Bus firm safeguards evening routes

AN evening bus service looks secure after the operator pledged to run the route commercially.

Evening buses connecting villages between Brighton and Tunbridge Wells are currently under the spotlight as part of a review of routes subsidised by East Sussex County Council.

Now, the Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Company has said it is willing to run the route as a commercial operation to preserve the service and help the council find vital savings.

The move follows months of talks between the council and the operator.

It would see people in Lewes, Ringmer, Uckfield, Crowborough and surrounding rural areas continue to benefit from the evening service.

Mike Best, Brighton & Hove's commercial director, said: "This positive approach means that with a small number of timetable adjustments to the spacing of evening services on the 28 and 29, we can preserve a good service not only on Mondays to Saturdays but also on Sundays.

"We are therefore in a position to confirm that from March 2015, we will continue to run evening services currently funded by the county council on a commercial basis."

Proposed changes to the supported bus network were consulted upon earlier this year.

East Sussex County Council says they could help it save £1.79m, while leaving 91% of current passengers on the East Sussex bus network unaffected.

The authority is currently reviewing responses to the consultation, which closed in September.

Findings and other information will be taken into account when the council's cabinet is asked to consider recommendations for the reformulated supported bus network on Tuesday, 16 December.

The review had included 28 and 29 services towards Tunbridge Wells after 7.45pm from Uckfield and after 8.55pm from Lewes, and Lewes-bound services after 8.40pm from Uckfield and after 9pm from Tunbridge Wells.

Rupert Clubb, county council director of communities, economy and transport, said: "We very much welcome the intervention of Brighton & Hove Buses and their commitment to continue this service as a commercial operation.

The council had difficult choices to make due to reductions in the funding it received from the government, said Mr Clubb.

But he added: "No decision has been made yet and no decision will be made without reviewing all the evidence and the responses from the consultation."

If cabinet approves the recommendations, the changes to services would be made from March 2015.


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