Stephensons cuts back Bury St Edmunds Breeze 2 bus service

Stephensons of Essex has made changes to its Breeze 2 service
Stephensons of Essex has made changes to its Breeze 2 service
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A bus company has started running a reduced off-peak service in Bury St Edmunds in an attempt to keep the route viable.

Breeze 2 buses used to operate between the town centre and the Westley and Horinger estates roughly every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm.

This week the service was cut back to run an hourly operation between 9am and 2.30pm weekdays only.

Bill Hiron, managing director of Stephensons of Essex, which has run the service since First withdrew from it in 2012, said it had been running at a ‘huge loss’, falling short of covering its operating costs by many tens of thousands of pounds annually.

He said as a ‘wholly commercial’ service it relies on the income from passengers to pay for its operation and concessionary passholders, for which Stephensons is reimbursed less than half the average ‘cash’ fare, make up a large percentage of users.

He said: “After much consideration, we had to take the decision to act. We did consider complete withdrawal, but were conscious this would have even greater consequences.

“Nevertheless, we will have to review usage continuously, and if the losses remain too great, even that service level will be under threat.”

While recognising it could only survive by making a profit, Cllr Paul Hopfensperger said cutting the service had caused upset, with a number of residents no longer able to use it to get to work for 9am.

He said: “People are irate that this has just happened and they don’t understand why.

“The bus service is supposed to be a public service which provides people with a service they can use for the purpose they need it. How many people start work after 9am? Not many.”