The number of people using buses has grown for the 12th year running.

Brighton and Hove Bus Company is celebrating another year of passenger increases, with 4.4 per cent more people using the city's buses compared to 2004.

Managing director Roger French is delighted with the figures, which come after a year in which fares rose twice due to the rising cost of diesel.

He expects another rise in passenger numbers this year but warned if the price of oil kept rising, he would have to cut costs, as passengers would not stomach another increase.

He said: "The number of people using the buses has been rising since 1993, which is against the national trend.

"It's down to a combination of things. We've increased our frequency on busier routes.

"We've increased the frequency of route 25, taking students and staff to the universities, so that at peak times there is a bus more than once every five minutes, whereas formerly that route ran every half-hour.

"We've invested in new buses and equipment. Eighteen new buses arrived last year and Brighton and Hove City Council is investing in new real-time information displays for bus stops."

Peter Elvidge, a member of the Brighton and Hove branch of Bus Users UK, said:

"It's because they offer a good service. There are areas that aren't so good - some of the estates have less frequent services - but in the central areas it's a good service."

According a report last month by the National Audit Office and the Audit Commission, Brighton and Hove is one of only three cities where bus use is growing.

The others are York, where the bus company has a similar partnership with the city council to the one in Brighton and Hove, and London, which accounts for almost half of all bus use.

Monday, January 9, 2006