A bus service which left rural residents feeling “isolated and lonely” after being stopped is set for a new lease of life – thanks to Lowestoft & Yarmouth RFC.
The 108 bus service, which travelled from the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, to Oulton and into Lowestoft town centre, was taken from the roads on October 31.
Now, following a successful trial run in December, Lowestoft and Yarmouth Rugby Club has launched a new service using the club’s minibus.
The service is offered in an attempt to tackle instances of rural isolation within the villages north of Lowestoft, with residents saying they felt “isolated and lonely” within a month of route stopping.
In a joint statement, the rugby club and Waltons MOT and Service Centre – which is partnering the club – said they recognised the importance of their local communities and that people were in need of assistance, as well as praising the team of volunteers for giving up their time to operate the service.
The Rugby Community Bus service has been operating twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, picking up in West Hopton, Lound and Blundeston to get to London Road North in Lowestoft at around 10.30am, before a return trip at 2pm.
The service is provided free of charge to passengers and is staffed with a driver and passenger assistance person, both of who are current rugby club members or volunteers supplied from staff at Waltons, who maintain the minibus as part of the sponsorship package with the club.
James Reeder, Suffolk County Councillor for Oulton, said: “It is very disappointing that we had to withdraw the funding for bus route 108. However, when the rationale was explained at the community meetings, residents could appreciate why this difficult decision was made.
“The Rugby Community Bus is a great example of the wider community finding a solution and I am extremely grateful to the members of the rugby club and Waltons MOT and Service Centre for offering their services.
“Not only are they providing the club’s minibus and driver, but a person to help passengers get on and off the bus.
“This is a great example of the local community working with local authority to find new solutions.”