A community campaign group has described proposals to end subsidies for two bus routes as an “own goal”.

The £58,000 subsidy for the 77 to the Devil’s Dyke from Easter to mid-June and the 79 to Ditchling Beacon are due to go in Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget cuts.

But Brighton Active Travel has criticised the move, saying that it would affect services that benefit the poorest people.

The loss of £29,000 for the 77 Devil’s Dyke service would remove the “enhancement” to the weekend and public holiday operation, reducing the service from two buses an hour to just one.


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The weekday service is subsidised for a few months at the start of the season – from Easter – and buses do not run at all on the route from September to Easter.

Removing the £29,000 subsidy from the 79 route to Ditchling Beacon would result in the end of the summer service.

Both routes – referred to as “Breeze up to the Downs” services – are operated by Brighton and Hove Buses.

Brighton Active Travel said: “It would be a bizarre own-goal if the Labour-run council in Brighton and Hove cuts the 77 and 79, two buses that give the greatest benefits to the poorest people.

“These buses are the cheapest way to get to the Downs quickly and people with the lowest incomes need that the most so the council would be kicking people who have the least.

“Mental health and physical wellbeing are boosted by getting out into the fresh air and relative peace of the South Downs on the 77 and 79 buses.”

The group is also concerned that the proposals would encourage more people to drive to the South Downs, increasing traffic, pollution and danger on the roads. More pressure on parking would also affect blue badge holders.

Brighton Active Travel said: “All this at a time when the council wants more people to travel by bus and reduce car journeys.

“For such a relatively small saving, many vulnerable groups would be harmed and the Labour-run council would be gambling with its own reputation.”

An equality impact assessment included in the council’s budget papers said that the proposals would adversely affect older people, children and the disabled.

There are more than 30,000 people in Brighton and Hove with an older persons’ bus pass – and a higher than average percentage of older people use supported services.

The assessment said that older people were also less likely to drive as their age increased, in part because of associated health conditions and disabilities.

Younger people also used the services as did people with disabilities. More than 50,000 people in Brighton and Hove – nearly one in five – had a disability and 6,500 had concessionary bus passes.

The assessment also said: “Access to leisure activities, the countryside and, in particular, to health walks at Stanmer Park may be curtailed by the loss of the Breeze up to the Downs services.

“In addition, retail and doctors/hospital appointments may be more difficult or costly for people to attend.

“Young people show the highest levels of importance for good local bus services.

“The ‘Breeze’ services serve schools on their route and, if cut, there may be barriers to education as well as social and leisure activities as young people are less likely to have access to any other form of transport.”

The annual “budget council” meeting is due to start at 4.30pm on Thursday 22 February.