PROPOSED CUTS IN BUS SERVICES
There has been a massive response to the County County consultation on its proposed cuts, though there’s a high probability that the complex design of the questionnaire will have deterred many from attempting to fill one in. Even so, those who have made their objections clear number thousands rather than hundreds – with a petition of 7,000 signatures from Hastings and St Leonards among the responses. With an election round the corner, sitting MP for Hastings Amber Rudd and the Labour prospective candidate have both been drumming up support for the campaign to roll back the cuts as they affect Hastings, as well as their own electoral chances. And both favour the BHLR with its capacity to persuade people to drive rather than take a sustainable bus, thus undermining public transport in general. Shame about that. To date, some Hastings services have been reprieved through Stagecoach ‘adopting’ them as ‘commercial services’ – but there’s the prospect of serious hardship ahead for those dependent upon services still under threat. Sundays, Bank Holidays and evenings would still see poor levels of service – even if nothing changed at all.
Meanwhile, in Lewes, opposition has also been vocal with the ‘Love Your Bus’ campaign packing public meetings and providing information about the nature of cuts in Lewes – Newhaven – Seaford district.
See LINK to ‘Lewes Travelog’ latest Newsletter and note the 8th November event in Lewes:
Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex has also played a part with a submission to the County Council and some distribution of questionnaires on two threatened rural routes: the 318 (Heathfield – Burwash – Etchingham – Hurst Green) and the 349 (Hastings – Sedlescombe – Bodiam – Hawkhurst). See LINK to submission here:
BUS PICTURE GALLERY:
The crowd on the 12.07 318 from Heathfield to Hurst Green on Friday 3rd October look pleased to be on board their bus. What will they do when this service is cut back?
And below, the family from Edinburgh on a short visit to Hastings would not have been able to make this Sunday journey on the 349 to Bodiam for a castle tour and steam train ride on the KESR preserved railway. (Photos Below)
318 – Linking Heathfield and High Weald villages – a future weakened link?
Sunday Trip By 349 to Bodiam Castle and the KESR Heritage Railway. Impossible next year? The Edinburgh family on holiday.
It is clear that if carried out, the cuts would hurt significant numbers of people who rely on the bus, and remove the opportunity to promote the bus as a useful and attractive alternative to the car: that’s if the County Council takes the trouble to advertise the bus services we all pay for: at present, there is little if any promotion.
*****Excellent article on East Sussex situation by Andrea Needham in the Guardian:
BUSES TO HOSPITALS – WHEN?
POST BHLR ALTERNATIVES – SOMETIME, MAYBE.
In the last post (July 2014) we spoke of an approach to East Sussex County Council (the transport authority) to find out if there were any plans to meet transport needs of patients (and their friends and relations) in the reorganized world of clinical services. Although clearly an obvious issue to address before the changes took place, these needs have been overlooked for some time now and individuals are having to use taxis from Eastbourne to get to Hastings and vice versa. A taxi fare can be anything between £32 – £38 according to the time of day or night. We think this situation is unacceptable. The reply from ESCC:
‘The changes to clinical services between Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals, with the transport access issues which may result, does raise concerns. This really is a matter for the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to address’.
We would point out that ESCC also now has a responsibility for public health. In any event there is an urgent need for a dialogue and there appears to have been none.
The matter of choices of alternatives to the car available from day one of BHLR opening, and the need for an exhibition to explain these to the public, was also raised. Well, with bus cuts threatened, Glyne Gap station plans removed by Rother District and ESCC from policy, and a general vagueness about what alternatives will exist in May 2015 (ESCC’s opening date for BHLR), we received confirmation that there is no exhibition planned because alternative transport measures are ‘still in development’. Sustainability is certainly not at the core of ESCC transport policy. Cars first. Alternatives? Sometime, maybe – but why are they incessantly, relentlessly, ignored, delayed or suppressed? They will NOT be there as the Link Road opens.
GLYNE GAP STATION
Our June Post includes background information about the report commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex into the feasibility of a new station at Glyne Gap. LINK: Glyne Gap station review JRC 644 Final
The report also reviewed the earlier report upon which Rother District Council, with tacit support from ESCC, based its decision to remove the station from its development plans.
In late July, we received notification from the Planning Inspectorate that in their view, Rother District Council was justified in removing a new Glyne Gap station from the Core Strategic Plan because put simply, there was no chance of funds being made available within the plan period.
We were extremely disappointed in this because the decision demonstrated a failure on the part of two local authorities to build a case for the station, and also because the case for its removal presented by Rother District Council – with backing from the transport authority, ESCC – was seriously flawed. We shall take the opportunity to re-present our case at some time in the near future.
Incredibly, the local authority’s case completely ignored the £multi-million new signalling system, installed and about to go ‘live’. Rother’s and ESCC’s case had predicted just one train per hour because the old signalling system could not permit more trains than this to call at a new station. The new system could have accommodated two trains per hour, helping local people to access their daily needs without the need for a vehicle. It seems as if the £30,000 study commissioned by Rother DC and ESCC was not examined and interrogated by those responsible for its commissioning.
The shorter rail trips originating and ending at smaller stations on the Coastway are just as important as the longer distance commuter trips much talked about recently by Amber Rudd, MP. We are convinced, and our commissioned study shows, that Glyne Gap station would be a success – not least in the function of removing short car commute trips (the cause of congestion and poor air quality) from the roads at a cost of under £10m. The £113+ Link Road will simply help to fill the roads up by promoting just such carbon emitting car trips while undermining public transport, walking and cycling and getting in the way of tradesmen and women who need a vehicle to carry out their work.
In other local authority areas, the financial case would have been made and the trains would already be calling at the new station. ‘Excellence’ in terms of high quality alternatives to the car are a long time coming: threatened bus cuts suggest that a decline in public transport for Bexhill and Hastings is acceptable to politicians at all levels. Pressure mounts for those who can afford it to switch to the car. Those who can’t don’t seem to matter.
*Unlike Bexhill College students and local shoppers at Glyne Gap, students at Sussex Coast College campus at Ore College and local residents are flocking to use the trains. There’s a station! In one year, following the full opening of Ore Campus, trip numbers to/from Ore station rose by 97,442. There are 2/3 trains per hour. The opening of M&S store at Glyne Gap/Ravenside would have been the moment to open the new station.