May 2013 Newsletter
New bus lanes for Edward Street?
Brighton & Hove City Council is consulting on plans for new bus and
cycle lanes in Edward Street and a short stretch of Eastern Road. The
aim is to provide better facilities for bus passengers and cyclists. The
traffic lights at the junction of Eastern Road, Upper Rock Gardens and
Egremont Place would be upgraded to detect approaching buses and give
them priority. Leaflets are being delivered to local residents. The consultation
closes on Tuesday 25 June. You can also have your say on
Explorer ticket update
Last month we highlighted the different prices and validity of Explorer
day tickets on Stagecoach buses in our area. Our left photo taken in Eastbourne
shows how Explorer tickets are promoted on Stagecoach buses in East Sussex
and cost just £6. The Stagecoach website for East Sussex makes it
clear that these tickets are valid on all Stagecoach buses including those
in West Sussex and Hampshire, plus buses operated by Brighton & Hove,
Arriva Southern Counties and Metrobus. Unfortunately the Stagecoach South
website covering West Sussex and Brighton makes no mention of Explorer
tickets at all. Instead buses carry adverts for Dayrider Gold tickets.
These are only valid on Stagecoach buses yet cost a whopping £8.20!
We hope Stagecoach South will soon see sense and join the Explorer scheme.
We welcome your experience of using Explorer tickets which are now issued
in place of Super Savers on Brighton & Hove buses. With summer approaching
don't forget that family Explorer tickets cost just £10 for two
adults and three children on most buses. For those travelling without
children, the family ticket is cheaper than buying two adult Explorer
Trying out the new M ticket
I recently tried out the new mobile phone 'M ticket' on Brighton &
Hove Buses. I loaded the free App in the usual way and added my address
and bank details as required. This was a bit fiddly on a phone and I hope
I won't have to repeat this process every time. Once into the system,
selecting and buying a one day ticket for the same day was easy. The display
is clear and cleverly designed with moving images to reduce the risk of
fraud. It includes a digital clock which counts down to the expiry time
of the ticket, so you know exactly how long you have to use it.
The first thing you learn is to be sure of loading the correct display
on to the screen before boarding a bus so it is ready to show it to the
driver. Do this too soon and the display can go blank (depending on your
phone settings) and you might find yourself frantically loading it again
with a queue of people behind. I'm not sure how it would work if you are
listening to music or chatting on the phone when getting on a bus!
I travelled from Brighton Old Steine to Lewes and back and all was fine.
Then I boarded a 7 in North Street to go to Hove. I couldn't get a 3G
or wi-fi signal at the bus stop so there was no display. I waited until
everyone else had got on and explained my situation to the driver who
was cool. He politely asked me to show him the ticket later (perhaps he
was aware of this problem?). I couldn't get a signal by the next stop
and I was feeling awkward so I got off the bus. Then the signal came back
immediately! Presumably this problem wouldn't have happened on a No 6
bus with free wi-fi so hopefully this facility will become more widespread
M tickets are an interesting idea and Brighton & Hove should be applauded
for trying something new. I imagine they will appeal to those who like
to use mobiles for everything. Perhaps they will catch on in time but
at the moment few people seem to be using them. At £3.50 for one
day and £15 for a week they are the cheapest tickets available so
the incentive is there. They also have the advantage that you can see
what you've bought on the phone display, whereas a Key card shows you
nothing until you log on to your account. M tickets are only valid on
Brighton & Hove Buses which is a disadvantage, but no more than with
a Key card. On balance I think Key cards are easier to use but I've had
a London Oyster Card for years so I'm used to smartcards.
We would be interested to hear other people's experiences with M tickets.
Do drop us a line or go to our Facebook page.
continued in next column
May 2013 News: continued
One ticket please!
Last month Bus Users UK held its AGM in Oxford where the two main bus
companies, Stagecoach in Oxfordshire and the Oxford Bus Company (owned
by Go-Ahead) have introduced one combined smartcard for the Oxford city
area, valid on all buses. The Managing Directors of both Oxford bus companies
gave presentations and we quizzed them on this point. They explained that
they had done it as a commercial initiative without subsidies or Council
control and it was simple to manage. We need a similar deal with one sensibly
priced ticket valid on all buses.
Our bus service suggestions
The Brighton & Hove Bus Company reviews its timetables twice each
year and implements changes every April and September. The company encourages
comments from bus users and Brighton Area Buswatch has submitted a list
of suggestions for September 2013.
Many of these are based on comments received from new members and supporters,
so thanks to all of you who sent in ideas.
Two issues stand out:
1) There is increasing pressure for a regular bus service between Woodingdean
and Falmer. We have mentioned this before and have raised it with bus
companies. They have sought kick-start funding from both Universities
and the AMEX Stadium but without success.
With student numbers predicted to increase and more people working in
the Falmer area, plus events at the AMEX stadium we believe this link
is essential. We are therefore suggesting the company should start a service
without subsidy for a trial period, either as a new route or by extending
an existing route.
2) The most common question we are asked is why there is no bus service
along the seafront towards Hove. The answer from bus companies has always
been that there isn't enough demand. They say usage would be largely seasonal
and would vary from day to day according to the weather.
They may have a point. The 11X service used to run along Kings Road between
the Thistle Hotel and Hove Town Hall. It was financed by the City Council
to help staff to travel between Council offices. The service was withdrawn
last year because hardly anyone else used it. In contrast buses using
North Street and Western Road are busy at all times.
We suggest the answer might be to extend the 77 Devil's Dyke service
to run both ways along Hove seafront as a trial. This would provide an
open top service during the summer months and if successful it could be
introduced at other times.
Brighton Station Gateway plans
Brighton & Hove City Council's Transport Committee has confirmed
that taxis will not be moving from their present location at the front
of Brighton Station. This could mean less space and more congestion for
buses in the station forecourt. There could be greater problems as buses
depart; as there is a likelyhood they could be blocked in by taxis entering
and exiting from the station. We will be pressing the Council to create
an acceptable arrangement for buses.
This newsletter is edited and produced by Andrew Boag, Chair, Brighton
Area Buswatch. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Printed copies
of this newsletter are available from Hove town hall reception.
The next issue is due in early June.
SOME PREVIOUS NEWS
Our April (and
early May 13) Newsletter includes:-
- Bus fares increase from 21st April 2013
- More buses on many bus routes, and news on supported services.
- New Sunday service to Ditchling Village, but withdrawl of Crawley service
- The Big Lemon meeets its users.
- Explorer tickets- Stagecoach gets in a muddle.
- Welcome to Martin Harris.
Our March (and early
April 13) Newsletter includes:-
- Improvements to Coastliner service 700 service.
- Farewell to Roger French.
- 'M' tickets on Brighton & Hove route 23 & 25.
- New bus and cycle lanes along the Lewes Road.