Brighton faces losing coach services

Posted On 03 Aug 2011 at 8:46 am

Thousands of coach passengers face a big reduction in services to and from Brighton if a concessionary scheme is axed, according to a senior industry figure.

Andrew Cleaves, a senior executive at National Express, Britain’s biggest coach operator, said that 53,000 passengers leave or arrive in Brighton by coach each year.

And these account for one in seven coach journeys that begin or end in the town.

Many of those arriving by coach are tourists and shoppers who spend money in local shops, cafés, bars, pubs and restaurants.

Mr Cleaves has written to Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, who has in turn written to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to raise the matter.

The threat comes from the withdrawal of the coach concessionary travel scheme from the end of October.

The decision to scrap the scheme, which gives half-price coach travel to over 60s and the disabled, was announced in the comprehensive spending review last year.

It was projected to save £20 million a year.

Impact

Mr Cleaves said: “I do not believe that the Department for Transport has fully considered the impact of the scheme’s withdrawal.

“It is different to the free bus pass scheme but is very popular.”

He said that the announcement “appeared to run counter – at least to the spirit – of the Prime Minister’s statements ahead of the general election to protect free bus passes for disabled and those over 60”.

He added: “The viability of a number of our services is threatened.

“The scheme’s withdrawal could not only affect the ability of those currently eligible to travel, but also have a knock-on effect on the viability of some existing services which currently serve Brighton.

“A reduction in existing service levels would, of course, affect many more passengers than those who directly benefit from the concessionary scheme.”

Mr Kirby asked Mr Hammond to consider “the impact on local coach services of the withdrawal of the coach concessionary travel scheme”.

He said: “Many older people use the scheme to get around by discounted coach tickets to see family and friends and this boosts the number of services that can be run and operated.

“I have asked the Transport Secretary to comment on National Express’s concerns and how Brighton’s coach services will be affected.”

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