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Andrew Boag's

December '13 Newsletter

Photo to follow:


The power of bus lanes – 2 moving buses and 25 cars stuck in a queue

This view was taken in Saltdean during the morning rush hour by Brighton & Hove Buses, shortly after the A259 bus lanes were completed in 2008. Five years on the photo is more relevant than ever as it clearly shows why buses and bus lanes are so important. One double deck bus can carry 90 passengers (and they regularly do along this road), whereas a car will typically carry one or two people.

Usage of route 12 has increased every year since the bus lanes were introduced and big improvements are planned for the Brighton to Eastbourne service during 2014.


Brighton & Hove City Council votes on 20mph speed limits

Brighton & Hove City Council approved the second phase of 20mph zones at a special meeting on 11 December. However the ruling Green Party was outvoted on a number of amendments put forward by opposition parties.

All political parties supported the general principle of 20mph zones in residential areas where a majority of residents were also in favour. Following public consultation, the Green party proposed to retain 30mph along most main roads which are bus routes, with a few exceptions. Brighton Area Buswatch supported this general approach, as reported in our October newsletter. We expressed concerns about the effect widespread 20mph limits could have on the viability of late evening, night services and early morning buses which rely on faster speeds to maintain timetables.

During the meeting opposition Councillors expressed concerns about certain roads and the speed of 20mph implementation across the city. Following an occasionally heated debate, opposition Councillors secured amendments to retain 30mph in Portland Road and Braybon Avenue. Both are major bus routes that had been identified as being within 20 mph zones.

One Councillor claimed that Preston Drove and Stanford Avenue were main bus routes so should remain 30mph. Hardly! The frequent 5B zigzags across a short stretch of Preston Drove but only one school bus a day runs the entire length and there is just an hourly service along Stanford Avenue. Nevertheless these roads will now remain 30mph.

[A rare note from the secretary: The lower section of Stanford Avenue is used by services 5/5A southbound and 5B northbound, so the 30 MPH speed limit will be useful for these major services. ]

Andrew's Newsletter continues

The next stage is for the Council to issue traffic orders for the roads affected. This will provide a further opportunity for public consultation. The whole scheme will return to the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee for a final decision in March 2014.

If current plans are implemented route 7 (Marina – Eastern Road - Brighton Station – Hove) which runs 24 hours, will operate 94% of its route along 20mph roads, with only the Marina approach road remaining 30mph. Route 50 between Brighton Station and Hollingdean will be entirely within 20mph zones.

Andrew's newsletter continues in the next column

December 2013 News: continued


Free parking on Small Business Day - More extra bus users than cars!

The free car parking promotion at five council run car parks began on Saturday 7 December. This coincided with Small Business Day, a national event which aims to promote small businesses. Brighton & Hove Buses joined in by offering free travel to accompanied under 16s and to young people with Bus ID cards. The Big Lemon bus company went for a more quirky approach and offered free travel to anyone showing a lemon to the bus driver!

According to The Argus, Small Business Day was very successful for local businesses. Overall traffic levels appeared to be similar to a normal Saturday in December. Our observations showed empty spaces in most of the ‘free’ car parks, with only Trafalgar Street being full for most of the day. These findings have since been confirmed by data supplied by the City Council.

Brighton & Hove Buses were very busy and carried 5% more passengers than on the same Saturday last year, including an estimated 2,000 under 16s travelling free. So perhaps buses were the real success story that day. Small businesses please take note!


East Sussex County Council looks to cut transport budget

Concessionary Pass holders living in East Sussex could find they cannot use their passes before 09:30 instead of 09:00 as the County Council considers ways of saving £2.2million from its transport budget over the next three years.


Improving facilities for older bus users

Last month I went along to a workshop with the Brighton & Hove Age Friendly Steering Group. This considered issues related to transport and getting out and about in Brighton & Hove for older people. I was able to mention several improvements to bus facilities including plans for new bus shelters and more real time signs at bus stops. Seating inside shelters was considered very important and people were reassured to know this would continue to be provided. A campaign to allow more crossing times at pedestrian crossings was supported and there were calls for a regular bus service along the seafront. The free bus pass was a boon because it enabled people to get out more, visiting friends and going shopping frequently to avoid having to carry heavy bags.

One of the outcomes of the workshop was that Brighton Area Buswatch needs to improve links with older people’s groups and this will be one of our aims in 2014. We have also been in touch with disability groups. We welcome newcomers to this newsletter who signed up at the meeting.


Special offer on smartphone tickets

Brighton & Hove Buses is offering a seven day £9.99 M ticket for use on routes 23, 24, 25, 28 & 29 between Falmer (Coldean Lane on the 24) and Churchill Square between 14 December and 5 January. This is a saving of £2.51 on normal ticket price. The promotion is designed to encourage more people to try buses along Lewes Road during the Christmas and New Year period.


Our bus companies win awards

Several of our local bus companies have won awards recently. Last month Crawley based Metrobus which operates in our area won a prestigious award for best depot at the annual Bus Industry Awards in London. Compass Bus was nominated for best small bus operator at the same ceremony and was highly commended, while Brighton & Hove Buses was commended for its Police Liaison Officer initiative which has reduced crime and anti-social behaviour on local buses.

The Big Lemon bus company has also won an award recently, at the Sussex Business Awards for best Social Enterprise of the year.

These awards have been won against tough competition and demonstrate how our local bus companies excel nationally. Our buses may not be perfect but they are way above average and we congratulate all those involved.


Next Meeting date

Our next meeting with bus operators and Brighton & Hove City Council is on Wednesday 15 January 2014 at 5.30pm in Hove Town Hall. 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. 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 January 2014.

Seasonal Greetings to all our readers and supporters