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Andrew Boag's

November '13 Newsletter

City Councillors to vote on free parking motions.

A special meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources is being held on Tuesday 12 November. It has been called to vote on a motion by Conservative and Labour Councillors to allow free car parking at five Council run car parks on Saturday 7 December and on Sundays 8, 15 & 22 December.

The ruling Green party reacted with its own proposals to reduce charges at two car parks and make just one (Norton Road in Hove) free. So whatever the outcome there will almost certainly be some new free parking on these dates. The most likely effect will be more cars on the roads, leading to more traffic congestion which will result in delays to bus services.

Buses are the lifeblood of this city. They are a huge success story, carrying four times more people than in most similar sized UK cities. Our bus services are frequent and mostly operated by modern, low emission vehicles. These days there is no social stigma attached to travelling by bus; all kinds of people use buses because they are the easiest way to get around. This achievement has been sustained through a partnership between bus companies and Councils. It is a policy enthusiastically supported by all political parties which has lasted for twenty years.

Cycling has also increased substantially, mostly due to new cycle priority measures. A large number of people travel to Brighton & Hove by rail too. Brighton is the busiest station on the south coast. Trains are easily the quickest way to reach our city from London and many other places.

The overall result is that Brighton & Hove is officially the least car dependent city outside London. Many city authorities and politicians elsewhere are envious of this status and visit Brighton & Hove to see how it has been achieved.

Bus lanes are critical to this success because they are very effective. On the A259 coast road east of Brighton, buses are carrying over 30% more passengers than before. Buses in Lewes Road are already carrying 7% more passengers than this time last year and bus journey times are improving. One double deck bus can carry 80 passengers in the space of about three cars, while bendy buses can carry over a hundred. So they are very efficient users of road space.

The local economy in Brighton & Hove has performed better than most areas during the recession. Empty shop units are a relatively rare sight and the prospects for new businesses are good.

Of course more needs to be done and Park & Ride schemes would certainly help. Unfortunately there is little chance of Park & Ride happening in the foreseeable future.

Brighton Area Buswatch is not anti-car; we recognise some people have little or no choice, especially in outlying areas. But for many in this city there are good alternatives. We therefore question the wisdom of encouraging more cars onto already congested roads with free parking offers. The past twenty years have shown that investing in good public transport is the most effective way to keep our city moving and build a thriving local economy. is One

Last month this independent bus company celebrated its first birthday. The company was formed by Heritage Coaches to take over operations of Countryliner which went out of business at short notice in October 2012. Since then, the red buses of have become a familiar sight and the company has introduced a number of new services.

Recently the company has begun to modernise its already fleet and it is aiming to run most services commercially without the need for local authority support. This is not easy to achieve in rural areas and we wish them well for the forthcoming year.


Andrew's newsletter continues in the next column

November 2013 News: continued

New government funding to reduce bus emissions

Brighton & Hove will benefit from more buses with cleaner engines after winning government funding. A successful joint bid between the city council Brighton & Hove Buses, will see £700k spent on retrofitting existing vehicles to reduce the amount of air pollution they produce.

Councillor Ian Davey, Lead Member on Transport said: "Brighton & Hove residents already make more bus journeys than anywhere in the UK outside of London. But our city grows and more and more people make the switch to sustainable transport, we need all vehicles on the city’s streets to be as clean as possible. “I’m delighted that once again our city’s reputation has brought external funding to improve our transport system. This will make a huge contribution to cleaning up our air and making our streets a healthier, safer place to be.”

Martin Harris, Managing Director of Brighton & Hove Buses said: "The funding from this joint bid will add to our own substantial investments in greener technologies and upgrade up to 50 buses, a substantial proportion of our fleet, and I hope it encourages other operators of vehicles in the city centre to further their support for efforts to deliver a greener city."


B&H service improvements in 2014.

We are delighted to learn that Brighton & Hove Buses is planning to boost its busy Coaster service 12 between Brighton & Eastbourne with more buses and a new timetable next summer. Brighton Area Buswatch put forward a number of ideas and we understand many of these will be adopted. Hopefully it will become a more reliable service with extra 12X limited stop journeys.

This month we will be submitting suggestions for improvements to other Brighton & Hove bus services in 2014. These include earlier morning buses on Sundays on routes 5/5B, improved links to the Universities at Falmer and the restoration of a 10 minute daytime frequency between the City Centre and Queens Park. We hope to be able to give more details in our January 2014 newsletter.


Real Time Information signs to be upgraded and expanded.

Brighton & Hove City Council has signed an agreement to upgrade the system that tells passengers when the next bus will arrive. It will also be expanded into East Sussex.

The new system will use the latest GPRS technology to improve accuracy and signal reception. This should lead to more reliable information. The annoying problem of buses occasionally disappearing from roadside displays before they are due should be much less likely to occur.

All local bus companies will be able to display their services on the real time system for the first time. Improvements to the existing system are being funded by money awarded from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund which enables local authorities to deliver sustainable travel solutions to boost economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.

There will be additional real time signs at bus stops and the information will continue to be available on the internet, smart phones and by text messaging. The first services to benefit from the upgrade will the 28 & 29 from Brighton to Lewes, Ringmer, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells where there are currently no electronic signs north of Falmer. The full network upgrade should be completed by the end of 2014.


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. Our meeting on 16 October was full!


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 early December.