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Petition calls for changes to a First bus route in Norwich to be reversed

PUBLISHED: 11:00 19 January 2012

Tash Ross, left, community and students rights officer at the UEA student's union, with other students upset that First buses are changing their routes. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tash Ross, left, community and students rights officer at the UEA student's union, with other students upset that First buses are changing their routes. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2012

More than 250 people have signed a petition calling for First to reverse changes to a bus route that used to serve the University of East Anglia.

Until this week, the 21/22 service ran throughout the year from the UEA to the city centre via the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), Bowthorpe and West Earlham.

But now the UEA is no longer on the route. First no longer has a direct link between the UEA and hospital, and a number 40 route links the UEA with Bowthorpe and West Earlham at peak times in term time only.

City councillor Samir Jeraj is among those campaigning for the old bus route to be reinstated and has set up a petition.

A joint statement from Mr Jeraj, pictured above, and Tash Ross of the Union of UEA Students said: “First did not consult passengers or the Union of UEA Students regarding the changes. Passengers who bought a season ticket at the beginning of the academic year will lose up to £200 as the tickets they bought become useless.

“It was extremely poor of First not to consult their customers. We urge them to look at the comments left by petitioners.

“We also criticise the evidence used to make the decision. Previous attempts to close down bus routes have been justified by the data collected by ticketing machines, but this is far from perfect. As far as we are aware, the data does not take into account the season tickets used by most students and previous campaigns have shown that the ticketing data is unreliable.”

The issue was also brought up at Norfolk County Council’s full council meeting on Monday. Paul Wells, Conservative councillor for Bowthorpe, asked if council leader Derrick Murphy would support him in his attempts to convince First to restore the previous route.

Mr Murphy criticised the short notice which preceded the changes to the route and said: “As a former undergraduate at the UEA I prevailed on bus services and I totally support what you are trying to do.”

He said it was vital that students could depend on public transport to get to their studies, rather than having an “extra burden” of finding alternative ways to get there.

A First spokesman said yesterday the company would respond to the issues raised by Mr Jeraj and the Union of UEA Students in due course. First has previously said the decision to alter the service was not taken lightly and follows on from a full and thorough review of the 21/22 service and discussions with the UEA, the N&N and other stakeholders.

Sign the petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the- 2122-and-40-bus-services/

What do you think? Email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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