Moving with the times: Nevill produces its own bus timetable

Ann Link reports on a resident-driven initiative on Lewes’ Nevill Estate to get more people using the local buses – by knowing when they will turn up.

It started at a bus stop. I showed Sarah O’Kane my pocket list of buses back from Lewes town centre, and she said that around 20 years ago, she had produced a bus times leaflet for Barcombe, as part of efforts to encourage more sustainable travel.

For a while, we and a few others on the Nevill estate have been producing a spreadsheet of local bus times to keep on the kitchen wall, with a folded list in our pockets for return from Lewes. It’s useful because there are several buses that pass the estate on the Nevill Road, on their way to various villages. These often seem to have random times but are very useful once you know.

Use it or lose it

It’s also good to have a list in order of time so that you can easily see when the next bus goes. Often on bus stops there is a compound timetable with all the stops, which is difficult to read in a hurry.

The 128, which goes round the estate, has improved recently, becoming more frequent and regular. We even have more Sunday buses. This is because East Sussex County Council applied for some government money to add to their public transport subsidy, and the Town Council continued to provide theirs.

The improved service is being celebrated with some amazement by public transport enthusiasts and is part of the inspiration for the leaflet. After all, we must make sure people use the buses, or they might vanish again.

Sarah agreed to write text for the bus leaflet and lead the project. She and others attended meetings of Nevill Residents Association, and the committee voted to fund printing.

The leaflet includes information about bus apps and mentions the QR codes on bus stops that people with smart phones can use to find the time of the next bus. Inside there is a timetable for the estate 128, and on the back, a comprehensive list of all buses going through or past the estate every hour. There are details of Travel Log Lewes for train and bus news, and contact details for bus companies.

Sarah contacted Compass Bus, who provide most of the buses, for permission. Initially, they wanted the timetable delayed because they might have needed to make small changes to the times. But in the end there were no changes.

Spreading the word

There were also still some doubts from some residents about the value of the leaflet. So the project dragged on a bit, but Sarah was not daunted. Finally, in January, it was printed and distributed, at a cost of a mere £85 for over 700 dwellings. 

I delivered a few, and knocked on some people’s doors – mostly they were really enthusiastic and grateful. One of our councillors suggested taking some to Tourist Information, where they were well received. Since then, people have been giving them to the bus drivers so they know what we have done, and to people on the allotments or who live near but not actually on the estate.

We will now have to keep promoting the leaflet and hope that – through this simple step – the numbers of people using our local buses increases.