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Stagecoach pledges to safeguard transport links

19 Mar 2015

Local bus company Stagecoach has announced plans to extend its commercial bus operations to secure the future of several council funded bus services. The company has confirmed that from 26 April it will be able to run buses from Tenterden to Hastings and from Rye to Hastings, through Fairlight on a completely commercial basis.

The news should alleviate the fears of local people whose bus services may have been reduced following a review by East Sussex County Council of the supported bus network in the county.

The Wave Bus

Stagecoach will extend its route 2, which currently runs from Ashford to Tenterden, on to Northiam and Hastings hourly throughout the day, replacing threatened routes 340 and 341.

The popular coastal ‘Wave’ route linking Dover, Folkestone, Romney Marsh and Camber to Rye and Hastings is set to be doubled in frequency to half hourly throughout the day, the extra journeys will serve Fairlight between Rye and Hastings to replace council supported route 344. The Rye to Hastings route through Fairlight will be numbered 101, running hourly during the week and two hourly on Sundays. The original Rye to Hastings route via Icklesham will be numbered 100.

Within Hastings, Wave 100/101 buses will continue running to Bohemia and Silverhill with most extended to Conquest Hospital. Route 101 will serve Sedlescombe Road North rather than Harrow Lane.

From the same date, Sunday evening journeys on the Hastings Arrows town routes 20, 21, 22 will be slightly reduced; however there will be no reduction on Monday to Saturday evenings. Route 24 will continue to operate, although the last journeys in each direction will be withdrawn.

Stagecoach will continue to run routes 7, 27, 29, and 347 under contract to ESCC, although the number of journeys will be reduced. The council will also continue to fund the Bank Holiday service on routes 254 (Hawkhurst to Tunbridge Wells), 304/5 (Hastings to Hawkhurst via Battle & Robertsbridge) and 349 (Hastings to Hawkhurst via Sedlescombe and Bodiam) although the Sunday service will be withdrawn.

Philip Norwell, managing director of Stagecoach in East Sussex said: “As 95% of our routes already operate on a commercial basis with subsidies generally only received for certain non-viable evening and Sunday journeys, we would like to reassure customers that most of our services have been unaffected.

“We are pleased that we have also been able to maintain several important transport links by extending and rerouting some of our existing services, which will hopefully be a sustainable solution.”

Fares will increase on these routes to match commercial levels, with Stagecoach standard Megarider and Dayrider products replacing the current council weekly tickets.

Karl Taylor, East Sussex County Council assistant director of operations, said: “We have always said that while the financial pressures we’re facing mean we do need to make changes to the supported bus network, we’d try and reduce the impact on passengers where possible.

“We very much welcome the intervention of Stagecoach and their commitment to continue this service as a commercial operation.”

All changes come into place on 26 April. New timetables and route maps will be available online in early April.