California woman slams behaviour of First Bus

A CALIFORNIA woman left in the lurch by bus timetable changes has slammed the behaviour of the bus company involved as “appalling” and spoken of its impact on those living in the area.

Ruth Kelk had until this weekend used the First Bus service to get between a nearby Scratby bus stop and her workplace in Tesco, Caister for 12 years.

Often finishing work at 8pm, she would catch the 8.15pm bus, which she described as often busy with those returning from work, to within a few hundred yards of her home.

However last Friday she got a shock when handed a revised timetable by the driver. Ruth, who is widowed and has two grown up children, said: “We heard rumours by word of mouth beforehand. I knew something was happening and I thought that there may be some adjustment in the timetable, but when I got home and looked at the changes I couldn’t sleep that night.”

The changes kicked in just two days later and mean that between 6.45pm and 10.45pm there will be no buses going to Scratby. This has left the 59-year-old, who cannot drive, with either a long walk or a long wait for a taxi, an option likely to double her travelling costs.

Alternatively, she faces reducing her current working time of 21 and a half hours a week – an option she said she simply cannot afford.

Ruth said that she would be contacting Anglian Bus to see if they could offer a replacement service, and added the changes also had wider implications for those from the area.

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Pointing to a number of regular bingo-players in the area who use the evening service, she highlighted a local lady she knew who had spent hundreds of pounds on an annual bus pass before the changes were introduced.

“Many people are asking what they’re going to do; if they want to go out at night and they can’t drive they’re trapped,” she said, labelling the way they had been informed “appalling”.

The alterations are part of a county-wide set of changes, which affect a range of First Bus, Anglian Bus and Ambassador timetables around Great Yarmouth.

A spokesman for First Bus said: “While we regret having to withdraw from any areas that we currently serve, given the current economic climate we are being forced to re-evaluate our services, in line with other bus operators.

“Following discussions with Norfolk County Council, we have made several changes to our services across Norfolk – including service 1/1A. We apologise that these changes will not suit every passenger’s needs. The service changes have been advertised on our website, and we have displayed notices on buses and at local depots for the last two weeks.”