Following changes made by First Eastern Counties Buses Ltd to the routing of their Services 76 and 77 in November 2018, the section of Felixstowe Road between Bishop’s Hill and Bixley Road lost its bus service on Sundays and Bank Holidays (the area is served by Ipswich Buses Service 4 Monday to Saturday daytimes).
The Council decided to request Suffolk County Council (SCC) to carry out a competitive tendering process on the Council’s behalf for the operation of Service 4 on an hourly basis on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes for an 18 month experimental period in order to ascertain whether there is sufficient demand for bus services in this area at these times on these days. Using the same route and service number as is used commercially during the rest of the week helps to avoid any potential confusion to passengers and also has the added benefit of also providing a service on these days to the Broke Hall estate which does not currently have a bus service on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Tendering for the service helps to ensure that the Council obtains ‘best value’.
The results of the tendering exercise have now been received and the Council has decided to enter into a Service Subsidy Agreement with First Eastern Counties Buses Ltd to operate Service 4 on Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes at a cost of £12,455 per annum on the grounds that their bid was the lowest of those received. The service is due to start no later than Sunday 7th April 2019 but the Council will request that the service starts earlier than this if possible, but this will depend on the outcome of an application to the Traffic Commissioner for a Short Notice Dispensation.
The main alternative option would be not to subsidise the service in question. Whilst there is a financial cost to the Council of subsidising bus services which has to be taken into account, in this case the Council’s policies on encouraging the use of sustainable transport including ensuring the provision of a service to this area on the days in question are considered to justify the subsidy for an experimental period. The service subsidy agreement will include a 3 month break clause so that, if circumstances change, the Council is not obligated to provide the level of subsidy for the entire period.
Decision type: Non-key
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Wards affected: Bixley; Holywells; Priory Heath;
Notice of proposed decision first published: 25/01/2019
Decision due: 25 Feb 2019 by Officer Decision
The Portfolio Holder for Transport & Environment has been consulted on this matter and the SE and NE Area Committees have both agreed to provide funding to support the service, as have the county councillors for Bixley, Priory Heath and St. Helen’s divisions.