EAST SUSSEX BUS SERVICES TO BE DECIMATED, Go in your car, or don't go at all!   30% price hike and service frequency slashed.   People can shop on line instead of using local shops, says council   O…


Go in your car, or don't go at all!


30% price hike and service frequency slashed.


People can shop on line instead of using local shops, says council


On July 7th East Sussex Council will start its formal consultation on  proposal which would start the decimation of  the subsidised bus services in Lewes and East Sussex.  Commercial services run by Brighton Buses and Stagecoach will not be affected. But almost every other bus service will be cut.


Fares Hike


Lewes based sustainable travel expert Chris Smith says:


“Fares on remaining services will face a huge hike, making them unaffordable for many.  Increases will approach 30% across the board!  This will lead to even less use of what buses remain.


For example, the current fare from Lewes to Newhaven and return (about 8 miles) is currently £4.80.  A 30% increase takes that to £6.24.   This is almost double the current train fare and makes the car, if you have one, a cheaper option.


You can see that the council are trying to reduce bus passengers so that they can make even further cuts”.


Subsidy cut


In 2012/3 the councils supported bus services to the tune of just over £2.9 million a year.  It wants to reduce this support to under £700 thousand by April 2015.  (The council has recently spent about £56 million of its (our) money on the Bexhill Hastings link road on top of the money paid by the government)


Service cuts


The council will keep many bus services which are used for people to get to and from work and also most journeys that enable students to get to school. (But there may be fewer services than there are now even in the peaks)


All evening and Sunday services subsidised by the council will be withdrawn.


The council is not clear what will happen on Saturdays on routes which will still have a daily service Monday to Friday.  You should not assume that there will still be Saturday services.


Off peak services in the day will be drastically cut.  Here how bus services in typical areas of the county  would fare outside of normal school and work rush hours


Lewes area


Town services reduced by half to one an hour

Services to Newhaven, Chailey and  Newick will be reduced from one an hour to every two hours

Services to Plumpton, Ditchling, Barcombe Haisham and Alfriston would run on two days a week

Evening services to Ringmer abolished.



Taxibus service withdrawn



Local bus service reduced from hourly to every two hours

Lewes service reduced from hourly to every 2 hours



Service to East Grinstead only 2 days a week

Dial a ride only to run 2 days a week

248 and 249 Local services run only 2 days a week



Buses to Lewes to run only every two days a week (even in rush hours)



95 from Bexhill to the Conquest reduced from one an hour to every two hours

Town service to run only every two hours



Hastings area

Town services 7, 24, 27, 29 and the 95 from Bexhill to the Conquest reduced from one an hour to every two hours

Services to Tenterden, Northiam and Pett reduced from hourly to one every 2 hours

Dial a ride to run only 2 days a week



Service to Tenterden reduced from hourly to every two hours

Dial a ride to run only 2 days a week

Local services to run only 2 days a week



No daily services any more.  All services run maximum of 2 days a week



A number of public services serving Ringmer, Uplands and Heathfield colleges  will become school only services, which will mean an increase in travel costs of £5.50 per week per student.


There are similar cuts right across the county.




As the county admits, shoppers and those with medical appointments will be worst affected.  That’s bad news for shopkeepers. The council hopes more people will shop on line instead of using local shops.


But it is bad news for shift or part time workers too, and the council admits that some people may lose their jobs  (on top of the bus drivers who will also lose theirs)


Also affected will be pensioners, who face further isolation, and young people who want to visit their friends.  The county admits that people with learning disabilities may have trouble getting to day and training centres.


Because the council is cutting only socially necessary services the poorest and most vulnerable will be disproportionately affected.


The council believes that some services, such as libraries, will be affected.  As you probably know, rural libraries are being cut, so more people need to travel.


Many rural areas will become no go areas where it is impossible to live without a car, or more than one car.  And, of course, the number of cars trying to drive and park in Lewes will rise.


Businesses dependent on tourism will suffer.


The policies take no account of environmental concerns and take no account of the extra costs of more traffic, pollution or social isolation.


Around 1 in 5 households in the county do not have access to a car.  Even in those households that have a car, household members may be stranded at home if one member must take the car, for example to get to work.


The council has the power to use revenues from car parking schemes to subsidise bus services, but has not promised to do so.


What COULD the council do?


Chris says that there are other courses that the council could follow:


  • It could commit itself to not wasting money on road schemes
  • It could actually publicise the bus services to ensure more people use them instead of keeping them secret.
  • It could generate more money from parking schemes and use this to pay for buses.
  • It could adopt the system used in London and being tried out in Newcastle, where companies have to tender to run the profitable and the unprofitable services as a package.  At the moment the commercial companies trouser the profit on the profitable routes and the taxpayer subsidises the others. Under the alternative system the profitable routes help subsidise the loss making ones.


When would the cuts happen?


These cuts would happen in April 2015- just 8 months away


What can you do?


  • Tell everyone who you know who might be affected anywhere in East Sussex. – You could forward this newsletter to them
  •  Raise the issue at any organisation or community group you are part of.
  • Look at the detailed information here  to see exactly how you may be affected.
  • Tell your county council member that you want them to oppose the cuts at every opportunity.
  • Contact local papers and radio stations to tell them how you will be affected.


July 1 is not the end of the decision making. This is what the county council says it will do:


“In July, August and September 2014 we will use a wide range of methods to ask members of the community for their views about the draft Strategy and our proposals for the Supported Bus Network.


During October and November 2014 the Project Board and a cross Party Councillors Advisory Group will review what people have told us. Using these views and other relevant information, we will decide if any changes need to be made to the draft Strategy and/or the Supported Bus Network proposals.


In December 2014 ESCC’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the final version of the Strategy and recommendations for the final supported bus network.


 Chris says “There is still time to make a difference!  But we need to act now.”



Views: 203

Comment by John Greves on July 7, 2014 at 12:50

Councils really strapped for cash and looking for soft targets, staff pension schemes grossly underfunded. Your guys also trying to sell off inherited assets like Public Open Space !

Private Hire Cars can take up to 6 passengers, useful for group shopping and theatre trips.

Car license includes "not for profit" mini buses, second hand not that expensive, often have wheelchair lifts, maybe time for Village Communities to fund their own transport schemes.

Could also suggest Council Staff use pool cars and pay for their own parking. Station Parking here is £6 a day on top of fare rises, Hospitals charging for Blue Badge Holders another local issue, bikes chained to whatever railings they can find increasing problem.

Years of experience, talking does not get very far, direct action and demonstrations gets the message home, especially close to election time.

Do you have "Streetlife" down there Chris ?

Comment by Allison Thorpe on July 7, 2014 at 15:03

Picking up on Chris's posting above I would urge people to respond to this consultation by East Sussex and to encourage others to do the same.

We appreciate the importance of rural bus services for National Park residents and visitors alike. That's why, where we can, we have worked with our local authority partners and used LSTF funding and staff time to encourage people to make the most of the bus services as a great way to get around the South Downs. With support for special Sunday services taking in some of the most popular destinations in the National Park, we hope to see enough people using these services to make them more financially viable in the future.

Comment by John Greves on July 7, 2014 at 21:29

Daughter has just moved to Cuckfield, delightful satellite of Haywards Heath, 50mins from here by car door to door, hate to think what Public Transport would be like.

Stark reminder that Sussex roads are still pretty awful, fun for motorbikes but serious hazard for cars and cycling. Bendy Buses not very clever either.

"Mosaic" economic analysis shows Rural Villages for wealthy folk who are still fit and able, sad but true.

Rural to Town migration has been going on for many years, many farmers, workers and landowners don't have to live on the job these days, taxi of mum & dad is no joke.

What makes a Sustainable Rural Community needs some careful thought.

Comment by Victor S Ient on July 16, 2014 at 15:52

Everyone should send comments to the ESCC:


Also tell your County Councillor what you think at: 


Comment by John Greves on July 16, 2014 at 16:21

SDNPA is supposed to be co-ordinating all this sort of thing, otherwise what is it there for ?

Comment by Allison Thorpe on July 16, 2014 at 16:25

The SDNPA will respond to the consultation but I would urge individuals to make their own comments via ESCC channels.

Comment by Victor S Ient on July 16, 2014 at 17:34

as tjhis affects areas both inside & outside the NP it is important to for members of the public to review the changes in their are and respond to the ESCC accordingly. Follow this link: https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/

Comment by John Greves on July 17, 2014 at 9:41

Well, according to ESCC 10% of passengers are costing £2m,

Difficult for residents to make a balanced judgement on options available to make up the shortfall in Government funding.

Rural Communities have suffered continuing loss of essential services (and employment) for the past 50 years, Cumbria and Dorset lost village schools and bus services many years ago, attractive villages fallen to the second home market and empty most of the time.

Alfriston worth a closer look, cottages going for half a million pounds, potential large local employer offering mostly seasonal jobs, most likely taken up by migrant labour force. Typical displacement of rural families to urban areas for schools, employment and shopping. Gangmasters and Contractors providing transport and labour camps. Older and disabled folk stranded.

Here on the Surrey/Outer London fringe, many bus services now run by employers, supermarkets, retirement homes and local communities.

Maybe time for SDNPA to establish its own "Safari" bus service with direct access to to the South Downs Way and other off-road Countryside Attractions, currently inaccessible to a large section of the Sussex Community.

Farm and Forestry transport have used these tracks for many years.

Sadly, King Canute got it wrong.

Comment by Victor S Ient on July 17, 2014 at 14:30

I don't think it is difficult for residents to make a judgement. All that residents are being asked to do is give their opinions on the ESCC cuts. All that I am trying to do is let people know about the cuts. I would have thought it's very simple – if your village is going to have its evening and weekend bus service cut or abolished altogether, you can either agree with the cuts  or you can register your objections. Simple! 

Maybe a different form of bus service is required , but at this stage it is important for people to understand what the cuts are in their area.

As for the National Park - they should be objecting to the ESCC as well, since they (the SDNPA) are trying to promote tourism in the National Park via bus services!

Comment by John Greves on July 18, 2014 at 12:10

Chris ..... do you have "Streetlife" in your neck of the woods ? Useful for raising local problems, Weybridge Edition has 16 fresh entries this morning.

Local Hospital Board was about to charge for Blue Badge parking, 2 weeks ago Streetlife contributor raised a Change.com petition and collected over 600 signatures which included some famous names.

Board arranged a last-minute meeting yesterday afternoon, hoping most folks at work, had not counted on "Dad's Army" which turned up in force, a generation not inclined to put up with feeble excuses.

Board sent away to re-consider its decision, together with the charging machines which delivered change in £1 coins for a £20 note and barrier equipment which has already caused a serious accident.

Similar problem with local Waitrose Car Park which required all users to get a ticket, Streetlife got that fixed within days, 2 hours free parking and no ticket required.

Perhaps we are lucky in having strong Resident Communities, Heaven help any Party Hack who thinks Elmbridge voters are dumb.

Perhaps ESCC could save money from elsewhere to spend on buses, but not good to have these monsters running around country roads empty.

Station Cab Rank here now has 8 seat People Carriers, sign of Commuters getting together for common good, bikes chained to almost anything they can find, saves £6 a day parking charges !

If you do get a Public Meeting Chris, worth printing off and circulating questions beforehand, make sure PA and Hearing Loop are working, take photos of folks and attendance sheet. Write your own report for local press and TV.

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