After an almost traumatic end to the on-again, off-again love story between Norwich bus operator First and the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS), the decision to end the overnight operation of the 25 service has been reversed after talks between First, the Union, UEA and City Councillor Roger Ryan.
First had previously announced plans to withdraw the service between midnight and 05.00. The service, which serves Riverside, Norwich train station, Norwich city centre and UEA, had experienced a drop in passenger numbers, which led to the initial decision. The meeting, which occurred following strong student opposition to the plans, with 3,000 people signing a petition to lobby First to reverse the ending of the overnight service, was described as “positive”, and a solution was arrived at with a revised service being introduced in the early hours of the morning, retaining a link between UEA and the city.
[su_pullquote]Here’s a question: how many of you actually use the number 25 night bus?[/su_pullquote]The revised service will run all year round in the early hours of the morning from Tuesday through to Sunday, subject to review in late autumn.
The new timetable will now see the buses running hourly, instead of half-hourly, via Unthank Road, with the last bus from the Rail Station at 02.45 and the last bus from UEA at 03.15.
Jo Swo, the UUEAS welfare, community and diversity officer said ‘‘I am delighted to see that First Bus listened to the thousands of students and community members who voiced their opposition through the Student Union’s ‘Save the Night Bus’ campaign. Bus travel is a crucial lifeline for our students and staff, and we’re thrilled that following discussions we have retained a night service and the heavily discounted full year student bus pass”.
Steve Wickers, First’s business director, added that he was “pleased to have been able to provide an alternative solution. We run a very comprehensive timetable throughout the day and evening, as well as early mornings, that staff and students can use. Partnerships are key in being able to work together to deliver solutions which is testament to this outcome”.
The Business Director went on to say that he “would encourage and like to see more people adopt the bus as their primary option for travel and with the UEA bus pass being great value for money, it’s an attractive and cost effective option to travel around the city”.
[su_spoiler title=”Sam McKinty asks if the night bus really needed saving” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Comment”]Here’s a question: how many of you actually use the number 25 night bus? Well, hopefully at least 3,000 of you, because that’s how many people signed a petition keep the overnight operation of the number 25 running.
At £3 a pop for a return ticket, the First bus service in Norwich is an affordable way to get around, if you’re on your own – it certainly beats the £6 for a taxi into town. But what about the evening? Is the bus quite so affordable, and quite such a good deal, when four people can get a taxi, to your front door, for £1.50 a head? Misguided freshers stumbling around the city during Fresher’s week aside, most of us will struggle to count the number on the fingers of one hand the amount of times we’ve taken the bus home from Mantra.
Many see bus transport as a safe, cost effective way of travelling at night in Norwich, but a police report from early 2015 showed that 18% of reported harassment in Norwich occurred on public transport. With that in mind, are busses really the safe, cost effective form of public transport that it’s been portrayed at in the campaign? Especially due to the fact that maintaining the night service came at the expense of First lowering ticket prices.
We all know how much our SU loves to protest, but with the cost of living – even with an NUS card – so high, maintenance grants facing the axe and shocking coursework return times dragging down UEA’s satisfaction rating, could their energy not have been better spent elsewhere?[/su_spoiler]