Residents of Patcham and East Saltdean complained about the public transport services that their area receives citing an absence of of regular buses and no electronic announcement boards at their stops.
At the Breathe in Brighton event held at the Brighthelm Centre focusing on the air quality, debate turned from air quality to public transport as it became apparent to disgruntled residents that Martin Harris, Managing Director of Brighton and Hove Buses, was in attendance.
Residents of Patcham and Saltdean voiced their concern that their areas have been routinely neglected by improvements to transport links. One resident explained how this neglect effects her everyday life and the lives of those who rely on the service:
“I travel on buses all the time – when I can get one. I have asked before if we can have times of buses displayed in the old Patcham village. Quite often I am stood with elderly people with bus passes who are made to wait 90 minutes.”
Due to there being no electronic announcement boards, passengers are left in limbo waiting at the bus stop with no idea whether the service is running late. As a result, passengers have often been left out in the cold, made to suffer long waits in ignorance.
Audience members repeatedly asserted that this lack of certainty, and the infrequency and irregularity of services, is discouraging residents from taking public transport, suggesting that a better, modernised, and more reliable service would encourage more villagers to rely less on their cars, pointing out that if residents took the bus instead of driving then it would cut down on emissions in the area and improve air quality.
Concern about emissions was particularly big in Patcham, its proximity to the A27 and the tendency for drivers stuck in traffic to idle their engines which produces disproportionately high levels of pollution.
Another resident had concerns on the number of cars on the stretch of coastline from Saltdean into Brighton. She said: “More must be done to encourage people to use the bus service, and not get in their cars.”
Audience members agreed that both Brighton and Hove Buses and Brighton and Hove City Council could do more to encourage residents to prioritise bus use above personal vehicle use in outer suburbs.
The two have already worked in partnership to reduce emissions in the city, with Brighton and Hove City Council implemented the Low Emission Zone in 2015.
Martin Harris, managing director of Brighton and Hove Buses, addressed the concerns. He said:
“We actually measured how many vehicles and how many people move into Brighton during the morning peak, and 48 per cent of people travel into the city in 2 per cent of the vehicles along the stretch from Saltdean into Brighton. It’s a powerful example of what bus priority can do. There’s a big part to be played in reducing emissions by prioritising bus services. Double decker buses can carry 75 people at once – it’s very significant. We have to rely on mass transit to move around the city to reduce emissions in the long run.”