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Stakes raised in bus war

PUBLISHED: 17:48 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 03 July 2010

Miles Jermy

The stakes have been raised in the bus war with rival operators bidding to provide extra services in Caister.

Both First Eastern Counties and Anglian Buses are carrying out surveys in the village to assess passenger demand.

The stakes have been raised in the bus war with rival operators bidding to provide extra services in Caister.

Both First Eastern Counties and Anglian Buses are carrying out surveys in the village to assess passenger demand.

Anglian Buses revealed last month that it was looking at providing a service through residential areas of the village on the old First 8A route.

Now First has hit back announcing it may extend its mid morning to mid afternoon number 4 service to Market Gates Shopping Centre.

It was the latest salvo in the increasingly fierce competition between the two companies who this week went head to head on the flagship Norwich to Great Yarmouth route.

First managing director Peter Iddon said: “We are committed to delivering a safe and reliable level of service that meets our customers' needs.

“By asking the residents of Caister and Great Yarmouth for their views in this way, we hope to be better placed to establish whether service 4 could be improved in a way that would suit more of the residents who live in this area.”

More than 400 passengers signed a petition protesting about the controversial changes to the 8A route to the James Paget University Hospital in May.

The service was re-directed through the centre of the village after First decided the narrow roads were not suitable for the latest low floor vehicles

and replaced by the number 4.

A First spokesman said: “One of our main challenges is that, despite what many of our customers believe, we do not provide a public service. We are a commercial business and receive very little in the way of subsidies from local authorities.

“The plan is for the public consultation period to be quite brief; probably no more than four weeks at the most, otherwise we would never make a decision.”

Beccles-based Anglian Buses has rapidly expanded the number of routes in the Yarmouth area since moving from being a coach company to a bus operator in 1999.

Its new route number A47 began competing with First's X1 service between Great Yarmouth and Norwich on Monday.

Anglian director Andrew Pursey said: “I don't know what First's plans are, but I am sure people in Caister who have been left without a service won't forget it.

“I wouldn't like to comment on the reasons they are doing this, but all bus companies are constantly monitoring services.

“We may have prompted them to look at this again, but where the two of us operate on the same route it does give people choice and competition is good for everyone.”

Passengers can email their views on the need for extended bus services to contactus.fec@firstgroup.

com or write to First Customer Services, Rouen House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RB.

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