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Anger over changes to ‘lifeline’ bus service

PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:40 02 July 2020

Residents from Linacre Avenue and surrounding streets near the 11A bus stop that is no longer in use. (From left) Jane Blyth, June Brock, Maureen Simpkins, Linn Warren and Carol Jacobs. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Residents from Linacre Avenue and surrounding streets near the 11A bus stop that is no longer in use. (From left) Jane Blyth, June Brock, Maureen Simpkins, Linn Warren and Carol Jacobs. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

Angry bus passengers are worried about becoming isolated after a “lifeline” service stopped running along a well-populated street.

The 11A pink line First service has stopped on Falcon Road West and Linacre Avenue in Sprowston for several decades before stopping at Tesco Extra supermarket on Blue Boar Lane.

It then goes onto the new housing development near Sprowston Manor Golf Club, before returning along Wroxham Road, through the city centre and ending at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But it has not gone down Linacre Avenue, which has three stops, for the past three weeks and bus timetables have been taken down, according to residents from the road who now have to walk to Wroxham Road to catch the bus.

First said as services returned to normal, it had needed to consider how it could make best use of its resources, adjusting frequencies and suspending services in some “lightly-used” sections of routes.

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.”

She added people who worked, including hospital staff, used the bus.

“The buses were running up here when coronavirus lockdown started and no-one was on them. Now people want to access them they have been taken off the road,” she added.

Residents claim they were not notified about the changes.

The residents said they mainly use the bus to visit the GP surgery, Tesco supermarket, post office and hospital and claim many could not walk to and from the Wroxham Road bus stops easily due to health issues and during adverse weather.

Carol Jacobs, 77, said: “It is frustrating. We need the bus reinstated. We are angry.”

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David Jordan, marketing manager for First Eastern Counties Buses, said: “As we work to return our services back towards pre-Covid-19 levels, we have had to consider very closely how we can make best use of our resources to provide frequent links with sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the majority of our passengers across our network as far as possible.

“In doing so, we have had to adjust frequencies in some areas and suspend services to a very small number of lightly used sections of some routes where more frequent services can be accessed at an alternative location.

“If people have not used a bus for some time due to lockdown, I want to remind them that there are new safety measures in place to keep everyone safe.

“It is now a legal requirement to wear a face covering when boarding and travelling by bus and there are also social distancing measures in place on board.

“We also advise people to download our mobile app which enables customers to live track not only the location of their next bus but also its available capacity.”

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