Bus operators to the rescue as Countryliner goes down

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Fears that children could be left waiting at bus stops proved unfounded this week. Operators stepped into the breach to run vital school services after former provider Countryliner went into administration on Monday.

East Sussex County Council found out Countryliner would not be able to fulfil its school contracts late on Monday afternoon.

They scrambled to arrange emergency replacements to ferry pupils to and from school.

The services affected included transport to Uckfield Community Technology College; Heathfield Community College; Sussex Downs College, Lewes; Ringmer Academy; Chailey School; St Peter’s CE School, Chailey; Wivelsfield County Primary; Priory School and Sussex Downs College, both in Lewes.

Other services which faced disruption were the 121 from Newick via Chailey and Cooksbridge to Lewes, the 125 from Barcombe via Cooksbridge and Lewes to Alfriston, the 127 Lewes Landport Estate, 128 Lewes Town, 166, Lewes to Haywards Heath, 259 from Bodle Street to Heathfield and the 824 village rider serving Lewes, Plumpton Green, Wivelsfield Green and Ditchling.

At the time a council spokesman said: “We regret the disruption to bus services that this will cause. Children should be able to get to school as normal but expect delays.”

Helena Read, deputy principal of Uckfield Community Technology College told the Express: “We have been working closely with County’s transport department and two companies have so far picked up our routes.

“All out students are getting in. The council say they will let us know when permanent arrangements are put in place.”

By Wednesday, the council announced a near normal service was being provided on all school and public routes. A number of contingency arrangements were organised with alternative bus companies Stagecoach, Ham’s Travel and Compass Travel until the council and operators can find a long-term solution.

From now on, people wishing to travel on the former Countryliner routes should find their services running as usual although passengers will need to look for buses carrying alternative company names and logos.