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.
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”.
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)
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All evening and Sunday services subsidised by the council will be withdrawn.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
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Taxibus service withdrawn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
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:
When would the cuts happen?
These cuts would happen in April 2015- just 8 months away
What can you do?
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.”