Gallery: How First’s bus network will change in Norfolk

The Norwich bus network is set to be given a big revamp next month, it has been announced at a launch event by Norfolk's main bus operator First.

The new network, which will be operated specifically by the newly-named First Norwich, has been colour-coded in an effort to 'simplify' the city's network for passengers.

Giles Fearnley, managing director for First UK Bus, said that Norfolk is 'a very important part' of the company nationally and said: 'What we have done is make the network more efficient in the way we have linked up each route.

'Things such as drivers sitting idle waiting for their next trip, that is where we have been able to find some efficiencies by linking up different services.'

First are hoping the new network will further improve punctuality and offer a better service, using the eight differently coloured routes, from Sunday, September 23.


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These routes will be (basic details):

- Pink - 11, 11a, 11b (Sprowston, Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital).

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- Purple - 36 (Horsford, Norwich, Long Stratton), 37, 37b (Hellesdon, Norwich, Mulbarton), 38, 38a (Ives Road, Norwich) and 39 (Miles Cross, Norwich, Lakenham).

- Yellow - 28 (Thorpe Marriott, Drayton, Norwich), 29, 29a, 29b (Taverham, Drayton, Norwich).

- Blue - 25, 25a, x25 (Rail station, Norwich, UEA).

- Red - 23, 23a, 23b (Heartsease, Norwich, Costessey), 24, 24a (Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, Costessey).

- Orange - 21, 21a, 22 (Old Catton, Norwich, Bowthorpe, UEA or N&N).

- Turquoise - 13, 13a, 13b, 13c (Spixworth, Norwich, Wymondham, Attleborough).

- Green - 12, 12a (Stalham, Wroxham), 14, 14a (Wymondham, Hethersett, Norwich, Wroxham), 15, 15a (Wymondham, Hethersett, Norwich, Blofield Heath or Lingwood

The launch event, held in the Top of the City lounge at Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium, set out the company's plans and saw First bosses answer questions from transport group representatives, shareholders and politicians.

Steve Wickers, regional commercial director for First South East and Midlands, said: 'Over the last few years we have been working on a number of changes to improve our network and we are at the stage where performance is very good but to go the next step we needed this review.'

Mr Wickers pointed out that 16 new single-decker buses have been added to the Norwich fleet, an investment of around �750,000.

Network officer, Chris Limbach, said: 'We carried out a lot of research, looked at ticket machine data, customer feedback, spoke to MPs, county councillors and local bus groups because we want to see the network benefit the people of Norfolk for the years to come.

'We want a network which is as simple as possible to operate and as simple as possible to use for passengers.'

Mr Limbach highlighted key changes, such as one dedicated route for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 11/11a, running a service every 10 minutes.

An improved frequency of 15 minutes in Wymondham and Hethersett was also highlighted, as were new Sunday services of Spixworth and Lakenham.

Passengers now have around a month to get used to the changes and John Peacock, spokesman for Norfolk Buswatch, said he expected a mixed reaction to the changes.

He said: 'I think the 24 route no longer going to the hospital and being re-routed to Costessey Queens Hills is going to cause a lot of problems because there are a lot of older and retired people that will lose that service.

'I know people up that way are not very happy about it.'

However, Mr Peacock said he thought the colour-coding of the network was 'a good idea' and continued: 'The rest seems quite well thought out. The Horsford to Long Stratton (purple 36) and Hellesdon to Mulbarton (purple 37 and 37b) seem good.

'There are some very useful links that will allow people to go to places that they have perhaps not been able to go to before.

'And giving the routes a colour should help to make things clearer. Anything to make things easier for the travelling public and make routes easier for people to identify has got to be a good thing.'

Other details announced at the launch included the reduction in price of a day ticket between zones one to five, bringing adult prices down from �5 to �4 from Sunday, September 23.

Cliff Hussey, former general manager for First in North Essex and Suffolk, was also announced as the new general manager for Norfolk and Lowestoft.

While a launch event will be held on Hayhill in Norwich city centre on Monday, September 24, where passengers can talk to First Norwich staff about any concerns they have.

- To see the full route changes, see a gallery of the new routes at the top-right of this page.

- How will the changes effect you? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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