The Urban Dictionary defines a bus geek as “someone who rides Public Transportation for purposes of entertainment”. Apart from the American term public transportation (we have public transport in the UK) this pretty much defines how I spent my Saturday.
There was no logical reason for my friend Chris and I spending just over five hours sitting on buses today, it just seemed like a fun idea. It was a coincidence that I was able to visit and photograph one of the places on my genealogy hit list along the way (more about that in a future post).
In fact the whole journey was a bit like a family history tour, passing through so many places in my family tree. Unfortunately we didn’t actually spend time off the bus anywhere other than Tunbridge Wells, but it was good to be travelling through the landscape of my relatives none the less.
The journey itself was a round trip (otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting at home writing this) of about 90 miles, mainly through East and West Sussex, but also crossing into Kent and Surrey.
For the fellow bus geeks reading this the bus routes were:
- Horsham to Brighton (17, Stagecoach)
- Brighton to Tunbridge Wells (29, Brighton and Hove)
- Tunbridge Wells to Crawley (291, Metrobus)
- Crawley to Horsham (23, Metrobus)
I have travelled on these routes before, but never the complete routes. I don’t think I have ever been to Tunbridge Wells before, by any mode of transport, but I will definitely be heading back there again. Not least because of the famous Hall’s Bookshop.
I was delighted to find a memorial below to Air Chief Marshall Dowding in Calverley Grounds (the park where we sat and enjoyed a sandwich in the sunshine). This was a perfect piece of genealogical synchronicity because he was born in Moffat, Scotland, the same town as my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Kinghorn.
Pendean Farmhouse from Midhurst, Sussex now at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, West Sussex.
Carpenter’s shop at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, West Sussex.
According to the West Sussex County Council (WSCC) website “Bus travel offers a real alternative to the car”, but from September 2011 this might not be the case.
The WSCC have announced a public consultation into their proposals to reduce the subsidies given to local bus companies by £2 million over the next three years. Essentially this means that the bus companies will not be paid to run services which are not profitable enough for them to run in the first place. These are usually (but not alway) evening and weekend services, and usually to small rural villages.
As someone who doesn’t drive a car, buses (and trains) are not an alternative, they are my only method of transport, whether it is to get to work, to go shopping, heading for an archive or heading off somewhere to go walking. Living in a small rural village has its advantages, but access to public transport is not usually one of them.
Looking down the list of proposed cuts the other day was like looking at a list of old friends. Of course the service that I use to get to and from work is on the list (proposed cuts to the evening and Saturday services) but so are many of the buses that I have used in the past when I am out exploring the Sussex countryside or visiting places of interest.
Of course this blog is not the place to lodge my objections, that can be done in a variety of ways described on the WSCC website. The deadline for consultation is the 10th June 2011, so if you are a user of any West Sussex bus services then make sure you check out the website and see if you might be affected and make your opinions known.
If these cuts go ahead the public transport network in West Sussex is going to be radically different this time next year (and I might need to get myself bike).