Proposed changes to bus service used by just two people
- Credit: Zak Nelson
Changes are being proposed to a bus service that links rural villages to vital services but that is used on average by just two people.
Norfolk County Council is currently undertaking a public consultation on a new timetable for the 84 Konectbus service which runs from Norwich through South Norfolk villages, including Hempnall, Shotesham, Topcroft and Alburgh, to Harleston.
The changes would see the service, which is subsidised by Norfolk County Council to the tune of £122,573 per annum, continue in the morning and afternoon rush hours but be partly replaced by a pre-bookable dial-up minibus service during the day.
Concerns have been raised that the changes risk further isolating people living along the route from vital services in Norwich and Harleston.
Sylvia Driver, who lives in Hempnall Green, said: "In rural South Norfolk a reliable bus service is needed for the growing elderly residents, those with a disability and young people who do not or cannot drive.
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"Harleston is our nearest town with services that are not found in Norwich, as well as dentist, post office and a wide range of shops that service the villages nearby to Harleston.
"I acknowledge that there will still be a two hourly bus service into Norwich from Hempnall village, but the Greens are two miles outside the village and it is both dangerous and difficult to walk, if you are physically able to walk that far."
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Michael Edney, South Norfolk councillor for Hempnall, said: "The passenger numbers during the day, when services would be affected by this, are just 1.9 passengers on average. It is just not commercially viable for Konectbus who run the service.
"We know this may cause problems for certain people who can't get on a scheduled bus service but there will be the dial-up bus or community transport for people who are elderly and want to get to the doctors, dentist or hospital."
The consultation says the 84 service is being re-focused away from Harleston as the 38A service also serves the town.
The changes, which are likely to come in by the end of August, wouold not affect students who attend Framingham Earl from Hempnall, Saxlingham and Shotesham would still be able to use the bus.
For passengers on part of the route a pre bookable service operated by Bordahoppa would cost £3.50 for a door to door journey to Harleston. A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: "We want to support bus operators in the county to run successful and sustainable services. Due to the low use of a small section of the number 84 service serving Alburgh and Denton, it is being proposed that this specific part is replaced with a pre-bookable service, operated by Borderhoppa. The 38A service would continue to serve Harleston, so passengers would continue to have a range of travel options."
To view the consultation, visit the GoAheadBus website