The number of bus journeys made in Brighton & Hove has doubled in 20 years, according to the latest figures. Bus journeys soared from 22 million in 1992/3 to 44.8 million in 2012/13. The figure represents the total number of single passenger journeys within the city using all eight bus operators. The huge popularity of buses in Brighton & Hove reflects successful partnerships between the council and operators, and sustained private and public investment in services over the years to make it easy and convenient for people to travel by bus. Having strong partnerships has put the city in a strong position to win government funding for transport, most recently being awarded £3.4 million for the ‘Better Bus Area’ and over £4 million to improve Lewes Road. Another successful feature of joint working has been the ability to match services to the differing needs of residents, workers and visitors to encourage them to use buses more.
Mark Prior, head of transport at Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “We work with our partners to provide a public transport network that offers good choice, is easy to use and convenient. More people choosing to use buses will also help to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”
Nick Hill, Commercial Manager at Metrobus, added: “Brighton & Hove is an excellent environment to operate bus services in thanks to the bus priority infrastructure provided by the city council. This was a key factor in our decision to more than quadruple our services to the city last year. Many other towns and cities in the UK could learn from Brighton & Hove's experience of the benefits of such strong partnership with bus operators.”
Chris Chatfield, Managing Director of Compass Travel, said: “We are very pleased to be operating a number of contracted bus routes in Brighton & Hove. The partnership approach between the council and bus operators is the key to this huge growth in patronage. We are very keen to play our part in this and look forward to the continuing future growth and success of the bus network”.
Martin Harris, Managing Director of Brighton & Hove Bus Company, said: “Brighton & Hove has been a big success because we work hard to ensure the bus services respond to what people want and working in partnership means we can achieve so much more. It’s good to know that bus travel in the city is continuing to go from strength to strength.”
Andrew Dyer, from Stagecoach South, said: “Our continual investment into new vehicles, smarter ticketing, more frequent services and the introduction of the concessionary fare scheme alongside improvements made by the council, has encouraged more people in the Brighton and Hove area to use the bus. Passenger numbers on Stagecoach services have almost doubled in seven years."
In percentage terms Stagecoach South has seen growth of 97% since 2005/6.
Tom Druitt from the Big Lemon Bus Company, said: “It's wonderful to hear that more and more people are using the buses and I'm proud of the small role that The Big Lemon has played in that. I look forward to working with the city council and the other operators in the city to make the buses more and more convenient, affordable and sustainable."
Brighton & Hove City Council has provided a number of features that aid bus services, including:
• A network of priority bus lanes on key routes, such as the Western Road/North Street corridor and the A259 coast road
• Real Time Information signs at bus stops that let people know when buses are due – these have also increasingly been installed in buildings so that people can time when they leave to avoid waiting for the bus. The system can also be accessed from mobile phones and Brighton & Hove was the first council to launch an iphone app to do this
• Being the first council to introduce ‘talking bus stops’ for visually impaired people so they can access the ‘real time’ information and be independent travellers
• Bus priority at traffic signals which gives buses a head start in traffic, delivering passengers to their destinations quicker and helping with punctuality
• In 2004, Brighton & Hove became the only English city, outside London, to operate a commercially viable night bus service when the bus route N7 was launched
• A Quality Bus Partnership that has produced a number of initiatives, including making bus stops more accessible (providing a level surface from the pavement onto the bus)
• Joint work on specific projects with bus companies on improving routes, such as the Lewes Road transport corridor and the better bus area for Edward Street, Eastern Road and Valley Gardens.
• Support through winning EU funding on the introduction of ‘The Key,’ a card that enables people to prepay their journeys on a card that can be scanned on the bus
• Breeze Up to the Downs, a successful partnership service that links buses from the centre to some of the most popular countryside destinations outside the city
Recently retired boss of Brighton & Hove Buses is to be given life membership of The Big Lemon's flagship 42 service in recognition of outstanding achievements and services to the city's bus services.
A special meeting of The Big Lemon's Board of Directors was called for Thursday 9 May to confer the honour on 58-year-old Mr French.
A report to The Big Lemon's Board of Directors said: “Roger French has spent nearly 30 years at the wheel of Brighton and Hove Buses and has had a long and distinguished career which has included his tireless work in promoting the spirit of partnership in the city."
A spokesperson from The Big Lemon said "They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so we're very grateful to Roger for his contribution to our business and to social enterprise in the city."
Life membership of the 42, The Big Lemon's first ever service, will give Mr French unlimited travel between Brighton and the University of Sussex. The 42 is historically The Big Lemon's most popular service, with huge numbers of people posting their support for the service on Facebook. When their service became under threat, passengers also came together with a petition to save it which attracted over 2000 signatures in just a few weeks.
This morning the snow made it impossible to run any bus services to Ovingdean, Woodingdean, Falmer and Coldean, but they have now all returned to normal!
We apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of disruption to your bus service earlier.
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The Big Lemon CIC is a Community Interest Company registered in England and Wales no. 6045786.
Registered Office: Protran House, Boundary Road, Brighton BN2 5TJ.