Popular Sunday bus service to continue into next year

A Stagecoach bus
A Stagecoach bus

A Sunday bus service linking rural communities with towns in East Sussex and Kent, will continue into next year.

The Stagecoach 349 bus service between Hastings and Cranbrook – connecting there with Arriva 5 to Maidstone – was restored in spring 2017 after a four-year absence.

The popular service will continue through winter 2018 and summer 2019 with five return services a day.

Derrick Coffee, county officer for Campaign for Better Transport – East Sussex, said: “Key to the start-up was a recognition that the growing annual visitor numbers at Bodiam Castle (200,000) and on Kent and East Sussex Railway (100,000) are mainly reliant on cars, putting pressure on local lanes and land for parking.

“Now there’s a seven-days-a-week public transport option, with rail connections at Hastings (for Stagecoach bus 349) and Staplehurst (for Arriva bus 5). These connections make ‘car free’ days out feasible to/from London/Brighton/Eastbourne.

“Voluntary groups, organisations, parishes, the National Trust, 1066 Marketing and individuals raised sufficient funds to support summer Sunday/school holiday services. At this point, East Sussex and Kent County Councils began conversations with Stagecoach and Arriva resulting in recognition of the ‘cross border’ link and offering limited but crucial support, including for publicity.

“Rother Voluntary Action helpfully held the funds raised and the idea was backed by Rother Transport Action Group. Commitment of the cross border Hawkhurst Transport Access Group – with Bodiam and Sandhurst parish members – was also notable and helpful, and the regular attendance of Stagecoach and Arriva at their meetings reflects the shared efforts of all to secure a high quality and comprehensive local and regional bus service. The fruits of this are certainly a great example of partnership working.”