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August 2013 Newsletter

£9 Family Saver tickets are available from drivers

Last month we reported the new Family Saver M ticket priced at £9 if purchased on a smart phone. The good news is that Brighton & Hove decided to sell this ticket on-bus for the same price for travel on Brighton & Hove buses. The Family ‘Explorer’ ticket which is available on all local bus operators remains available at £11 on B&H buses, £10 on Compass Bus, The Sussex Bus or The Big Lemon. Prices for Explorer tickets bought on Metrobus or Stagecoach buses are likely to be higher.


Blue buses return to Brighton!

Our photo shows one of two Brighton & Hove buses in a new blue and white livery. There has been speculation that these may be part of a new look, perhaps resurrecting the blue buses operated by Brighton Corporation from the 1970s onwards. However Albion supporters should recognise the colours as those of Brighton & Hove Albion. In fact they have been repainted blue and white as part of a sponsorship deal with the football club. Vinyls will be applied to the outside soon which will explain all, but for the time being the first one is running around naked!

(photo: courtesy of David Grimstone)

Some press reports have suggested that Brighton & Hove Buses would soon carry commercial advertising again. We have been assured that this is not planned, but more buses could be sponsored by local companies and painted appropriately.


Metrobus 30th Anniversary open day

Continuing the theme of blue buses, we would like to promote an event a little out of our area but likely of interest to transport enthusiasts. Crawley based Metrobus celebrates its 30th anniversary with an open day all three of its garages - Crawley, Croydon and Orpington on Saturday 21 September. Full details on


Your views on 20mph scheme extension

Brighton & Hove City Council is now consulting on the Phase 2 of its plan to introduce 20mph zones throughout the city. The first phase covering central areas of Brighton and Hove came into effect in April and has met with a mixed response. The impact on buses was small because buses rarely have the opportunity to exceed 20mph in this area. This is not case further out where buses often make up time they’ve lost in the City Centre due to congestion.

Minor roads in residential areas are unlikely to be a much of a problem as buses already go slowly along these, weaving in and out of parked cars and other obstructions. Some main roads are exempt (remaining 30mph zones) but busy roads with significant bus flows such as Eastern Road and Portland Road are included. The entire length of route 5B between Stanford Avenue and Hollingbury would become 20mph. These roads are of more concern.

It is likely that buses would have to be rescheduled to allow more journey time, especially at quiet times of day. Journeys would inevitably take longer which could be frustrating for passengers. The impact is likely to be greatest in the late evenings and early mornings when road traffic is light. These are also times when buses are lightly used and bus companies will find it hard to justify using extra buses running to slower timetables. The result could be less frequent services or in the worst case, the withdrawal of services that no longer cover their operating costs.

We urge bus users to think about the implications for buses and respond to the consultation which closes on 4 October. Brighton Area Buswatch is formulating its response to the consultation and welcomes views from members and supporters.

Andrew's newsletter continues in the next column

August 2013 News: continued

Improvements to school buses from 2 September

  • School route 91 (Coombe Road – Hollingdean – Five Ways – Cardinal Newman School) will be extended to start from Ovingdean at 07:16 running via Woodingdean and Warren Road to Coombe Road. This restores a direct service from Ovingdean and Woodingdean to Cardinal Newman School which was lost last year when the 52 was cut back.

  • The full range of tickets, including Savers will now be accepted on school services 72, 74 & 96.


More September bus service changes

We have been advised of more changes to services from 16 September:

  • Compass bus is making changes to the timetable for routes 16/66 between Portslade and Hangleton to improve reliability.

  • The Sussex Bus is shortening route 33 from 16 September. In Brighton buses will terminate at The Old Steine and will no longer serve North Street or Churchill Square. Route 40 will no longer serve Bolnore Village.

  • Owing to major roadworks on the A23 and the closure of the Handcross junction, Metrobus service 273 (Brighton – Crawley) will be diverted via Staplefield between Warninglid (Five Cross Roads) and Handcross. Buses will serve the Red Lion stop in Handcross


A tale of two cities

Last month I had the opportunity to meet those running other bus user groups at an event in Birmingham, organised by Bus Users UK. It was good to talk to other groups and find see how local issues vary around the country. Many groups were reporting cuts to services and were envious of the standard of bus service we enjoy.

In Birmingham, the largest UK city outside London, buses are forced to terminate on the edge of the central area so reaching another part of the city centre by bus is virtually impossible. Frequent cross city centre links like those provided by Brighton & Hove routes 1 & 5 simply don’t exist - yet these are Brighton’s busiest bus services! Arriving at the partly re-developed New Street station I was faced with a fair walk to the nearest bus stops. A tram line is being extended but it won’t open until 2015. There is only one all-night bus service (to the Airport) and very few bus lanes. The bus I took to our meeting in Selly Oak was old and looked shabby. New bus shelters had been erected in the city centre but they were tiny and didn’t shelter anyone properly. There were some good points but it was easy to see why bus use was in decline.

I lived in Birmingham briefly in the mid 1980s and I have fond memories of the city. Then it had a superb bus service and usage was increasing. I think Birmingham demonstrates how even the best bus services can spiral into decline. There are various reasons in this case, but it reminds me why we cannot take our excellent local buses for granted. Brighton Area Buswatch will do all it can to prevent a Birmingham type situation here.


New buses for Compass services in Lewes

Compass Bus has been awarded two year contracts to operate services for East Sussex County Council in the Lewes area. These are mainly services that were formally run by Countryliner which the company took over at very short notice last October. Also included is route 126 which is partly operated by Renown Coaches. Compass is buying 7 new single deck buses for these services.


Next Meeting date

We’ve had to change the date of our next members meeting with bus operators and Brighton & Hove City Council. It will be one week later than agreed at our July meeting, on Wednesday 16 October in Hove Town Hall. All future meetings will commence at 5.30pm as we need to vacate the room by 7.30pm. Meetings are open to all members and supporters but please let us know in advance if you wish to attend as space is limited.


This newsletter is edited and produced by Andrew Boag, Chair, Brighton Area Buswatch, with a few minor changes by the Secretary. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Printed copies of the newsletter are available from Hove town hall reception.

The next issue is due in mid September.