26 Mar 2015
Local bus company Stagecoach has announced a raft of changes to east Kent buses which will take effect from 26 April. These include improvements to existing services as well as plans to extend its commercial bus operations to secure the future of several council funded services linking Kent to East Sussex.
On the Dover & Deal ‘Diamond’ bus network, a new Sunday service on route 15B between Dover, River and Canterbury will be introduced. This will provide the people of River with Sunday buses to Canterbury for the first time and will also double the frequency of the Sunday service between Dover and Canterbury to hourly.
There will also be improvements for residents on the other side of the Diamond network as a revised route 13 timetable will provide a 30 minute frequency between Sandwich and Deal (through Sholden), double the current hourly service. There will also be slight timetable changes on routes 12, 60 and 61.
In Canterbury, changes have been planned for route 22 in response to customer feedback. Stagecoach will split the route back into two separate services with route 21/21A running from Hales Place to the city centre, whilst route 22 buses will run from London Road Estate to the city centre. There will also be a new off-peak route, numbered 27, from the city centre to London Road Estate serving St Dunstan’s in both directions. This route will provide a link between Canterbury West Station and the city centre, timed to meet high speed train arrivals. On the Triangle buses to Whitstable & Herne Bay, there will be some timetable changes on morning journeys (route 4 only).
Route 36 from the QEQM in Margate to Herne Bay has been extended to Tankerton, Whitstable and Estuary View, running every hour. The frequency is doubled to every half hour between Whitstable and Estuary View which means this route will replace the temporary Estuary View shuttle bus introduced last year, whilst also providing the medical centre with additional links to Herne Bay, Margate and the QEQM.
Stagecoach has also confirmed that from 26 April it will be able to run buses from Rye to Hastings, through Fairlight, and from Tenterden to Hastings on a completely commercial basis. The news should alleviate the fears of local people whose bus services were set to be reduced following a review by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) of the supported bus network in the county.
The company will extend its route 2, which currently runs from Ashford to Tenterden, on to Northiam and Hastings hourly throughout the day, replacing threatened ESCC routes 340 and 341. The new timetable will also allow additional running time between Ashford and Great Chart to improve punctuality.
The popular coastal ‘Wave’ route linking Dover, Folkestone, Romney Marsh and Camber to Rye and Hastings is set to have more buses throughout the day as the Rye to Hastings leg of the route will see its bus frequency doubled to half hourly. The extra journeys will serve Fairlight between Rye and Hastings to replace ESCC supported route 344. The route through Fairlight will be numbered 101, running hourly during the week and two hourly on Sundays. The original Rye to Hastings route through Icklesham will be numbered 100, also running hourly. The frequency for the Kent end of the route up to Folkestone and Dover will continue to be every 15 minutes.
Philip Norwell, managing director of Stagecoach in East Kent said: “We are delighted to be able to announce so many service improvements across east Kent. We’ve introduced new routes and doubled the frequency of several other existing routes, which will provide better bus services for many local people.
“We’ve listened to customer feedback about route 22 in Canterbury and have managed to address their concerns by reinstating the direct route from Hales Place into the city centre whilst also maintaining the link into St Dunstan’s.
“In the case of the ESCC bus service review, 95% of our routes already operate on a commercial basis with subsidies generally only received for certain non-viable evening and Sunday journeys. We can therefore reassure customers that most of our services into East Sussex have been unaffected.
“We are pleased that we have also been able to maintain several important transport links across the county border by extending and rerouting some of our existing services, which will hopefully be a sustainable solution.”
All changes come into place on 26 April. New timetables and route maps will be available online in early April.