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Free Ipswich shuttle bus axed by Suffolk County Council

PUBLISHED: 21:24 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 21:24 15 June 2017

The free shuttle bus, which has been axed by county council bosses. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

The free shuttle bus, which has been axed by county council bosses. Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

The chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council has said he is surprised and disappointed to hear that the town centre shuttle bus service is being stopped next month.

According to Russell Williams county council bosses revealed the number 38 service was being axed - and will stop running on July 28.

He also said the borough had not been consulted about the decision before being told at lunchtime today.

In a statement, Mr Williams added: “This afternoon Suffolk County Council announced that the town centre shuttle bus service (38) will cease on July 28.

“We are surprised and disappointed to hear of the county council’s decision.

“We were not consulted prior to this decision being made and were informed of it at lunchtime today.

He added: “We shall be reviewing our options to see if there is any way that we can help people who have depended on this service for so many years.

“I have already informed the leader of the council and I anticipate that we will make a ‘what next’ decision next week.

“I apologise for any distress and inconvenience the county council’s decision will cause.”

Representatives for the county council confirmed the bus will stop running in July – with the money diverted to encourage staff to use the Park and Ride service.

The decision forms part of a new campaign being launched by the organisation today in a bid to reduce the number of council employees driving into work.

One free shuttle bus passenger told this newspaper outside the Endeavour House bus stop: “It was initially a luxury but it has become essential for a lot of people. It is the first link in a much bigger transport network. A lot of people with buggies and mobility issues use it. There is a sense of community onboard.

“People will now have to either pay for a bus or get a taxi. A lot of workers will now have to drive in anyway. I am very disappointed.”

Another said: “I am gutted. A lot of us rely on it to get to work.”

One of the shuttle’s bus drivers said around 50% of passengers were members of the public.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It is sad, but they have to got to save money. I’d like to thank all my great passengers.”

The service runs every 20 minutes, Monday to Friday. Bus stops include the Old Cattle Market and Tower Ramparts.

Head of environment strategy Matt Hullis said: “Public sector organisations need to save money by sharing buildings and across Suffolk over £40 million has been saved doing exactly that.

“But it puts pressure on parking and our staff car park is at capacity. That’s why we must take action now.

“By encouraging staff to use Park and Ride, we are trying to address this issue and minimise congestion in the centre of Ipswich.

“We do understand it will be missed, but the shuttle bus has always been funded by charging council staff to park.

He added: “Having only one main building in the centre of town means the original reason for the service no longer exists and funding can be diverted to help reduce rush-hour congestion.

“That’s why we’ve decided not to extend the current contract when it expires at the end of July.”

The bus has operated ever since the county council moved from its old headquarters in St Helen’s Street to Endeavour House in 2004.

It is financed by the car parking fees paid by county council employees who use the authority’s own multi-storey car park on Constantine Road.

The new campaign will remind employees of travel options available to them.

It will run a six-month trial to get more staff using the town’s regular Park and Ride service.

Starting on August 1, the trial will use the money from staff parking charges to subsidise staff use of the Park and Ride service to get to and from work.

28 comments

  • Ipswich Borough Council has bailed out Ipswich Buses at the tune of a quarter of a million pounds of council tax payers money secured by floating charge with negative pledge. Losing various contracts has almost destroyed the bus company. Would be nice if Ipswich Star would have investigated this as I can find nothing from the council disclosing they have done this. Not a massive amount but still rather substantial.

    Report this comment

    NorthernBypass

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

  • Going to cover several things here. I've been using the service for over 10 years, as a disabled person not entitled to free travel it was very handy for me personally. A petition to save this service put the passenger figures at 500 per day. That is a lot of lost revenue for local businesses in the town centre at lunchtime etc. Now we see why First were "suddenly" given the P&R contract as a commercial concern, clearly SCC earmarked this pot of money and offered it as part of the deal. I know many commentators were wondering at the time how First would be able to make it pay. Now we know. Finally I of course realise the complexity of running these things is beyond an average Joe. However, this average Joe thinks there is a distinct lack of common sense in some of these decisions.

    Report this comment

    K Mcc

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • Some of you keyboard warriors would moan and complain about anything, especially if it is done by a council and especially if that council were tory. Cant believe there are so many opinions about a service that almost definitely none of you ever used and a service which has always been paid for by SCC employees. THIS IS NOT A TORY CUT - SCC are spending the money on something else, why should their staff subsidise the travel of IBC employees Amsterdam81 - good job you are not in charge of the finances. Some facts for you. SCC actually has useable reserves of £194 million much more than you stated. Currently SCC are running a deficit close to £45million meaning using the current spending model the reserves will run out in 5-6 years. The only option would be for people to pay more in tax or for central government to increase the grant which they will only do by increasing our tax. Also for all you moaning about SCC not caring about ipswich - In the 20162017 budget SCC spent 21% of its money in Ipswich where there are 18% of Suffolk citizens living. The rest of Suffolk thinks SCC spends too much in Ipswich! Finally regarding traffic - Believe it or not but SCC do not prioritise just car drivers. Everything has to be planned with the environment in mind. All councils have to take air pollution into account which is why lots of big decisions often do not seem to make sense to the general public. I would love some of you to have a few days trying to work for IBC or SCC to see just how difficult it is to balance all the spending and priorities. Whatever decisions are made the keyboard warriors will tell them where they went wrong and how they could do it better.

    Report this comment

    Crusader

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • @Steve W, oh I always thought it did, you would have thought that it would had considering it was meant to get you around the town. Anyway it serves the council offices on grafton way which is a stones throw away so near enough! You can just jump on the 66 or similar services and get off outside Royal mail, sorted! I did always find this service strange as over the years the main services have been reduced or even cut citing cost cutting so why this service remained seemed a little strange as logically this would have been the first to go if cost cutting was needed mainly because it made no money due to it being free but also there are alternatives available. Mind you I doubt SCC think logically especially when you look at projects such as travel ipswich!!

    Report this comment

    mr_tall

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • Why not let Councillors continue this theme by issuing them all with bus passes to keep in line with the Park & Ride policy. All these Councillors coming to meetings in Ipswich would have their car mileage expenses cut as they would drive to a Park & Ride and use their bus passes to get in and out of the town centre. What are the odds on this example being set. No doubt there would be many of them sending apologies for non attendance at meetings if they can't keep their snouts in the expenses trough.

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • Never have understood why SCC had its own carpark let alone the free shuttle bus. To suggest this bus was available to all was always nonsense. Only employees would have any need to travel on the route it followed. I doubt the council believed their hype. The real question for SCC is why they have such large reserves. £100m must be similar to the tax bill of Suffolk for a year so isn't it time we have a tax free year?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • Suffolk County Council cannot be trusted. Star Lane system was ill thought of. Travel Ipswich was a disaster. They withdrew the service subsidy for Park and Ride - this reduced the frequency and is pushing up the cost of the service. Some clever alec realised by investing money into the service could be beneficial to the green travel plan. So the way forward is to encourage staff to use Park & Ride to avoid paying car park charges. They could have continued the subsidy but with the staff car parking charges instead. What we will now have is a service rather too infrequent and costly for non-council workers; while the same money is going into subsiding the service (at least for the 6 month trial from staff car parking fees). The result is a P&R service only beneficial to council workers. What SCC should have said is the operator is to serve Russell Road and provide a free service to council workers with appropriate ID while continuing the subsidy from a different pot of money, allowing the operator to keep fares. If this was decided months ago, the service could be increased to every 10 minutes... It is this reason why Upper Orwell Crossings is not an option. Two years will take five years for Suffolk Highways, and you can guarantee roadworks popping up to force people into using the bridge (or not as the case might be).

    Report this comment

    NorthernBypass

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • The issue isn't SCC employees paying to park which will allow free parking at P&R. The issue is Tory cuts of withdrawing Park & Ride subsidy, which has gone from a fully subsidised service, to half-commercial under the current Ipswich Buses run P&R to now a fully commercial service next month under First. We are made to believe that SCC will only cover the costs of the sites - not the bus service, however, in true stupidity the decision is now to withdraw the free shuttle and replacing this with a P&R usage trial. What am I getting at? Well, the staff car parking fees could have comfortably subsidised the entire Ipswich P&R service, and now we are left with 4 buses an hour instead of 5! I am all for council workers subsidising the P&R service to get free travel (they currently get discounted travel) - it was when they decided to go to the railway station instead of Russell Road when council workers stopped using it in big numbers. So, SCC has removed the subsidy for P&R, they are trialling giving the subsidy back (in effect with a different pot of money) to allow free transport for workers but due to their previous knee jerk reaction this has already damaged the service by decreased frequency and the sites won't be staffed. As it is fully commercial from next month it is unlikely the operator First will increase frequency which will cut into their profits.

    Report this comment

    NorthernBypass

    Friday, June 16, 2017

  • @mr_tall The shuttle doesn't serve the train station.

    Report this comment

    Steve W

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Always thought it was pointless and a waste from the start, it was always empty or near empty when I use to see it. It's not difficult to walk from Tower ramparts to the train station. If you still need a bus to that area use alternatives such as number 66 or number 13 etc. Right decision as there are many alternatives to take you around the town.

    Report this comment

    mr_tall

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • If you vote Tory you get cuts. I don't know why people struggle with that so much. Also, just to reiterate salmonman's point, the bus is not free. It's paid for using car parking charges from SCC buildings. The Tories are literally stealing the public service from under your noses. Wake up.

    Report this comment

    ShimmyMcGee

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Why oh why does everything have to be such a conspiracy? Everybody always thinks that every decision made is done to try and be nasty to people. Anybody that reads the whole article will see that scc have decided on a new policy. It's their staff's money so they are using it to provide subsidised travel for their staff as part of a wider green policy. I do hope IBC do not think of using Council tax money to keep the service going. No way I should pay for other people, as well as myself, to get to work.

    Report this comment

    Crusader

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Why oh why does everything have to be such a conspiracy? Everybody always thinks that every decision made is done to try and be nasty to people. Anybody that reads the whole article will see that scc have decided on a new policy. It's their staff's money so they are using it to provide subsidised travel for their staff as part of a wider green policy. I do hope IBC do not think of using Council tax money to keep the service going. No way I should pay for other people, as well as myself, to get to work.

    Report this comment

    Crusader

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • ..and still there is a department at SCC consisting of 3 managers (min salary £32000 each) who 'manage' a total of nine co workers (min salary £29000). All doing near identical jobs.

    Report this comment

    david rowson

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • No doubt the upper echelon will set an example and use the P & R system! Well they will won't they? Ah, yes bikes! So thoughtful of the Council responsible to provide cycle lanes and what a nice touch to call them pavements, footpaths and pedestrianised areas. Sheer genius!

    Report this comment

    Cynical Sid

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • I broke this news on my blog on May 3rd.the decision was taken before the Election was called, while Ben Gummer was still in his seat. It is just the result of the constant infighting between Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council. Oh and to those who clearly have never used the service anyone can use it to get from one part of town to another, not just Council workers so a lot of people will miss it. Maybe a 50p flat fare and it would pay for itself.

    Report this comment

    Steve W

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • So SCC waste 21million creating traffic mayhem as they want everyone to use public transport then they withdraw the transport. Which hair brained dreamed this up I wonder. Typical toryism, know the cost of everything and value of nothing. Shame on everyone who voted blue last week and last month. You reap what you sow. At least we are no longer lumbered with Little Gummer Boy.

    Report this comment

    TheMainMan

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • I announced this on my blog on May 3rd - see https:busandtrain.blogspot.co.uk201705ipswich-news.html This decision was made before the election was even announced so WHILE Ben Gummer was in his seat. The decision has nothing to do with parliamentary politics, and everything to do with the in fighting between the Borough and County Councils.

    Report this comment

    Steve W

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Too those people who keep posting that this was a 'free' shuttle bus - it was NOT free. It was paid for and maintained by the levy placed on SCC employees who pay - and continue to pay to park at the staff car parks, not just at Endeavour House but at Landmark House, West Suffolk House and the new build in Lowestoft. This levy is defended by the councils 'Green travel plan' policy which is meant to dissuade staff to use nasty polluting cars to get to work, in favour of other green methods of transport - ie bikes and walking. All really practical for a rural serving employer! But not ALL those at SCC pay to park. ALL councillors are exempt from ANY carparking charges. The police who use Landmark House are not charged to park there - instead a charge is made centrally by the police for their employees - allegidly. The same applies to the NHS staff who are based at Endeavour House. So now SCC have abolished the shuttle bus, how are they now going to justify the car park charge that they force on their staff??? Oh, and the carpark is used on match days by Ipswich Football club, but this is free and they only allow VIP and gold card holders to use the same carpark that SCC charge it's staff for, for free. If anyone can argue the fairness in a scheme that charges some staff to park, others not, and football fans no charge to use the same carpark at the same time, then give it a go.

    Report this comment

    salmonman

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Nothing is ever "free". Someone has to ultimately pay for the servicing of the vehicle, fuel and the drivers. Although there are exceptions, generally speaking the public sector doesn't create wealth but demands, by use of force in extremis, revenue by way of taxes, fines, licence fees, registration fees etc etc from the wealth creators, small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as residents and then claim to provide "free" services.

    Report this comment

    Steve Blake

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Free bus was never fair to other people, why should I have to pay for my bus journey, while others get the free shuttle. Good it's gone. Every time I saw it, it was empty. Money saved.

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Man

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Dalesman ,Of course this service would have been scrapped if B Gummer was still MP,its the Tories that implemented massive cuts to all public services and new austerity plans were in the Tory manifesto,written by B Gummer,

    Report this comment

    kris-p-duck

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • SCC appear to be accelerating their scheme for doing nothing but bad things for Ipswich. It is either the most cunning long-term game-plan, or they are simply spiteful little people with their focus on the more affluent parts of Suffolk. All hail Bury St Edmunds as new county town, probably twinned with Woodbridge for good measure.

    Report this comment

    OldBoy

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Many local employers do not provide any sort of parking and certainly not a free shuttle bus.

    Report this comment

    Tolly

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Many local employers do not provide any sort of parking and certainly not a free shuttle bus.

    Report this comment

    Tolly

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • The two drivers of this bus are the nicest and most helpful one could wish to meet. Hope a place is found for you elsewhere. Good luck.

    Report this comment

    Brian Ball

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • @Dalesman This decision was made months ago, but SCC haven't wanted it out there for reasons they must know best, probably so new MP would take flack if got in. Would have been announced differently I have no doubt if BG had got back in. Says a lot that IBC were not informed of decision either. Feel for Chris and Richard who have given exemplary service for 12 yrs on the shuttle and now have to look for other options. Good luck boys, hope ye future is bright.

    Report this comment

    Irene Wragg

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

  • Would this service have been scrapped if Ben Gummer had held on to his Ipswich seat ? I doubt it , another spiteful action by Suffolk County Council.

    Report this comment

    Dalesman

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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