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Bus passengers urged to travel at different times as numbers are on the rise

PUBLISHED: 16:14 29 September 2020

First Eastern Counties buses marketing manager David Jordan in front of its eco fleet of buses. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

First Eastern Counties buses marketing manager David Jordan in front of its eco fleet of buses. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Archant

Bus passengers are being encouraged to get earlier services as more people return to public transport in Norfolk.

That is the message from First Eastern Counties which is seeing an upsurge in passengers, including students, and in response is putting on extra buses to keep up with demand.

The boost in numbers comes as the bus company has to stick to social distancing rules meaning on occasion during peak times some people could not use particular services, according to David Jordan, First Eastern Counties marketing manager.

He said: “We have got 65pc of our pre-covid passenger levels but our buses have to operate on a 50pc capacity. That is difficult. We are seeing our passenger levels rising faster than buses in other areas of the country.”

Mr Jordan said more people were returning to offices and using buses because of the area’s low coronavirus infection rate.

He added: “We really are doing everything we can. We are sorry if people cannot travel on the bus they want to get on but we are all in this together.

“We need people to think about considering altering when they travel. Can they get to their destination 30 minutes earlier?”

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He added First Eastern Counties, which operates across Norfolk and Suffolk, currently had 300 buses operating per day, compared to its usual 260.

In Norwich there are seven buses available to busy routes, including services to and from the University of East Anglia campus and city centre, and along Dereham Road.

Mr Jordan said the Norwich services were fully running, apart from the red line which was meeting demand where it needed to.

First Eastern Counties, which runs a live tracker showing passenger numbers, also runs over 30 school routes, where social distancing is not required because of student bubbles.

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Taylor Brammer, 24, a digital specialist for Archant, from St Andrew’s Park in Thorpe St Andrew, had to get a taxi into work after not being allowed on two First Eastern Counties buses due to capacity restrictions.

She said the green line, which she gets to and from work, is often busy around 5pm.

Miss Brammer understood the situation but said it was frustrating and the buses had become busier after schools reopened.


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