'Take the bus or lose service'
Miles Jermy Passengers have been warned to “use it or lose it” following the expansionof bus services in the borough.Rival operators First Eastern Counties and Anglian Buses are locked in fierce competition after both having increased services on the Great Yarmouth to Norwich route.
Passengers have been warned to “use it or lose it” following the expansion
of bus services in the borough.
Rival operators First Eastern Counties and Anglian Buses are locked in fierce competition after both having increased services on the Great Yarmouth to Norwich route.
First's XI service is now operating every 15 minutes and Anglian is running more buses on the route after the A47/X47 proved a hit with passengers.
Extra buses have been recently added to First's number 4
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service in Caister, which has been extended to run at peak times.
The number 4 to Great Yarmouth town centre is running through residential areas of the village along the old route of the 8a that was controversially re-directed through the centre of the village last year.
Managing director Peter Iddon said: “The X1 has been extended at peak times to every 15 minutes because the service is so popular and we were leaving people behind.
“We have extended our services in Caister, but this will be withdrawn if there are not enough passengers - it is a case of use it or lose it. We do not provide a public service any longer but a service that the public use; buses are going to be run at the times when most people catch them.
“The days of large public subsidies are long gone and transport companies have to operate on a commercial basis.”
After starting out as a coach company in the 1980s, Anglian has rapidly expanded its services, providing increasing competition to more established operator First.
Managing director David Pursey said: “The way fuel prices are going, the bus is a real option and we have invested a huge amount in a new fleet of low floor vehicles to make using our services a pleasant experience. But if people do not use a service that puts it in jeopardy - there is only a limited pot of gold.
“If a service is set up and proves unsuccessful then there is a notice period before it can be withdrawn which adds to the costs.”
Both Mr Iddon and Mr Pursey were grilled at a Rural Community Partnership transport forum held at Flegg High School in Martham last week.
Recent fuel price hikes had increased costs but had not persuaded more people to use the bus, according to Mr Iddon.
Mr Iddon pledged to make all the company's fleet disabled-friendly before the government's 2017 deadline.
Mr Pursey told the meeting it would be an advantage if operators could co-operate to ensure buses were not arriving at the same time.
Looking to the future, Mr Iddon said there was a need for a joined up transport policy and to think “outside the box.”
“Our business is not running buses, it is carrying passengers. I would be quite willing to operate rickshaws if that was the way to make money or offer more bespoke services such as a
system of feeder links with taxi services,” he added.