Shoppers’ calls answered as bus set to run to Great Yarmouth’s Gapton Hall

Gapton Hall retail park on the edge of Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass

Gapton Hall retail park on the edge of Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Calls for public transport to serve Great Yarmouth's out-of-town retail park have finally been answered with the introduction of a new bus service.

Transport bosses have announced the existing 703 route will be extended to run from the town centre to Gapton Hall retail park, providing a long-awaited service for shoppers.

It is hoped the extension to the 703 will be the first step in paving the way for other services to run up to the out-of-town site.

The bus will run on Wednesdays and Saturdays, travelling from Market Gates to Gapton Hall just before 11am and returning just after 1pm, giving passengers two hours at the site.

Norfolk County Council, which subsidises the route, extended the 703 as part of its review of east Norfolk bus services. County hall bosses have said it is a step in the right direction for residents who have been calling for a route to Gapton for years.

But the new service has received a cautious welcome from a passenger group, which has said it will continue to push for a regular half hour or hourly service to the retail park.

Steve Hewitt, spokesman for the East Norfolk Transport Users Association, said: 'We're encouraged that someone's looking at it but unfortunately it's not enough. There needs to be a regular service.

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'If you want to go to Gapton for shopping you don't want to be tied to going up on a Wednesday or Saturday, you want to be able to pick and chose when you can shop.'

Mr Hewitt said firms such as First and Anglian Bus had not ruled out running a Gapton service but the traffic jams in the area would hinder a bus from running regularly and on time.

The council cited the congestion around Gapton as one of the influences for choosing the new 703 timetable, as it would be running in the area outside peak times and be able to remain reliable.

The new 703 service will be run by Acle-based firm Our Hire from September 2.

As well as serving Caister, Northgate Street and now Gapton Hall, the 703 stops in rural villages including Reedham, Acle and Filby.

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