Concerns over bus changes in Norwich
Calls are being made for First to review a decision to reduce bus services that serve the University of East Anglia.
The 21/22 bus service currently runs throughout the year from the UEA to the city centre via the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), Bowthorpe and West Earlham.
But from January 15 the UEA will no longer be included in the route. First will cease to have a direct link between the university and hospital, and a new number 40 circular route will link the UEA with Bowthorpe and West Earlham at peak times during term time.
Konectbus continues to run a twice-hourly service from near the UEA's entrance on Earlham Road to the N&N.
The First changes are part of a number of alterations the bus operator is making to some Norfolk routes.
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A First spokesman said a lot of work had gone into the service changes, looking at information from on-board ticket machines about who is travelling, where they are travelling and when, and also getting feedback from passengers.
He said services were regularly monitored and could be changed in the future depending on demand.
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But Tash Ross, community and students rights officer at the UEA's students union, said: 'We are quite worried about the changes. We have quite a lot of nursing and medical students on placement at the hospital and a number of students living in the NR5 area. We sold bus passes to students at the beginning of the year and a number of them will have bought them for services they now will not be able to use. We are going to start campaigning and ask for the decision to be reviewed.'
Stacy Edwards, a UEA nursing student, who lives in Bowthorpe, suggested First should organise a forum at the UEA to hear the students' views.
She said: 'The removal of the loop service and implementation of the 40 service has restrictive impacts on me and my course. I study outside the normal term time so the new bus service would be of no use to me. The times that the bus runs is ridiculous and...people that have a single lecture or appointment will have to wait around campus before another bus turns up...I don't think any students have been considered in the implementation of this new service.'
A UEA staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous and who lives at Chapel Break, said: 'I moved to the area a few months ago and rely on the service, and now not to have a bus route for 13 weeks of the year is unacceptable.'
A UEA spokesman said decisions about the bus routes rested with First.
He said: 'While we appreciate the withdrawal of the 21/22 service may cause inconvenience to some, in our experience the vast majority of staff and students travelling between the main campus and the hospital choose to use the footpath across the playing fields which is lit and monitored by CCTV. We welcome the introduction of the new service 40.'
People living in Robin Hood Road, Tuckswood, have also spoken of their concerns that the number 17 bus will now no longer go down their road.
The number 17 service will no longer serve South Tuckswood while the number 18 service has been re-routed via Trafford Road and Hall Road to replace the changes to the number 17 route.
Barry Ayers, 72, who lives at the sheltered housing complex in Forester Close, off Robin Hood Road, said: 'There are a lot of old age pensioners living in the area and they rely on the bus. A lot of these people cannot walk further to another bus stop.'
• What do you think about the changes? Email email@example.com
First bus services, which will be subject to changes:
9/9A Ives Road - Lakenham
10/10A Mulbarton - city centre - Spixworth
11 Sprowston - city centre - Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
12/12A Stalham - Wroxham - Norwich
13/13B Attleborough - Wymondham - Norwich
14/14B/15 Wymondham - Hethersett - Norwich
16 Old Catton - Costessey - Queens Hills
17/17A City centre - Blofield Heath - Lingwood
18 Long Stratton - city centre
19/19A/20 Heartsease - Costessey - Lodge Farm
21/22 Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - Bowthorpe - West Earlham - City Centre
24/24A Thorpe St Andrew - Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
26/27/27A Horsford - Hellesdon - Hercules Road - city centre
28 Thorpe Marriott - city centre
29 Taverham - city centre
31 Early morning circular
40 UEA circular
• For full details of the changes visit www.firstgroup.com