The number of bus users in Sussex is continuing to soar, according to figures published today.

Last year bus companies across the county recorded 79,543,773 passenger journeys, compared with 76,727,872 the year before.

The biggest increase was recorded in West Sussex where journeys rose by nearly 2 million in the space of a year to 22,337,773 from 2007 to 2008.

In the same year bus journeys in East Sussex increased by nearly a million to 17,805,293 while the journey count in Brighton and Hove remained at a steady but healthy 39.4million.

The latest figures have been hailed by senior transport bosses as a success for sustainable transport.

Clive Roberts, head of transport for West Sussex County Council, said: "The latest figures are excellent news.

"As a council we are doing all we can to encourage people to leave their cars at home whenever possible and use public transport because of the impact that can have on congestion and pollution."

The steady increase has been largely attributed to a myriad free and low-cost bus pass schemes.

Earlier the Government launched a free bus pass for over 60s allowing them to travel the length and breadth of the country without paying a penny.

The number of bus journeys on Sussex buses is expected to rise again from 2008 to 2009 as over 60s benefit from this pass and people are forced to seek alternative transport because of the rising cost of fuel.

West Sussex County Council has also introduced a discount bus pass for people aged five to 19 in full-time education. The three in one card offers cheaper bus fares at all times of the day, gives holders discounts in a wide range of shops and attractions and doubles up as a proof of age.

Coun Roberts said: "The card is also good news for families at a time when the cost of living is rising because many young people probably have their bus fares paid for by their parents."

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