Today we had a meeting with the new Managing Director of First Bus and had an interesting conversation about the state of the service in Norwich. The buses are a hot political topic and I defy any councillors (probably nationwide!) not to have complained about the service in their community. Certainly there are lots of problems in Bowthorpe and Earlham - frequency has improved but the 40 min trip to the City and the lack of punctuality are big issues.
However, the first thing that the MD pointed out, quite rightly, is that the bus service is a business not a public service. He said that many routes are not profitable and gave us some stark statistics on the costs of running a service. It was a frank exchange of views and I think the best thing to come from this is a much clearer understanding of each other's positions.
He also let us know about First's customer contract and said that people should complain if they recieve sub-standard service ... and will be compensated.
I was pleased to learn more about the truth behind the bus service and will put the First customer contract on here when I get it to help people out. The MD has also promised to make himself available to local people more. He was clearly a committed and very competent man and I look forward to working with him in the future, as a member of the council bus scrutiny committee.