Ipswich Borough Council continues to support bus services despite soaring costs

Published2nd August 2022

Ipswich Borough Council continues to support bus services despite soaring costs.

Ipswich Borough Council funds some bus services in the town that would not be commercially viable for a bus operator to operate. Although Suffolk County Council are the transport authority with responsibility for supporting bus services, they have been unable or unwilling to support these Ipswich services. The Council has stepped in to subsidise these services to ensure their availability for those who need to travel, particularly at times when the buses are less busy.

Ipswich Borough Council’s current budget for subsidising bus services is £138,000 per year, but the latest tender for these services has seen costs jump by over 40% to £196,000 due to increased costs for diesel, vehicle parts and salaries.

The Council has been able to increase the bus subsidy budget by £30,000 by allocating some of the parking fees charged at Cromwell Square but is unable to find further funds due to its own cost pressures caused by Covid and inflation.

Subject to a decision by the Council’s Executive at its meeting on 9 August, it is likely that the Council will be able to continue to fund:

  • Service 4 (Sundays and Bank Holiday daytime)
  • Service 12 (Monday to Saturday evenings)
  • Service 14 (Monday to Saturday daytime off-peak)
  • Service 15 and 15A (Monday to Saturday evenings)
  • Services 2, 5E, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15/15A on a Sunday and Bank Holiday evenings

However, the Council is unlikely to be able to keep funding services the last service of the day on routes 3E, 5E, 8, 9 and 13. It will, however, seek to reinstate these services if additional funding can be found at a later date.

Cllr Phil Smart, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change at Ipswich Borough Council, says:

“The Council remains committed to bus services in Ipswich but with the funding required so much higher than budget – even with the additional Cromwell Square money - we cannot afford to fund all the bus service that we do at present. I am pleased that we are able to continue supporting most of the existing services.

“If additional funding becomes available or costs come down sufficiently in future, we will reinstate the other services”

The papers for the Executive meeting of Ipswich Borough Council that will consider this proposal are available here (see page 19).