New ‘lifeline’ bus route announced following residents campaign
PUBLISHED: 18:07 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 21:37 04 August 2020
Campaigners are celebrating after a new bus route was announced to replace one which had been dropped over the coronavirus lockdown.
Fears that passengers would be cut off had led to hundreds of Sprowston residents signing a petition demanding the ‘Linacre Loop’ bus service return.
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The 11A pink line First Eastern Counties service had stopped on Falcon Road West and Linacre Avenue before heading to the Tesco Extra supermarket on Blue Boar Lane.
The route continued to the new housing development near Sprowston Manor Golf Club, before returning along Wroxham Road, through the city centre and terminating at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
However during the coronavirus lockdown period, three stops on Linacre Avenue, known locally as the ‘Linacre Loop’, were removed from the service.
Following the campaign, it has now been confirmed that Linacre Avenue will be on a new service 11B, operated by Konectbus, Monday to Friday from September 6.
The campaign was led by district councillor Natasha Harpley, whose petition was signed by 677 people before Konectbus announced they would operate the route.
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She said: “I’m really pleased that some kind of service will be in place. I would have liked to have had a better response from First – I don’t think it would be right of them to wash their hands of it – but I’m delighted that Konectbus have stepped in.”
She also called on Konectbus to confirm that elderly passengers will be able to use their free bus passes on the route.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “We spoke to lots of residents who were worried about the ‘Linacre Loop’ ceasing, because they can’t walk all the way to Wroxham Road bus stops for the alternative service.
“I’m pleased that Konect has responded to elderly residents’ needs and will run the service from September.”
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Sprowston Town Council had also raised concerns over changes, while people living in the area had said they were not consulted on the changes.
First buses had said that as services returned to normal, it needed to consider how it could make best use of its resources, adjusting frequencies and suspending services in some “lightly-used” sections of routes.
One of the local residents who supported the campaign, Maureen Simpkins, 82, said: “We are getting more isolated here. There are a lot of elderly people who use the bus. But is not just for the old folks. It is a lifeline for people.”
County Councillor John Ward said the campaign had seen their “hard work pay off” with the announcement that Konect Bus will take over the route as an hourly Mon-Fri service, one way from St Stephens to Tesco via Linacre Avenue.
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