Backlash from communities over changes to bus service
- Credit: IAN BURT
The announcement that a bus service currently serving a route from Kings Lynn to Norwich is to be taken on by a new provider and heavily modified has caused fury among affected communities.
When the X29 route is taken over by First on April 3, it will be cut to only serve the area between Fakenham and Norwich and within that, the village of Foulsham will be cut entirely.
Residents say that cutting Foulsham will isolate the community but First said the decision was made after a risk assessment found the narrow roads in the village do not meet the requirements for high capacity double and single deck buses.
Foulsham resident, Vikki Powles, has written an in-depth letter to First and the county council. In it she questions the claim that they cannot operate the double deck buses, noting current operator Stagecoach often uses them without any issues.
She also states that the new timetable will cause problems for people who work in Fakenham because under the new timetable, the first bus to arrive in Fakenham from the Norwich will be 10.05am rather than 8.44am, as it is at present.
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Jean Shepherd uses the service for that purpose. “This change affects people who have jobs in Fakenham. How are people supposed to get to their jobs in Fakenham on time,” she said.
A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “The withdrawal of the X29 and other Stagecoach services at short notice, on the basis of commercial unsustainability, has presented a considerable and unexpected challenge to both Norfolk County Council and other local bus operators.
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“We are fortunate that First Eastern Counties have stepped in to provide a commercial replacement from April 3 along almost the entire existing X29 route, with a similar frequency and service pattern to that currently available.
“Information about the new service has been sent to the local parish council, as well as being advertised in the local press, on First’s website and on posters along the route.
“It is Norfolk County Council’s intention to ensure the village of Foulsham has sufficient access to public transport and we will review use of this route in the coming months.”