Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer India Edwards has expressed dissatisfaction at the First East Counties Buses, UEA’s primary public transport service.
The officer wrote a blog post titled ‘enough is enough’, marking the latest in a string of disagreements between the union and First Group,. The SU called on students to boycott the service at the end of the last academic year due to a price increase on student tickets.
Ms Edwards published a letter originally sent to the marketing manager for First East Counties Buses, David Jordan. It details concerns that the company is not doing enough to accommodate the increase of 1,000 extra students on campus.
In the letter, Ms Edwards shares her experiences using the 25/26 service to travel to UEA from the city center, stating that she has “had a full bus sail past both me and a long queue of staff and students on multiple occasions this term.”
She also states concerns regarding evening travel in peak times. She said: “Queues repeatedly stretch long beyond the bus stop, wait times have been up to an hour before a bus arrives with capacity for some in the queue, and buses are repeatedly leaving with students standing on the stairs, the top deck and next to the driver – which presumably is unsafe.”
Other issues raised in the letter include the lack of a single ticket option on the M Ticket App, something available to students in other cities across the country.
She concluded in saying “bus service quality is an issue that is consistently at the forefront of students’ minds – something of which I am acutely aware as it is often brought up in conversation when I talk to students.”
Since the publication of the blog post, there has been news of the creation of a First Bus Users forum.
The university is seeking volunteers in both staff and students to share their experiences with First Group, with the inaugural session taking place on Friday 27 October at 12.30 pm. Anybody that wishes to be involved should contact Dawn Dewar.
A spokesperson for First East Counties said: “We have a strong working partnership with colleagues at the UEA that has been built over many years with the objective being to deliver a sustainable, affordable and convenient bus service for students and staff at the university.”
They continued: “We constantly monitor our services and when necessary we will run duplicate buses to meet additional demand, especially in the morning at peak times.”
With regards to the focus group, they said they “encourage any student with an interest in making bus services better for all to put themselves forward.”