Concerns over Southwold’s bus routes
A passenger group has called for improvements to bus services operating to and from Southwold.
The East Suffolk Travellers' Association (ESTA) recently conducted a survey of its members which showed that many local bus passengers had concerns about services to and from Southwold.
Cuts in bus services have also led to fewer passenger journeys, according to the survey.
The ESTA report comments: 'There was a trend to visit the town less in July compared with January this year, when an opposite trend would be expected.'
Lowestoft, Halesworth and Beccles, in that order, were the most popular destinations for Southwold and Reydon people, but the numbers travelling by bus to these towns fell by between 16pc and 20pc between January and July according to replies to the questionnaire.
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The experimental ban on buses in Southwold High Street since July is also shown to be unpopular, with 87pc of respondents calling for them to return to the Market Place.
The move, which was supported by the town council, was introduced by the county council in a bid to ease the notoriously bad traffic which plagues Southwold every summer.
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ESTA chairman Trevor Garrod said: 'Ours is the first known survey of bus passengers to and from Southwold in recent years.
'The local authorities and bus operators need to reconsider the level of bus services to and from Southwold and where they stop. Can we look forward to improvements in time for the 2012 summer season? If so, we in ESTA will be pleased to help promote them.'
Passengers were also asked how often they used Halesworth or Darsham rail stations. Some 24pc said they did but many complained that fewer buses now connected with trains at Halesworth and that connections there were less reliable.
The survey report has now been sent to relevant local councils, public transport operators and politicians.
Last night Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for transport at Suffolk County Council, said he was committed to an effective and reliable bus service. He also assured they would not be following Cambridgeshire's lead and withdrawing all funding from sponsored services.
'Going forward I see the same level,' he said. 'I want stability. I am aware of just how tremendously important these services are to people.
'I am committed to public transport and am happy to meet with ESTA to see how we can go forward.'
Andrew Pursey, director of Anglian Bus, which runs services to and from Southwold, said the were working closely with the county council and ESTA to try to improve both county council sponsored and commercial services. 'We hope there will be positive changes round about Easter next year,' he said.