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Town’s bus link to London under serious threat

By Jo Deeks on Thursday, 2nd May 2002.

Haverhill’s only direct bus service to London is under threat and worried commuters fear they will be left stranded.

One passenger, who asked not to be named, said she moved to Haverhill six years ago because there was a daily coach service and she could commute to her city job.

A new service has been created with a bus service to Stansted airport, continuing by train to London, but season ticket holders on the existing service say this would work out far too expensive for them.

“People are really getting worried — it is their livelihood. The roadworks on the M11 have put people off, but when that is finished it is a Lovely journey. There are a lot of people moving down from London and I am sure a lot of them don’t know the service exists,” the passenger said.

Burton Coaches of Haverhill took over the direct service last year and managing director Paul Cooper said he was currently reviewing whether it would continue.

Since a subsidy from Suffolk County Council had been withdrawn and passenger numbers had dropped, the service was no longer covering its costs.

Another operator was giving up a service in the Saffron Walden and Newport area and Mr Cooper would see if any passengers could be picked up from that before making a decision. If the subsidy were restored by the county council he would happily continue the service.

“I hope to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. If it is to stop we will give at least two weeks notice and refund season ticket holders. We do realise it will inconvenience regular users, but if we continue to run services that are not viable it could jeopardise other services.

“We have made a considerable investment in promoting the service in the hope that numbers would improve, but still only average about 20 people,” Mr Cooper said.

Peter Turner, assistant director of environment and transport for Suffolk County Council, said decisions regarding the route’s future would be made by the operator.

He was aware the route was being reviewed and hoped to be kept informed of the outcome.

“The county council’s past involvement with the route involved a temporary six-month subsidy last year which was granted when another commercial operator went out of business,” Mr Turner said.

Gerry Kiernan county councillor for Haverhill, said he was concerned about any loss of bus services to the town and would look into the matter if passengers asked him to.

Haverhill Weekly News

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