been formed consisting of officers from Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk Coastal District Council, Waveney District Council, Network Rail, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) and members of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership. The ESDLG has published the Draft East Suffolk Line Stations Investment Plan. The document describes the method used to audit facilities at each station plus the Felixstowe branch line and contains opportunities to improve facilities at each of these stations. The East Suffolk Line Stations Investment Plan can be viewed by using the following link: http://www.suffolkonboard.com/rail/east_suffolk_line_stations_investment_plan. There is also a comments form should you wish to respond to this consultation. The closing date for responses is 29th March 2010. Comments received from this consultation will be taken into consideration when an Action Plan for investment on the East Suffolk Line stations is produced later in 2010.

Budget The County Council announced that the Council Tax would be increased by 2.4% over the next year. Areas that are being prioritised for extra spending include:

  • £1.5m as a one-off payment for roads maintenance to help deal with the effects of the particularly harsh winter
  • £1.7m to continue the investment in social workers to help support vulnerable children and their families
  • £1.6m to pay for the additional numbers and more complex placements of young people coming into the care system
  • £4m to help care for older people who most need specialist support
  • £1.6m to pay for extra landfill tax

There are still areas within the budget that are overspent, including Children and Young Persons by £2m, mainly due to the increasing cost for Home to School Transport and for Adult and Community Services by £1.7m due to the increasing demographic. In addition to this within the capital budget, SOR will be costing over £100m The budget will be approved at a special meeting on the 18th February. The particularly worrying bit from my point of view.is that the budget appears to suggest a gradual transfer of subsidised rural bus services from regular services to demand-responsive, booked-in-advance services without adequate consultation. Despite huge budgetary pressure, I notice a very large sum (£1,269,000) is allocated in the Environment and Transport Capital Programme 2010-11 for the “Demand Responsive Transport project”). I questioned this at the pre-budget Council meeting and was told “The £1.269M in the budget proposals will introduce a new system for booking, planning and managing demand responsive transport, with benefits to users from increased “opening times” to take bookings, and bookings able to be made closer to the time of travel.” All rural parish councils north and west of Woodbridge as far north as Aldringham and Sternfield are being surveyed. Unfortunately replacing scheduled bus services here will impact severely on the services – all of which pass through Woodbridge. I’m thinking here of the 62a and b, the 64 and the 65 services. These are represent almost all the buses that serve Woodbridge, which could potentially become the end of the line, rather than a stop on the way to multiple destinations. This would inevitably lead to a reduction for our residents.. I’m calling on Woodbridge Town Councillors and relevant district councillors of all political parties to join with me to look at this problem urgently.

Woodbridge bus timetables

http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/easterncounties/easterncounties/timetables/index.php?operator=22&page=5&redirect=no

This link gets you through to the First Eastern Counties bus timetables. You need to be aware that at the moment the bus timetables are changing with very little reference to their passengers.

One Monday morning in November, I was standing at a Woodbridge bus stop, waiting for a bus that would get me to a 9am meeting in Ipswich. Well it would have, if it hadn’t been cut by First  Eastern Counties without any warning the day before. How to ruin a Monday morning quickly and efficiently, eh?

now, when I say without any warning, they certainly hadn’t warned me as a passenger – oh no.  Why they hadn’t even changed the timetables. They also hadn’t informed me, as the County Councillor. And they certainly hadn’t alerted me as spokesperson for Highways and Transport.

Did they think that nobody would notice?

The way things are

Things are not looking good for the bus services in Woodbridge. From a ‘high’ of 4 Ipswich buses an hour back in the heady mid-nineties, we are now making do with 2 which come fairly reliably as long as you don’t wish to travel in the evenings or on Sundays and public holidays.  As if, eh?

And, to be fair,  travel to Ipswich hospital remains possible within working hours Monday to Saturday just  as long as you don’t mind a half mile walk to South wards. Although the new Garrett Anderson block incorporates   a bus  turning circle , no Woodbridge buses pass near that way. It adds too long to the timetable, explained the operator’s Suffolk County Council apologist. I wonder if they realise  that the bus timetable is meant to serve the public’s needs rather than the other way round.

This is, of course, in work times.  If you wish to visit the hospital in the severely restricted evening visiting hour be resigned to the fact that there is NO BUS AT ALL that goes anywhere near.  Woodbridge’s evening, Sunday and bank holiday bus  the 62a/b  – the one subsidised by Suffolk County Council – doesn’t follow the  daytime routes of the 63,64 and 65. Instead it makes its way from the Buttermarket in Ipswich,  along the Nacton Road and manages to avoid the hospital completely. You could almost think it was happening on purpose..

A cynic might suggest that the 62a/b is travelling THE  least populated route because it will make  it easier to cut the service in future… (after all, if it doesn’t pass the hospital it can’t be counted an essential service, can it?)

Remember folks, when it comes to buses its use it or lose it. Its fine to disregard them when you have a car – but there are times when people can’t – or can’t afford to – drive. And where is your bus then? We are reaching a Beeching situation with local buses – if we lose them now we may never get them back.

On a brighter note, we’re having better news with the rail service locally, in that – twenty years after it was first announced – it looks as if we may finally have an hourly service to and from Ipswich at the end of 2010.