Latest information 09/07/2014
RE ESCC ‘Consultation Exerceise’ on the decimation of our bus services.
Email received from Madeline Harmer business transport officer for ESCC
“Paper copies of the survey are available in all libraries and will shortly be available on supported buses throughout East Sussex. Residents can request a paper copy of the survey by calling us on 0345 60 80 194, and in this month’s “Your County” there will be information regarding the consultation which will include this telephone number.
In addition all key stakeholders, including parish and district councils, charities, children centres, religious communities, and social groups have received a link to the online version of the survey, and a note informing them that they can request paper versions of the survey by calling us on 0345 60 80 194.”
Make sure your voice is heard today!!!!
30% price hike and service frequency slashed.
People can shop on line instead of using local shops, says council
On July 1st East Sussex Council’s cabinet is likely to rubber stamp a proposal which would start the decimation of the subsidised bus services in Lewes and East Sussex. The 28 and 29 run by Brighton buses will not be affected. But almost every other bus service running into Lewes will be cut.
Local 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 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All evening and Sunday services subsidised by the council will be withdrawn.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. Where there are Saturday services the frequency will be the same as the off peak services shown below. There will be no Saturday services to Barcombe, Plumpton or Haywards Heath. There is already no Saturday service to Hailsham.
Off peak services in the day will be drastically cut. Here’s how Lewes town’s bus services would fare outside of normal school and work rush hours:
121 Lewes-Newick service is reduced to every two hours
123 Lewes-Kingston- Newhaven is reduced to every two hours
125 Lewes- Barcombe- Alfriston will operate on Mondays and Thursdays only (daily peak service)
127 Landport Service is reduced to hourly
128 Nevill Service is reduced to hourly (this frequency probably includes the 129 service)
129 Nevill and Winterbourne service is reduced to every two hours
143 Lewes- Ringmer and Hailsha will operate onTuesday and Friday only (no service at all on other days)
166 Plumpton and Haywards Hth will operate on Mondays and Thursdays only (daily peak service)
824 Ditchling and Burgess Hill will operate on Tuesday and Friday only (daily peak service)
A number of public services serving Ringmer college from the east 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.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
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.
Areas like Chailey, Newick, Laughton and Kingston 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.
The policies take no account of environmental concerns and take no account of the extra costs of more traffic, pollution or social isolation.
20% of households in Lewes district 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.”