Ipswich Borough Council took the decision in November 2009 to close and demolish the Crown Car Park, which has a capacity for 1,000 vehicles, for health and safety reasons because of structural problems with the reinforced concrete building. The car park has fulfilled an important function for town centre businesses and shops and for major events taking place in Christchurch Park, the Corn Exchange and the Regent Theatre. After demolition it will be possible to provide a surface car park with a capacity of approximately 300 vehicles, and an increase on this number if one of the tiers can be retained. Arrangements have been made to provide some alternative car parks.
Reductions in frequency and a limited number of withdrawals of local bus services have been announced. The reasons are increases in the costs of operation and a reduction in the number of fare paying passengers during the recession.
Nearly all the bus services within the town are operated on a commercial basis, whereas the Park and Ride services receive a very large subsidy from Suffolk County Council, which enables a return fare of £2.90 to be charged for a group of up to five passengers. This fare is approximately equal to that charged for one person on a similar return journey on a commercially operated bus service, although there are some reductions for regular users of the services.
It will be appreciated that bus travel is very expensive for family groups, and Ipswich Buses have recently addressed this matter by introducing a fare of £3.00 for an unlimited number of journeys by a family group of up to five people. This facility is available after 3 pm on Mondays to Fridays and all day at weekends and on Bank Holidays.
In June 2009 Ipswich Buses commenced operating services within the grounds of the Ipswich Hospital enabling passengers to alight from and board buses very close to the entrances to the Garrett Anderson Centre and the South Wards. First Buses commenced a similar service in November 2009 with buses operating the No 75 Ipswich to Felixstowe service. Altogether this now provides a total of nine buses per hour from the hospital to the town centre with a selection of different routes. The number reduces to four buses per hour in the evenings and all day on Sundays. The cross-town Park and Ride service operating between Copdock and Martlesham also serves the Ipswich Hospital at ten minute intervals on Mondays to Saturdays from approximately 7am to 7pm. Passengers alight and board these buses close to the Woodbridge Road East entrance to the hospital.
A project is in progress to install lifts and a bridge at Ipswich railway station to provide a link between platforms 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 for passengers unable to use the existing footbridge. The previous facility was demolished in 1985 when the Ipswich to London line was electrified. Since this time passengers have been escorted across the rail tracks by a member of staff.
National Express, the company holding the franchise for the operation of passenger trains in East Anglia, has encountered financial problems. The company has surrendered the franchise of the East Coast main line linking London with the north-east of England and Scotland. It had retained the franchise for East Anglia but it was announced by the Government today that the franchise will be terminated in 2011, without the option of a three year extension.