Last bus leaves for Norwich prompts villager dismay

PENSIONERS in villages around Great Yarmouth will be left with no direct way of getting to Norwich after a bus service made its last run today.

The TR1 followed a well-worn route through villages on its way to the city every Friday morning before making its return in the afternoon.

Stopping off at places including Cantley, Freethorpe, Halvergate, Reedham and Beighton, it has provided a well-used and cost-effective means of travel for elderly villagers not able or willing to drive the distance.

However, Yarmouth-based firm Swift Taxis, which provides the service, says that the route has to be pulled as it is no longer financially viable.

Barbara Stone, 79, regularly uses the service from Reedham, and said she found out when a leaflet was distributed by the driver last Friday to the two dozen passengers on board.

“When we found out we were collectively like ‘oh no’ and it was very short notice. It’s been running for years, and to get the train would be very expensive.”

Many hoping to get to Norwich who previously used the TR1 would now have to take a bus to Acle and change there.

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Kevin Boyne, general manager at the Swift Taxis, said that the predominance of users with bus concessions meant that “we never had any fare paying users”.

He added: “There’s not enough passengers to warrant it, especially with the current rise in fuel costs.”

And Mr Boyne pointed out that, though there was a subsidy from central government for concessions, it only covered 43p worth of a �1 fare.

He added that the company had honoured a pledge to maintain a contract for the service for a period of time; but now that time had elapsed a review of services had taken place, resulting in the decision.

In the leaflet given out to dismayed users of the bus, Swift Taxis also highlighted a lack of subsidisation from Norfolk County Council for the service.

Pushing for a possible replacement service is Acle county councillor Brian IIes.

“Without the service it leaves those affected in an almost impossible situation, having to rely on friends and charitable neighbours to ferry them around,” he said.

Mr Iles recognised Swift Taxis’ reasons for pulling the service and emphasised that though the county council could not afford to subsidise the service, it could help in other ways.

“The council should get involved in negotiations with businesses over options of providing another service, as it has the staff and the expertise.”

Suggesting a smaller bus could be used on route, he added: “I will talk to officers at the council to see what can be done.”