An Ashdown Forest scene

Ashdown Forest Saturday bus is little used

A subsidised bus service running on Saturdays between Uckfield and Hartfield, via the Ashdown Forest, is struggling to attract passengers.

Low usage was reported when Uckfield town councillors were asked for further money to keep the 262 service running after Christmas.

Seaford and District Bus Services said it would not run the Saturday 261 service to East Grinstead from May 2016.

The new route was put in to travel to Hartfield, via Maresfield and Nutley, stopping at locations around the Forest, operated by Wealdlink community transport.

Uckfield town and Maresfield parish councils agreed to subsidise the service but it was clear more money was needed to keep the bus running in the new year.

Initially, the town council put in £2,000, with £2,000 from Maresfield and £1,000 from the Wealden Bus Alliance.

The new 262 service began on May 28 and each Saturday runs from 9.20am to 5.03pm, making four circuits of the Ashdown Forest, stopping at more attractions than the previous 261 service did.

In the first 14 weeks of service, a total of 243 passenger journeys had been made (199 concessionary).

Of the 44 bought tickets, 15 were singles, 25 returns, two child and two Discovery.

Attempts are being made to claim part of the value of the concessionary fares issued on this service.

Councillors agreed a grant of £1,200 to keep the service operating until the end of March. Maresfield is making a similar contribution.

Members of Uckfield Town Council general purposes committee asked why Hartfield had not made a contribution. They were told it was supporting another service, which was being used less than expected, to take villagers shopping in Crowborough.

There were also concerns that the bus was taking people away from Uckfield at a time when the High Street improvement works were finished and shopkeepers were looking to boost trade.

262 bus timetable (external link)

See also:

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