Brighton Area Buswatch
Representing Bus Users
September 2013 Newsletter
September 2013 News: continued
The Explorer ticket saga continues - Stagecoach South drops out
Stagecoach South stopped issuing and accepting Explorer tickets from Sunday 1 September. This affects all Stagecoach services in West Sussex, including Worthing route 7 (sub-contracted to Compass Bus) plus routes 17 and 700 within Brighton & Hove.
This decision was not publicised by Stagecoach. We found out from the Metrobus Facebook page. Stagecoach South told us in July it was losing money on these tickets because other operators sold them at lower prices, but gave no indication they were about to stop selling them. It was initially left to drivers and other bus companies to explain the position to confused and angry bus passengers, although notices have now appeared inside Stagecoach buses.
We have heard from some users whose return fares have increased from £8.75 to over £14 because they now have to by two tickets. This will not encourage bus travel and has created real hardship for people on low incomes.
Stagecoach South argues that the area covered by its services is vast, stretching from Brighton in the East to Portsmouth and Salisbury in the west and north to Reading. So its price was inevitably higher than on smaller networks, but it was obliged to accept tickets issued by other companies.
At present Explorer tickets remain available on most other buses in our area, including Stagecoach buses in East Sussex, but prices vary and availability may change at short notice. Please check with your local bus company before travelling. Bus companies may introduce new day tickets valid on one operator only at a lower price. Thesussexbus.com has already done this with a new £6.50 'Red Rider' day ticket while increasing the price of Explorer tickets.
Fortunately there are some encouraging signs. Brighton Area Buswatch understands that West Sussex County Council has been negotiating an agreement with bus companies to introduce a common price for Explorer tickets sold in the county. Hopefully Stagecoach South will sign this agreement and re-introduce Explorer tickets soon, at least in West Sussex.
Stagecoach has also indicated a willingness to join other multi-operator ticketing schemes where a fixed price is agreed. We are optimistic they will participate in an all operator smartcard for the Brighton & Hove area, which we are campaigning for.
Bus Users UK has called for Explorer tickets to be valid nationally.
In theory it is a simple concept with each participating bus company keeping
the revenue from tickets sold on its buses; there are no complicated re-imbursement
procedures. With eligibility for concessionary passes being reduced to
match the increasing pension age, there is a huge new market for competitively
priced leisure tickets. Enterprising bus companies should exploit this.
Six buses an hour on the 6
Brighton & Hove route 6 from Brighton Station to Hove, Portslade and Downs Park has been improved to run every 10 minutes during the daytime providing a frequent turn up and go service from Brighton Station to Churchill Square and Western Road. With the evening service now every 15 minutes there will usually be a modern wi-fi equipped No 6 waiting at Brighton station. These frequency improvements are the result of suggestions from Brighton Area Buswatch.
Queens Park Crush?
The 81 & 81B have been reduced to run every 12 minutes through Queens Park during the daytime, with a further reduction to every 15 minutes at some peak times. From our observations buses get very crowded between St James Street and Queens Park in the afternoons. Some double deckers have been promised and we would be interested to hear your experiences of the new timetable. We will present your feedback to the bus company at our next meeting.
Next Meeting date
Our next meeting with bus operators and Brighton & Hove City Council is on Wednesday 16 October in Hove Town Hall. Note that this is one week later than the date agreed at the previous meeting. 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 minor changes by secretary Peter Elvidge. 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 October.