Old Catton passengers air views on service to First bus boss
06:30 08 January 2013
Archant Norfolk 2013
Disgruntled passengers in Old Catton yesterday confronted a bus company boss over services changes labelled “an insult”.
First Buses has diverted one daily service to and from Norwich along Spixworth Road after residents complained at the removal of the route in the company’s September shake-up.
The revised service came into effect yesterday, with First’s regional commercial director Steve Wickers joining passengers on the 9.32am into the city.
He also met fellow passengers who told him the single service was not enough and who demanded the full timetable down Spixworth Road be reinstated.
Passenger Marie Harradine, 84, said the single-bus concession, which follows a 10-minute loop along George Hill, up North Walsham Road, and along White Woman Lane, was “deplorable”.
“It’s a great disappointment, and almost an insult to give us one bus a day. It will fiddle around before it even gets to Norwich,” she said.
First revised its new timetable after discussions with Old Catton Parish Council, which organised a petition with Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.
Mr Wickers said First had been happy to listen to residents’ feedback but that customer demand would dictate whether the service was removed, maintained or extended.
“We need to run the service for a little time and then meet with the parish council again to see what they think,” he said. “I don’t think there will ever be that demand, but let’s wait and see.”
Sanders Coaches runs six buses a day to and from Norwich.
Margo Wickers, 82, of Warren Close, described the single First service in each direction as “a sop” and “something to keep the pensioners happy”.
Norfolk county councillor Judy Leggett welcomed the move, but added: “We will be campaigning to get more services reinstated.
“[First] need time to tailor the services to the demand, but we don’t feel this is the complete solution.”
Bradley Sabberton-Coe, chairman of Old Catton Parish Council, urged passengers to send their message to First.
“It’s up to people now to use the service and prove that we do need more buses,” he said.
The parish council plans to meet First managers again in March to discuss the success of the service.