Ruffley Takes Bus Company To Task Over New Bus Nightmare

Wednesday, 8 September, 2004

David Ruffley has written to John Pope, Managing Director of First Eastern Counties Buses, following a deluge of complaints from constituents about the unreliability of the bus services in Bury St Edmunds and dissatisfaction with the new timetables.

Bury St Edmunds Town Council have called a public meeting to discuss this issue on Friday, 1 October at 6.30 p.m. at the Corn Exchange in Bury at which David Ruffley will be on the platform with local councillors. Representatives from First Eastern Counties have been invited to attend.

David said: 'Many of my constituents who rely on these bus services are being badly let down by First Eastern Counties. Improvements need to be made- and fast. My constituents deserve a better service so I will be keeping up the pressure on the bus company to put things right as a matter of urgency.

I invite anyone concerned about the bus services in the town to attend the Town Council's public meeting at the Corn Exchange on Friday, 1st October and express their views. Representatives from First Eastern Counties have been invited and people should take the opportunity to put their views direct to the company at the meeting. The strength of feeling on this issue is huge and I am expecting a large turnout'

Text of letter to John Pope, Managing Director, First Eastern Counties Buses Ltd:

I am being inundated with complaints about the bus services in Bury St Edmunds- both in terms of reliability and discontent with the new timetables.

Such is the dissatisfaction in the town that it was front page news in the Bury Free Press last Friday- no doubt you will have seen it.

Not only are my constituents in some areas of the town unhappy about the new timetables but many of the services are unreliable, often leaving passengers stranded or having to wait 45 minutes for services that are scheduled at 15 minute intervals.

In consequence, many of my older constituents, who frankly deserve to be treated with more care and respect, have contacted me to express their concerns. Do you think it is acceptable for older citizens to wait 45 minutes rather than 15? I believe this is utterly unacceptable treatment of my constituents.

Younger constituents who have to travel to work have also contacted me because they are unable to get to their jobs on time. I also find this totally unacceptable.

I should be grateful, therefore, if you could let me have a detailed explanation of why things are going wrong- I do not want just a general apology for the failings in the service.

Is it just mechanical failure? If so, it would suggest there is a lack of investment in vehicles and equipment.

Or is the problem shortage of staff? If this is the case, what are the reasons for your inability to recruit adequate staff to run the services reliably?

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.