The reputation of First Buses in Norwich has reached an all time low as the bus routes, especially the 25 and 25A, have become increasingly unreliable.
Following an online plea to readers and followers of @Concrete_UEA, several students sent in their experiences of the First Bus service in Norwich. Complaints included late arrivals leading to missed seminars and appointments; rude drivers and confusing route changes.
The attitude of certain drivers has also received complaints. One third year student told Concrete:
“The girl in front of me in the queue got on the bus and asked the driver how much it was a single to wherever she was going, and the driver proceeded to shout at her that he was half an hour late and didn’t know.
“She rummaged in her purse for some change, and he told her to get off and that he wouldn’t wait for her. In the end he left her at the side of the road.”
He also said: “Last academic year, on a 21/22 into the city late at night, every other bus takes a slightly different route. An angry woman didn’t realise this and asked the driver to stop to let her off even though there wasn’t a stop, and he refused (which was fair enough).
“They ended up in a massive shouting match. She was standing near the doors, she was being abusive and he got really angry, refused to stop the bus and drove past several stops (he was trying to get her as far away from where she wanted to get off as possible, just to piss her off some more), and kept speeding up and slamming on his brakes in an attempt to knock her over.
“He succeeded, and in the process threw everyone else on the bus into the seat in front of them a number of times (it was late, there were only a few people on the bus). Eventually she got off, in the dark, a long way from her stop.”
Further complaints highlighted where the newly-revised routes actually take people. One post-graduate from Bowthorpe said:
“This route has undergone so many revisions it’s a joke, but they never put updated timetables at any of the stops. I now live round the West Earlham area off Dereham Road and there’s no service from there to the UEA, it’s walkable, but for less able people it must be a problem.”
They went on to say: “They’re just not reliable. They never stick to timetable. You never should rely on the last bus, because it might not come and then you’re left out in the cold. That’s happened to me. Once I had a rude bus driver shut the door in face because I asked him where he going because there hadn’t been a bus going my way for a long time and I knew that sometimes the bus drivers forget to change their signs when they change direction.
“Also, where the bus drivers change over at Castle Meadow can be a nightmare, because some just don’t turn up. I was late for my PhD interview here because of that happening.”
Concrete also received complaints about the price of the tickets that are affecting many of First’s student customers, which become increasingly expensive year after year. Students are now asked to pay £210 for a bus pass for what many believe to be an unreliable service.
Customer services at First have been known to help when they can. Their Twitter account @FirstNorwich, for example, does regularly offer assistance to people who are angry at the service.
When asked for a comment First Buses said: “We are aware of issues on certain journeys in the new ‘colour branded’ Norwich Network. Our local Commercial Team have taken these issues extremely seriously, and timetable changes will be registered to improve the punctuality and reliability where possible.”