Saturday, December 16 2017

Published on November 9 2017. News
Bus services in disarray
A service about to end?

Bus services in disarray

Renown Travel, which runs a number of single-deck buses on local routes, have advised East Sussex County Council (ESCC) of its intention to terminate the contract for the following services from December 24 2017:

312: Rye-Playden-Iden-Wittersham-Small Hythe-Tenterden

313: Rye Harbour-Rye-Playden-Peasmarsh-Beckley-Northiam

342: Hastings Station-Elphinstone Road-Pilot Road-Conquest Hospital-Harrow Lane-Sedlescombe Road North-Westfield-Brede-Broad Oak-Udimore-Rye

Renown Travel’s reasons for taking the decision to withdraw from the contract are that its costs in providing the service are higher than anticipated, along with lower than expected income from service users.

To avoid a gap in service ESCC is seeking prices from operators to provide a broadly similar replacement service, though individual journeys are expected to change. This may include the last journeys on services 312 and 313 running earlier than present, though there would still be a peak time departure on each service from Rye between 5pm and 6pm.

The parishes of Beckley, Northiam and Peasmarsh have been contributing funding which pays for an additional Monday to Friday journey, at 9:03am from Northiam to Rye, on which concessionary pass holders have been able to travel for free. ESCC is looking to retain a similarly timed journey as part of the new timetable arrangements, though the continuation of free travel before 9:30am will require this facility to still be funded by the parish councils.

On service 342, due to the very low level of use, the current Monday to Friday journey at 7:29am from Hastings Station to Rye is expected to start instead from Pilot Road/Westminster Crescent, Hastings, and to run on schooldays only. The current schooldays only 3:51pm from Rye to Hastings station is expected to run only as far as Pilot Road/ Westminster Crescent. The current 342 Monday to Friday 4:31pm journey from Rye to Westfield is also expected to run on schooldays only. An evening peak journey between 5pm and 6pm from Rye serving Udimore and Broad Oak will continue to be provided, though it is likely to mean using a service 313 journey running via Beckley and Northiam, similar to the current arrangement.

Journeys operated by Rambler Coaches are not expected to be affected.

ESCC anticipates being able to provide news of the replacement bus service arrangements by the end of November, in readiness for their start after Christmas. It is not intended that Northiam and Rye Harbour should be left without direct links into Rye.

Source: ESCC

Photo: Rye News Library

There Are 5 Comments

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  1. John Stedman says:

    I can’t say that I’m surprised that usage is low.

    The service to Peasmarsh and Northiam used to provide a useful link along the coast to Hastings. Every hour. Then it was revised to run to Rye Harbour, so it effectively became a link to Rye – and timings did not readily connect with other bus and train services).

    But what really killed it for me was going to a two hour frequency. That really made me think twice and get the car out……..

    If we’re going to fund public transport properly (and my personal view is that we should, as we’re all affected by two many vehicles on our roads) then it has to be done properly. To do it by halves is not to do it at all, as has been neatly demonstrated in this case.

  2. Audrey Dent says:

    I heartily agree with John Stedman’s comments. Living in Peasmarsh both my husband and I used the 2 hourly service into Rye regularly as it gave time enough for a quick bank/ shopping or library visit. We don’t want to wait about for the extra hour. Inevitably we now get the car out and add to the awful parking problems in Rye.
    A leisurely trip to Hastings was possible and most enjoyable on the original route.
    Of course usage is low! One wonders whether it was a devious way of cutting the bus service altogether on the grounds of low usage.

  3. Jasmine says:

    I’ve just stayed in Rye a week, after living 7 years in London so I was quite concerned that there would only be one bus every two hours from Rye to Tenterden. I had to get to Iden, and taxis were erratic and difficult to book in less you booked well in advance. The walk was about 35 mins from Rye and I didn’t fancy that in the dark.

    The bus driver’s were friendly, and helpful, but the bus itself is a bone shaker and goes too fast, best not eat your lunch before a trip!

    I known its country service, but surely they could put one on an hour and have them run a bit later?

  4. John Stedman says:

    Surely there is actually an opportunity here, to place local bus services on a sounder financial footing and, at the same time, address some of the severe parking problems that we currently have in Rye? Services timed to be convenient for shop workers, as long term parking seems to block a number of spaces all day? A park and ride facility with some buses between the facility and the town – running rather more frequently than every two hours – being integrated into other routes, thus making rural routes more attractive. And lastly, making the service attractive to all with a simple (flat) fare structure and a frequency that is actually useful.

    Of course, we could do nothing and save the cost of underwriting these rural links (which are a lifeline to many). And then we could all go onto the media and complain about parking problems in our local town, and how parking wardens will one day save our world…… so we can park in it again!

  5. Lin Pierpoint says:

    Not everyone can afford to run a car, I certainly can t, and I rely on the 312 to get me to Iden about three times a week. The Renown bus drivers are all really friendly and helpful and it would be a great shame for them to lose their routes. Elderly people also rely on this bus service to attend hospital appointments and to enable them to get out and socialise where otherwise they would be very isolated. I hope the council will enable Renown to keep up their very reliable service albeit with bone shaker buses, but better that than none at all or the return to the very unreliable Service we had before with quite grumpy drivers!

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