All change for Dereham bus timetable
A Dereham bus company is extending its most popular route around the town – but admitted some marginal services will be cut back due to reduced transport subsidies.
Konectbus, which operates about 100 daily departures from Dereham, will implement a new timetable on Sunday with schedule changes on more than half of its routes.
The main change will be the merger of the daily Number 1 Toftwood Circular with the Norwich-bound Number 8, with the combined service operating longer hours, with more buses, and also running on Sundays.
Although leaving at different times than previously, the new Number 8 will maintain the half-hourly service from Toftwood’s residential stops to the town centre, while also offering passengers an onward route to Norwich.
But the timetable changes have angered some customers in outlying areas, whose transport options will be limited as the frequency of buses is reduced in places like Scarning, Wendling and Sandy Lane.
Julian Patterson, operations director at Konectbus, said cuts in county transport subsidies meant they could no longer afford to run the same level of service on lesser-used routes.
“We are improving the service for the majority of people, but there will be a few people who will be affected by reduced services on the quieter routes,” he said.
“The reason we have done this is that Norfolk County Council had to save half a million pounds from their subsidy budget, and that means we need to cut back to reflect demand on the services.
“It is not something we wanted to do, but it is about making the best use of our resources and not wasting money.
“In some parts of the county, services have been slashed completely, but here we have managed to maintain services to everywhere without cutting anyone off completely.
“Some people mistakenly thought the Number 1 was finished, but it will simply become the Number 8 and there will be more buses than before.”
The Number 2 will now only run between Moorgate and the town centre, with Wendling and Scarning shifted onto a reduced service, renamed Number 20. Meanwhile the Number 12 to Highfield Road will only make four journeys a day and will no longer run on Saturdays, while Sandy Lane will only be available on limited journeys towards Fakenham on the Number 7.
Town councillor and regular bus user Linda Goreham said: “My biggest concern, other than the fact these changes are going to drastically affect so many people’s lives, is that it has been done without consulting with customers.
“A few odd timetables are not enough while so many people are blissfully unaware what is going on. Konectbus may say that people still have a bus, but it will not be the same service.
“I can envisage a lot of people waiting at bus stops in Scarning, for instance, and they won’t have a clue that the bus won’t be coming.”
Mr Patterson said the changes had been advertised on the Konectbus website and updated timetables had been distributed in buses and shops during the last two weeks. He said if the changes had been announced earlier, it could have caused confusion with customers using the existing timetable.
Norfolk County Council transport spokesman John Birchall said there were likely to be more cuts in future as the authority battled with its own reductions in government funding.
“This year we are saving more than £400,000 in subsidies but we have managed to do that by re-organising rather than changing services. But we will need to find another £1m next year, so there will be more cuts in the future.
“We recognise that when bus services are reduced some people will find things more difficult, and we have been working very hard with bus companies to minimise those effects.”
Summary of the Konectbus timetable changes, applicable from July 24:
1 This route is now covered by route 8.
1A Now numbered 19 with minor changes to times.
2 Now runs between Moorgate and town only. Wendling covered by route 20.
3 Minor changes to times. Buses now depart from stand 2 in Norwich Bus Station.
4 Minor changes to times.
5 No change.
6 Now departs Norwich Bus Station at ten past the hour from Stand 2. No longer serves St Stephens Street.
6A New service from Attleborough to Norwich every hour.
7 Revised times and some buses now run via Sandy Lane/Wordsworth Drive in Dereham.
8 Now runs every 30 minutess all day and replaces route 1 around Toftwood. Also runs Sundays.
9 Minor changes to times.
10 No change.
11 Revised timetable.
12 Revised timetable and no service on Saturdays.
13 No change.
13A No change.
14 Minor changes to times.
15 No change.
16 No change.
17 No change.
18 No change.
19 Was 1A.
20 Was part of route 2. Limited service to Wendling and Old Scarning via Brooks Drive.
Full timetable information is at www.konectbus.co.uk.