Why was there no bus service on New year’s Day?

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I am writing to express my concerns about the lack of bus services around Eastbourne on New Year’s Day, because of a management decision by South Coast Buses that this “service” would be unprofitable.

The issue of poor performance by SCB in provision of services around the town, especially out to growing satellite communities like Heathfield, has been raised before in the cloumns of the Express by others.

This is far from the first time I have had cause to protest at what I consider to be a lack of public-spiritedness by SCB.

In 2002, I ran a highly successful petition against SCB’s then decision to withdraw late-night services on the 12 route between Eastbourne and Seaford. That decision was later reversed after county and local funding was made available, and since SCB withdrew from its share of the 12 services some years later, the coastal services have been progressively improved under Brighton and Hove Buses.

There were many people in the Eastbourne area who would have liked B and H rather than SCB to take over the the local Eastbourne services.

However SCB had far more to gain as they could replace (and sell off for development) the old Southdown Garage with the existing Eastbourne Buses depot.

Now we are told that all the real-time display signs which were put in around Eastbourne with a fanfare of publicity will be out of use “for up to two years” because they are outmoded. They seem to work fine all over Brighton as far as I can see.

The loss of services on New Year’s Day did not just hurt visitors like myself. There were no services to Eastbourne District General Hospital either for all the people who had wanted to visit relatives and friends in hospital. The town centre suffered too, just when High Street shops are suffering from pressures from the internet and out-of-town shopping centres.

If SCB are intent to work only when it is profitable for them, then some kind of subsidy should have been offered from the borough and county councils, in my view.

From my sources within the bus lobby, I understand Eastbourne was far from being alone in having no bus services on New Year’s Day. This is an issue I fully intend bringing up with Norman Baker MP in his capacity as minister responsible for urban road transport.

Bob Brown