Kids 'roaming the city' before school as bus service reduction causes havoc

First bus. Picture: Edward Starr

First bus. Picture: Edward Starr - Credit: Edward Starr Photographer

Cancellations to Norwich bus services are causing disruption for kids trying to get to school as a driver shortage continues to cause chaos. 

First Buses has introduced a temporary timetable for a number of Network Norwich and Excel routes across the city as it continues to recruit and train new drivers.

Among the places impacted is Costessey where three well-used rush hour services serving schoolchildren have been altered.

The Costessey village sign (photo: Denise Bradley)

The Costessey village sign (photo: Denise Bradley) - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Costessey parent Lara Bayfield's daughter uses the 23A service which goes through Longwater Lane, Old Costessey and Dereham Road on the way into the city.

The mother said: "You can imagine my surprise to be advised with only a weeks' notice that three full buses mainly transporting children were to be replace by either a 7.21am service or 8.31am.

"In essence we either have children roaming the city from 7.45am in the morning with an hour or so to kill with nothing open, or an 8.31am service, that will struggle to get into Norwich by 9am." 

The timetables came into effect from Sunday, November 14. 

Steve Wickers, managing director at First Eastern Counties explained: "We have introduced temporary changes to manage the driver shortage situation that is being experienced by us and many other bus operators.

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"We will continue to communicate any further changes that need to be introduced to keep our services reliable and we will concentrate on delivering journeys and services where there is demand.

"All buses on our Red Line service are now double deck which increases the seating capacity on this route. I am confident that the changes we have introduced will only be temporary however I want to apologise to our customers who may be affected.”  

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis raised his concern over the downscaled service, pointing out the pandemic highlighted how vital public services are. 

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South. Photo: Mark Tillie

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South. Photo: Mark Tillie - Credit: photograph by mark tillie

Mr Lewis said: "More people on buses means fewer people in cars which, in turn, means lower carbon emissions. We have the existential threat of climate breakdown looming over all of us.

"There really is no choice but to make services like public transport a priority."

Full details of the changes and PDF timetables can be found on the First website.