Sudbury Vision
The Sudbury Meadows threatened by the Bypass

Improve Bus Services

Long Melford was known as the bus capital of East Anglia in the 1990's. There were bus services every few minutes reaching Sudbury, Colchester, Ipswich, Haverhill (and hence Cambridge) Bury St. Edmunds and Stowmarket. Services ran seven days a week.

Sudbury gained a lot from these services. Indeed services were well used, but like every rural bus service required Subsidies from The County Council to run economically.

Subsidising bus services is a political choice. Since the 1990's the prevailing political and economic argument is that bus services should be less subsidised and if that makes them uneconomic to run, should not run.

Consequently in 2017 if you live in Sudbury you cannot work in Haverhill unless you have a car. Equally if you work in Halstead or Braintree and live in Sudbury you need a car to commute. Want to commute to Cambridge by Public Transport, sorry that is entirely impossible unless you like a 3 to 4 hour commute.

Bus at Sudbury Bus Station

Of course it requires a complete change in Transport Policy for any investment in Public Transport Services to be even contemplated.

In Suffolk, Public Transport is seen as the Cinderella form of Transport (alongside cycling and walking). The considered wisdom is that subsidising Public Transport is a luxury. Supposed economic orthodoxy since 1979 is that Public Transport should have as little Public Subsidy as possible and should as far as possible live or die by Free market rules. Any service that is not profitable to run by a private operator should not run.

We are the only country in the world that believes this economic orthodoxy. Consequently we have the lowest levels of rural Bus use in the G11. This is because most countries have the logical theory that a buses should be offered as an affordable alternative to the Private Car. As a consequence Public Transport use is higher and fares are much lower in similar economies to the UK, Holland, Germany, Belgium and France. The basis of this is that the social benefit of providing Public Transport outweighs the clear social disbenefit of more private car use, traffic congestion and traffic pollution.

So we need a complete seed change in the way the economics of Public Transport are considered. This will undoubtedly be a challenge and may need Central Government Support since the most Progressive Councillors at District and County level don't have the power to enact change.