Deputation on behalf of Meadowview and Coombe Road Area communities – Reduction in bus service

Meadowview and Coombe Road Area communities are significantly isolated parts of the city and we need a sustainable, reliable and long-term solution to the transport needs of our residents. Residents in the Meadowview and Coombe Road Area are extremely concerned at the loss of the twice hourly bus service up and down Coombe Road which was run by Brighton and Hove Buses. The replacement service run by Compass travel is less direct and only provides one bus up Coombe Road an hour and residents have a number of concerns – please see the appendix. Residents also recall that this service has been repeatedly under threat in the past.

Our communities are isolated and physically challenging to access. Residents believe that Meadowview was given planning permission on the understanding that regular, direct public transport to the area would be maintained.

We think that the reduction of bus service to our community contradicts the current Brighton and Hove Local Transport Plan (1) and means that some of the most socially excluded residents in Brighton and Hove (2) now have reduced access to services and amenities and are having to pay higher transport costs than those in other areas.

The reduced service is increasing the isolation of an already deprived community:
Residents need to have a regular bus service in order to be able to work, take children to school, access services and amenities, maintain social networks, access cultural activities and reduce the use of private vehicles. Regular public transport is also necessary for visitors to the cemeteries, the Care Home and Sussex Beacon, a service for men and women living with HIV. All of the users of these services may be unable to walk up the steep gradient – Bear Road has a maximum and average gradient of 1:8 and 1:11 respectively (3).

Residents of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean rely on public transport with only 38% having a car or van (6). Walking may not be an option for many residents and especially the 8.1% of residents whose activity is limited as a result of poor health (4). Residents report that public transport links are essential for maintaining their employment (5) and for many moving to the Meadowview-Coombe Road area was only viable due to the twice hourly bus links to the station.

The removal of an evening bus service will exacerbate this isolation further:
The end of council funding for the evening bus service to Meadowview and Coombe Road Area will leave residents socially isolated and prevent individuals from accessing the rich cultural life of the city.

Residents are fearful that they will be vulnerable to harm without an evening bus service and this fear of crime will further isolate residents. 24% of older people in city felt unsafe after dark (6). Residents are also concerned about the impact of the reduction in bus service during the winter months when pavements are risky and unusable due to ice.

Meadowview has no shops, doctor surgeries, pharmacies, dentists or launderettes. No evening service to this community effectively means those without access to cars are stranded without access to essential services during the evenings. Residents who are shift workers will be without transport.

We need an evening service, a regular and direct service and one that is sustainable.

This deputation is supported by:

Rebecca Barkaway, (Lead Spokeperson)
Stephanie Hedger
Mike Fitzsimons
Kate Honeyford
Sheena Hewens
Charles Titherley
Chris Jones,
Amelia Mills

Appendix:

Concerns raised by Coombe Road Area/Meadowview residents regarding local bus service
Residents of the Coombe Road/Meadowview area have raised a number of concerns based on their experiences using the local bus service, which include the following:

– Buses running early and late from Meadowview terminus
– Buses cancelled, especially the 7.34am from Meadowview and the 3.22pm extra school
bus service from the bottom of Coombe Road to Meadowview
– Overcrowding of buses, especially in the early evening
– Drivers are not aware of the correct fares
– Discourtesy of some drivers
– Weekday bus timetable is not useful for St Martin’s Primary School times
– Buses are not meeting the timed stops
– Driving past bus stops/stopping for too short a time/not stopping to let passengers off
– Early morning bus not arriving – the service children use to get to school
– Buses are taken off with no notice
– Lost property must be collected from office located in Worthing
– Not all concessionary cards are accepted – eg children’s bus ID
– Buses are not well spaced when they reach Sainsbury’s, Lewes Road
– Delay in installation of Real Time displays at bus stops
– Bus routes are complicated and inconvenient

Sources cited in Deputation:

1. Brighton and Hove Local Transport Plan 4: Delivery plan 2015/16: ‘support local PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES with the greatest need who are the most vulnerable, develop more cohesive, inclusive and sustainable local NEIGHBOURHOODS and improve LINKS, ROUTES AND SERVICES to/from, or in, key local and central destinations’
2. The Meadowview community has high levels of deprivation (Brighton and Hove Snapshot – Report of statistics, 2014). Our ward of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean has higher number of income-deprived old people than other areas in Brighton (The Income Deprivation Affecting Older People Index (IDAOPI) 2010 quoted in Brighton and Hove Snapshot – Report of statistics, 2014) and high levels of child poverty – children receiving free school meals is an accepted indicator of child poverty and Moulsecoomb and Bevendean has a high number of children (37%) who fall into this category (Brighton and Hove Snapshot – Report of statistics, 2014).
3. Collis, R, The New Encyclopaedia of Brighton, 2010
4. Brighton and Hove Independent, 2015
5. 86.2% of the residents in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean are employed and many report the public transport links as essential for maintaining their employment (Brighton and Hove Independent, 2015)
6. Brighton and Hove City Snapshot – Report of Statistics 2014