Read or download the Bus Service Improvement Plan

Front cover of the Bus improvement plan. Person buying a ticket from an office. Stagecoach bus. Bus driver. Person stepping off a bus.


Brighton & Hove’s bus network forms a crucial role in helping people get to work and school and experiencing all the city has to offer. Although services are recognised nationally, there remains much more we need to do. Encouraging people back on to buses as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and then growing passenger numbers, will be critical to helping the council meet its objective for a carbon neutral city by 2030.

To help us achieve this, I am pleased to submit our Bus Service Improvement Plan to the Department for Transport. This is a plan which responds to the aims of the National Bus Strategy to improve services, including lower fares and bus priority.

We need the city’s buses to be at the forefront of our commitments to address climate change. This will include making it easier for more residents and visitors to travel by means other than the private car. Upgrading to zero emissions bus fleets will also be key.

We would like tickets to be simpler and need to make sure people are always getting the lowest priced fare available to them. In addition, we would like to see lower fares and have included measures to provide cheaper travel for young people. Our ultimate aim is to be able to provide free travel to young people.

Our BSIP will be complemented by our wider transport policies and schemes, including our commitments to active travel and considering options for the expansion of the city’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone and the introduction of a Liveable City Centre.


1. Executive Summary


Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) were introduced by the Department for Transport (DfT) in its National Bus Strategy, Bus Back Better, published in March 2021. This document provides the BSIP for Brighton & Hove. It was approved by all members of the Council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee on 21 September 2021.


The BSIP is a strategic document and its purpose is for the council and local bus operators to set out how bus services in the city could be improved. Specifically, this includes how the council and operators will respond to the aspirations of the National Bus Strategy and grow bus use.


Brighton & Hove benefits from a nationally recognised bus network. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the city saw a sustained increase in bus use and had the highest number of bus trips per head amongst English local authorities outside of London. A contributor to this has been the Quality Bus Partnership between the council, operators and bus users, which the National Bus Strategy cites as an example of success. The council and operators have a strong track record of working through the partnership to deliver improvements to bus services. Operators have innovated and invested heavily to deliver high quality, frequent services, which in many parts of the country is not the case. This has been aided by successive administrations of the council who have introduced policies which encourage bus use.


However, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented a major challenge to bus services nationally and locally. Ways of working and journey patterns have changed significantly and it remains unclear what the long-term implications of this will be. It will be crucial that the proportion of trips made by bus not only returns to pre-pandemic levels but increases if the council is to achieve its ambitions for a carbon neutral city by 2030.


Bus users tell us they are happy with bus services in the city but some perceive fares to be high. Requests are also commonly made for new or amended bus routes and cleaner buses, whilst bus journeys are also less reliable and taking longer than they did a few years ago. This is increasing operating costs and, consequently, fares. The council supports a number of bus services to communities not directly served by commercial services, including some of its most deprived areas; however, there remain some gaps in provision and the service provided is not consistent with the rest of the city. The BSIP sets out how the council and operators aim to address these issues.


The National Bus Strategy is ambitious in setting out its plans for improving services and growing bus use. It is also clear that areas which had experienced success before the pandemic, such as Brighton & Hove, need to go further and the BSIP needs to respond to this challenge.


The schemes proposed include measures to enhance services to the least well-served parts of the city and the South Downs National Park. Measures are also included to attract people who would not usually use the bus and improve journeys for those who already do. Schemes to achieve this include simplifying ticketing and helping passengers to always get the lowest fare available, offering more discounts and free travel including for young people, providing better information and making journeys faster. It also sets out ambitions for zero emissions buses.


The measures included in this BSIP will be complemented by other initiatives planned by the council, including current work on exploring options for a Liveable City Centre and an expansion of the city centre Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to cover other parts of Brighton & Hove.


Many of the schemes identified are currently unfunded; however, the BSIP will be used as the basis for future funding bids and the DfT has said that the ambition shown in BSIPs will be a factor in determining these.


The following pages provide a summary of the key targets and actions contained in this BSIP.

2. Introduction


This section provides an introduction to BSIPs and the content of the BSIP for Brighton & Hove.

Area covered by the BSIP


The Brighton & Hove BSIP covers the whole area within the Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) boundary. A map of the area covered is provided in Figure 2.1.


Some services do operate into neighbouring authorities, meaning there is overlap with the BSIPs being developed by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) whilst two services also continue beyond Sussex into Kent and Hampshire. Measures concerning cross-boundary services have been discussed with neighbouring authorities to ensure that BSIPs are consistent.

Figure 2.1: Map showing Brighton & Hove City Council area covered by this BSIP

Contains Ordnance Survey and National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right

What is the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)?


BSIPs were introduced by the DfT in its National Bus Strategy, published in March 2021, where it asked all Local Transport Authorities to produce BSIPs by the end of October. This document provides the first BSIP for Brighton & Hove. It will then be updated annually as required by the DfT.


BSIPs are strategic documents which set out how councils and bus operators will work together to implement the actions of the national bus strategy. The DfT’s BSIP guidance states:

“the overall aim of the BSIP and its individual sections is to explain LTA ambition to improve buses and the plans and policies that will deliver them.”


Specifically, BSIPs are required to:

  • focus on delivering the bus network that LTAs (in consultation with operators) want to see, including how to address the underprovision and overprovision of bus services and ensuring buses integrate with other modes
  • set out how they will grow bus use
  • set out how they will be delivered


The detail on specific schemes will follow on from this BSIP. This would include consultation around certain proposals, for example, bus priority schemes, and all measures would be subject to funding being identified.

Relationship with Enhanced Partnership


This document will form the basis of an Enhanced Partnership agreement between the council and bus operators. The DfT has asked that all councils not already pursuing franchising introduce an Enhancement Partnership. This is a statutory arrangement under the Transport Act 2000 (as amended by the Bus Services Act 2017). In Brighton & Hove, the Enhanced Partnership will build on the long-standing Quality Bus Partnership but will be a more formal arrangement with agreed targets and actions and regular reporting against these.


Members of the council’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability (ETS) Committee agreed that the council should set out its intent to form an Enhanced Partnership in June 2021. The DfT require Enhanced Partnerships to be in place by April 2022.


Get more information about the development of the Enhanced Partnership.


The council is also separately exploring the feasibility of franchising. Whether this is pursued further would be subject to a number of considerations; however, as required by the National Bus Strategy, the council is committed to the Enhanced Partnership as a means of delivering the necessary improvements in the first instance.

Duration and review of the BSIP


The BSIP is a living document and will be subject to an annual review. An update report on progress against targets will be presented to the ETS Committee in the autumn of each year.

Alignment with wider transport plans


The BSIP will be aligned with the Local Transport Plan (LTP) and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). Further details are provided in Section 3.

Contents of the BSIP


The structure and content of this BSIP is as follows and is based on the DfT’s BSIP Guidance (Bus service improvement plans – guidance to local authorities and bus operators (DfT, 2021).

  • Section 3 provides a summary of relevant national and local policy
  • Section 4 provides an overview of the current situation for buses in the city
  • Section 5 sets targets for the BSIP
  • Section 6 outlines proposed measures, including for improving infrastructure, improving ticketing and delivering cleaner vehicles
  • Section 7 details how the BSIP will be reviewed in future years
  • Section 8 provides the overview table


The BSIP also incorporates the Bus Passenger Charter which can be found in Appendix A. Evidence of operator involvement in and support for the BSIP is provided in Appendix B.

3. Strategic and Policy Context


This section provides background on the national policy guiding the development of BSIPs. It also summarises relevant local policies and how the BSIP relates to these.

National policy

National Bus Strategy


The government’s new National Bus Strategy for England, Bus Back Better, sets out its ambitions to grow bus usage. This asked all local authorities to commit to forming an Enhanced Partnership with operators by April 2022 (see Section 2.8), produce a BSIP by October 2021 and to have the Enhanced Partnership in place by April 2022.

The National Bus Strategy is complemented by guidance on the development of:


In particular, the government has a desire to make bus services:

  • more frequent
  • faster and more reliable, including bus priority schemes
  • cheaper
  • more comprehensive, reducing overprovision in some areas and addressing underprovision in others, including providing and enhancing socially and economically necessary services
  • easier to understand, including information at bus stops and avoiding complex changes to routes, for example at weekends
  • easier to understand, including common ticketing between operators
  • better to ride in, with more comfortable buses and features such as stop information and WiFi
  • better integrated with other bus services and other modes such as rail
  • cleaner, with aspirations for fleets to become completely zero emissions
  • accessible, including bus stops as well as buses themselves
  • be seen as a safe mode of transport, including information and lighting at bus stops

Other relevant national policies


The National Bus Strategy’s aspirations to grow bus use and decarbonise bus travel are integral to the government’s new plan for decarbonising transport. The decarbonisation of transport cannot be achieved through electrification of vehicles alone and there is a need for more journeys to be undertaken on foot, by bike and by public transport if the UK is to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.


For buses, the decarbonisation plan seeks to:

  • increase mode share for public transport, including addressing the decline caused by the pandemic, noting that car use has returned more quickly
  • redress the balance between the cost of car travel compared to bus, with the relative cost of driving having gone down in recent years
  • achieve a fully zero emissions bus fleet


Related to this is the government’s policy to increase the number of short trips undertaken by active travel. Its Gear Change strategy, published in 2020, sets out a target for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030. This will be achieved in part by improving infrastructure for cycling with all transport schemes required to comply with the LTN 1/20 Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance.


The government has set out clear instructions to local authorities to deliver improvements for buses and active travel. It has stated that a failure to comply with the BSIP process will put at risk both funding for buses and non-bus transport funding (National Bus Strategy - DfT, 2020, page 30).

Likewise, if schemes fail to consider the needs of active travel, wider funding, including for buses, could be limited - LTN 1/20: Cycle Infrastructure Design (DfT, 2020, page 10).

It should be noted however that efforts to increase the proportion of trips by bus, on foot and cycling are complementary. For example, the bus will provide for journeys which are less convenient or practical to complete by active travel, whilst all bus users need to walk or wheel to and from bus stops. Paragraph 3.21 provides further detail on the overlaps between the BSIP and the council’s emerging Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).

Local policy

Council Plan


The Council Plan includes 6 outcomes.

Growing bus use can help support the economy as well as help residents live healthier lives but, in particular, it will help with the outcome to be ‘a sustainable city’.

The council declared a climate emergency in 2018 with a priority for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030. Transport makes a significant contribution to the city’s carbon emissions and developing an active and sustainable travel network will be important in meeting the 2030 target.

Specifically, in terms of buses, the plan seeks to:

  • protect vital bus services, including those the council supports in outlying areas
  • increase bus use by supporting multi-operator fare payment technology
  • improve air quality though clean, efficient buses and seek further investment in zero emissions buses


These aims are reflected in the measures proposed in Section 6 of this BSIP.

Climate Assembly


The council established a climate assembly in 2020 which brought together a representative group of the city’s residents to consider how to tackle climate change over the next ten years. The climate assembly agreed ten recommendations. These are intended to complement each other rather than be delivered as standalone schemes.

However, the following are particularly relevant in the development of the BSIP:

  • Recommendation 1 - to introduce a car free city centre (now known as liveable city centre)
  • Recommendation 2 - that the public transport system should be affordable/accessible
  • Recommendation 5 - the introduction of mobility hubs which provide an interchange between different types of travel, including public transport and cycle hire
  • Recommendation 7 - to introduce a park and ride to minimise car use in the city
  • Recommendation 8 - to make public transport a more convenient alternative to driving a car

Youth Climate Assembly


A youth climate assembly was also established and included the following suggestions on public transport:

  • Improve affordability
  • Encourage uptake of zero emissions buses
  • Improve bus routes to less well connected parts of the city
  • Run a campaign highlighting the cost of driving compared to the cost of using public transport
  • Implement mobility hubs
  • Reduce congestion and introduce more bus lanes to improve the reliability of buses

City Plan


The City Plan Part One was adopted in 2016. It provides policies which guide development in the city to 2030 and decisions on planning applications. This includes Policy CP9, Sustainable Transport, which encourages development to be directed to areas where there are good sustainable transport links and that development supports or provides sustainable transport measures, including bus infrastructure.


The City Plan also sets out the council’s aspirations to provide further bus priority measures on strategic corridors, including Lewes Road, Edward Street and Eastern Road, A259 and London Road. These locations have been considered further in identifying corridors for bus priority measures as part of this BSIP in Section 6.


The City Plan Part One will be accompanied by the City Plan Part Two which will build on the strategic policy framework, identify and allocate additional development sites and set out a detailed policy framework for determining planning applications. This is currently undergoing examination and is expected to be adopted in 2022.


The determination of planning applications is guided by both the National Planning Policy Framework and City Plan. In terms of the impact of development on buses:

  • construction impacts are not a reason for refusal; however, where significant impacts are likely, certain developments will be required to submit a Construction and Environment Management Plans (see emerging City Plan Two Policy DM35)
  • developments which will help and allow occupants to travel sustainably are more likely to be in accordance with City Plan Part One Policy CP9
  • measures to encourage bus use by occupants or users of new developments will be encouraged through Travel Plans and developer contributions

Local Transport Plan


The fourth LTP (LTP4) for Brighton & Hove was adopted in 2015. It sets out the priorities, programmes and projects that need to be progressed in the future to help people move around the city more safely, sustainably, and easily. LTP4 identifies 3 main ways the council will help keep the city moving:

  • Maintaining and renewing the transport network and its infrastructure to increase resilience
  • Managing movement on the transport network, changing travel behaviour and informing people’s travel choices in dynamic ways to increase efficiency and sustainability
  • Improving sustainable and accessible transport infrastructure, connections, information and options to link people with places and communities, and provide a safer and more attractive environment


The council is currently developing its fifth Local Transport Plan (LTP5) which will build on the success of the current LTP. Members of the council’s ETS committee agreed five outcomes and key principles in June 2021. The measures contained in this BSIP will be important in helping to achieve these and, in particular, the principle to encourage greater use of public transport for longer journeys.   


At the time of writing, the LTP priority areas and proposed interventions are subject to the outcome of a consultation in autumn 2021.


Going forward, the DfT requires the BSIP to be reflected in the LTP and this will be addressed in the production of LTP5.

Bus Network Review


The council commissioned a Bus Network Review in 2018.

The purpose of the study was to identify locations where buses are frequently delayed and to suggest potential improvements. Since the review was published, there have been a number of changes to the network locally, as well as the new government policy on buses and active travel referenced above.

Other recommendations have already been implemented such as:

  • traffic management to reduce delays at Brighton Station
  • junction improvements at Ditchling Road/Viaduct Road and Old Shoreham Road / Sackville Road)

Others (Dyke Road/Clock Tower junction) are in development and due to start construction shortly.

The Bus Network Review is therefore being updated and will provide further detail for developing proposed Enhanced Partnership schemes.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)


The LCWIP is currently in development and will set out a proposed cycling and walking network for the city and provide a long-term plan for delivering this. A public consultation on the plan is taking place in autumn 2021.


The DfT’s active travel guidance and National Bus Strategy (DfT, 2021, page 40) requires walking and cycling to be considered in all schemes and for BSIPs to be reflected in LCWIPs. The bus strategy also seeks the introduction of additional bus priority to be introduced “where there is a frequent bus service, congestion and physical space to install one” (DfT, 2021, page 46). The LCWIP and BSIP will therefore seek to progress schemes with multi-modal benefits where this is possible, for example, with the proposed bus priority corridors outlined in Section 6.


Space constraints will mean in some locations that dedicated infrastructure is not possible, while allowing buses to use cycle lanes will not always be compliant with new national design guidance (see paragraphs 3.6-3.7). In cases where it is not possible to provided dedicated space for buses, or the alternative of introducing point-closures for other traffic is not feasible, mitigation and other bus priority measures will be considered as part of scheme development.


All routes included in the LCWIP and BSIP would be subject to design development and public consultation as they come forward. Timescales would be subject to funding.

Air Quality Management Plan


The city has 6 Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) as follows:

  • AQMA1: City centre
  • AQMA2: Rottingdean High Street
  • AQMA3: South west Portslade
  • AQMA4: Junction of Sackville Road and Old Shoreham Road
  • AQMA5: South Street and A23 north of Preston Park
  • AQMA6: Eastern Road at the Royal Sussex County Hospital


Further details of these are available in the council’s 2020 Air Quality Assessment. All are on bus routes and many have already benefited from the introduction of hybrid vehicles able to run on electric power for a limited range following investment by Brighton & Hove Buses. Some also benefit from zero emissions buses running on council supported routes by The Big Lemon.


The city centre Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has required operators to invest in progressively cleaner vehicles, with vehicles currently needing to be Euro V standard as a minimum, with this increasing to Euro VI by 2023.

The limited range electric buses run with zero emissions in the city centre but also generate less emissions than conventional diesel vehicles elsewhere. These represent a stepping stone to zero emissions vehicles but there is still work to do and measures contained within this BSIP to progress towards fully zero emissions vehicles will complement the council’s priorities for improving air quality in the AQMAs and city more broadly.

Home to School Transport Policy


The council has a statutory duty to provide free transport to school where children live more than 2 miles (if under 8) or 3 miles (if over 8) from their nearest suitable school. Additional help may be provided for children from low income households or for those with disabilities, subject to specific requirements. Further details are provided in the council’s Home to School Transport Policy.


The council funds several school bus services; however, these do not provide free travel unless children meet the criteria above. Brighton & Hove Buses also operate a number of school bus services commercially. It is not the purpose of this BSIP to provide a comprehensive review of school bus services. However, these are considered in the context of proposals for supported bus services in Section 6.

4. Current situation


This section provides an overview of current bus services in the city. Section 6 provides further detail of the current status against the BSIP outcomes and sets out actions against each of these.

Current bus operations and accessibility


The city is generally well served by the commercial bus network with services along all main corridors as shown in Appendix C.

Table 4.1 provides a summary of services, together with daytime and evening frequencies. The colour coding indicates where improvements could be made in order to bring services in line with what would be expected by the National Bus Strategy. This includes the supported bus network and some longer distance routes, such as those to mid Sussex.

Table 4.1

For the full Table 4.1 analysis of services, download the attached PDF document. Alternatively, current information on services is available on bus operator websites:


Prior to the pandemic, most services were run commercially with the majority of these operated by Brighton & Hove Buses. Additional long-distance services are operated by Stagecoach and Metrobus. The council provides financial support for bus routes to communities not served by the commercial network, including parts of:

  • Saltdean
  • Ovingdean
  • East Brighton
  • Hangleton
  • Portslade
  • South Downs National Park


Analysis (GIS analysis undertaken by Jacobs using TRACC accessibility software) indicates that the majority of households (91%) are within 400m of a bus stop with a weekday daytime frequency of 15 minutes or more. This increases to 97% of households for an hourly service, although this is less on weekends. The areas which don’t benefit from the higher frequency services tend to be those served by the supported bus network, again highlighting these as a focus for improvement.


In addition to the local bus services listed, long distance coach services are operated by National Express. These are not covered by this BSIP, although coaches will also benefit from the bus priority measures proposed. Community transport services are also run by Brighton & Hove Community Transport. These are again not within the remit of the BSIP but have an important role in providing transport to residents who are unable to access either commercial services or those supported by the council.

Partnership working


All operators come together in the Quality Bus Partnership, alongside the council and Buswatch, the local branch of Bus Users UK representing local bus users. The partnership is a voluntary arrangement and meets quarterly. It was originally formed in 1997 with the main operator, Brighton & Hove Buses, and relaunched in 2015 to include all operators. Regular meetings also take place between the council and operators of supported bus services whilst a network operational meeting is held monthly between the council and Brighton & Hove Buses.


Buswatch also have strong dialogue with operators outside of these meetings and produce regular newsletters. Suggestions from bus users through these forums have resulted in a number of improvements for the city’s bus users.

These have included:

  • proposal for a one hour single mobile ticket
  • suggestions for timetable improvements, including new all day limited stop services (12X to Eastbourne and 25X to University of Sussex)


The council and operators have a proven track record of working in partnership to deliver improvements to bus services in Brighton & Hove which have included the following, although there remains more to be done as outlined in this BSIP (see Section 6).

  • Introduction of bus priority measures on key corridors including the A259, A23 and Lewes Road, and bus lane enforcement
  • Shared initiatives on greening fleets, including joint bids and projects for the retro-fitting of diesel engines and shaping the ULEZ
  • Use of roadworks permit scheme with bus operator consultation to minimise disruption to the network
  • Bus operators are key stakeholders in all development affecting transport, and have a strong relationship with the council’s parking enforcement contractor to help keep bus routes flowing
  • Joint marketing and promotion initiatives for the health and wellbeing benefits of sustainable active travel choices
  • Strong partnership with Police and Racial Harassment Forum, many disabled people's groups and LGBTQ+ groups to listen to and promote service for minority customer and community groups, helping to make the city's public transport inclusive and accessible

Council financial support for bus services


The council provides financial support to a number of bus services, as listed in Table 4.2. These include services to the South Downs National Park, communities not served by the commercial bus network and school buses.


Before the pandemic, the council provided approximately £1.23 million per annum in funding for supported bus services, of which £308,000 is for school services. Since then, it has been providing additional payments to operators to ensure services can continue to run despite the reduced demand. This has been funded through the Covid Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG) provided by the DfT.

The council has committed to providing additional support where it is necessary until September 2022. This will be funded through the Bus Recovery Grant, following the end of CBSSG funding in September 2021.


In addition, the council funds payments for passengers travelling for free on all bus services in the city under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) for disabled and older people, at a cost of approximately £10.8 million per year. Nationally, the scheme allows travel between 9:30am and 11pm but in Brighton & Hove these hours are extended from 9am to 4am.

In order to support the bus industry during the pandemic, the DfT has encouraged local authorities to maintain payments at pre-Covid levels rather than pay for actual use. The council has responded to this request and is continuing to make payments at pre-Covid levels until further notice.

Table 4.2: Supported bus services



Funding source

Approximate supported mileage (km)

Brighton & Hove City Council supported



Hangleton to Portslade Health Centre

Brighton & Hove City Council



Whitehawk to Goldstone Valley

Section within Goldstone Valley funded by Brighton & Hove City Council



Meadowview to Bristol Estate via city centre and, Hanover and Queens Park

Brighton & Hove City Council



Saltdean to Benfield Valley

Brighton & Hove City Council, with ESCC funding section of route outside city boundary



Patcham to Woodingdean via Ovingdean

Brighton & Hove City Council



Saltdean to Brighton Station

Brighton & Hove City Council, with ESCC funding section of route outside city boundary



Palace Pier to Devil’s Dyke

Weekend and daytime commercial during summer, Brighton & Hove City Council fund summer evening service and weekend daytime for the rest of the year (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic included contribution from National Trust)



Brighton Station to Stanmer Village

Brighton & Hove City Council



Brighton Station to Ditchling Beacon

Brighton & Hove City Council


72, 74, 75, 76, 76A, 91, 96, 95A

School buses

Brighton & Hove City Council (additional services operate commercially)


Total Brighton & Hove City Council supported


Other Supported



Brighton to Crawley via Haywards Heath

Brighton & Hove City Council part-fund Sunday service with University Hospitals Sussex NHS. NHS also provide support on other days



Brighton to Crawley via Haywards Heath and Three Bridges

Part supported by NHS on weekdays



The council has a small marketing budget (currently £8,000) for the promotion of these services. Most of this is spent on the Breeze up to the Downs routes, alongside funding from Brighton & Hove Buses and work with partners to encourage sustainable travel to the South Downs National Park.


The council also employs a public transport team, comprising of a Senior Project Manager, two full time equivalent Public Transport Officers, one Project Support Officer, one full time equivalent administrator role and one apprentice. The Senior Project Manager has responsibility for managing the team and overseeing the management of contracts for supported bus services and bus shelters. The public transport officers and support officer are responsible for customer engagement, monitoring of service standards and delivery of some projects, including bus stop and bus priority schemes. The team also provide an interface between the council and rail operators.

Bus patronage in Brighton & Hove


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Brighton & Hove had experienced considerable growth in bus use over a number of years as shown in Figure 4.1. This resulted in the city having the highest bus use outside of London with 172 bus trips per head in 2018 to 2019. This compares to a combined figure of 39 for local authority areas in the South East, 247 for London and 77 for England as a whole.


However, as Figure 4.1 shows, passenger numbers dropped significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (Passenger numbers based on data supplied by operators. Figures for 2020 to 2021 are provisional). Whilst the 2020 to 2021 figures will be explained largely by restrictions on travel, patronage at the time of writing had only returned to around 60% of pre-Covid levels, despite the easing of most restrictions.


Patronage data by route is commercially confidential so is not available publicly; however, should the DfT require this, it can be provided on request.


Time will be needed to assess the long-term impact on travel patterns and mode choices; however, the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan highlights the apparent discrepancy with car journeys which appear to have returned at a quicker rate. It emphasises the need for immediate action to encourage residents and visitors back on to buses:

“To avoid the worst effects of a car-led recovery, we need to not only shift those additional journeys back quickly, but by making radical improvements to local public transport as normal life returns we can encourage even more people to complete even more of their journeys by public transport.”

Decarbonising Transport: A better, greener Britain (DfT, 2021, page 64)


There were also challenges evident before the pandemic, with increasing journey times for buses. Although there was an annual increase in bus passengers in 2018/19, the last full year before the pandemic, there is a need avoid a negative impact on passenger numbers as a result of worsening journey times. The impact of this can be seen in London which has experienced a number of years of decline, despite fare freezes for part of this period. The measures in this BSIP include additional bus priority measures to help address this.

Figure 4.1: Growth in bus use in Brighton & Hove and impact of the pandemic

Year Passenger journeys (million)
2011 to 2012 43.0
2012 to 2013 44.8
2013 to 2014 46.4
2014 to 2015 46.1
2015 to 2016 45.6
2016 to 2017 47.1
2017 to 2018 45.7
2018 to 2019 47.0
2019 to 2020 45.9
2020 to 2021 15.2

Mode share


The latest available city-wide mode share data is from 2011 Census travel to work data. 14% of people used the bus as their main mode of travel to work, compared to 41% who travelled by car. As shown in the previous section, bus use did increase since 2011; however, the level of difference between people driving and getting the bus to work in 2011 highlights the significant potential to increase bus use further. This is particularly relevant in the context of the  pandemic with indications being that car traffic has returned at a quicker rate than public transport use as noted above.

Bus priority


The council has installed bus lanes or bus gates on a number of major routes including A23, A259 and Lewes Road. The total length of road restricted to buses is approximately 14km. There remain a number of locations in congested areas which could benefit from additional bus priority measures where space is available.

Bus journey times and reliability


The majority of services now take longer to complete their route than they did in 2015 based on the time allowed for in timetables.

This indicates:

  • on average, approximately 7% more time was allowed for a bus to complete its route between 2015 and 2019
  • in the AM peak, 86% of regular services had more time built into timetables in at least one direction, with 72% taking 5% or more longer than they did previously
  • in the PM peak, all regular services had more time built into timetables in at least one direction, with increases of at least 5%


Reliability has also varied. Punctuality figures for Brighton & Hove Buses, representing most bus services in the city, reduced from 85.5% between April 2014 and March 2015 to 80.4% for 2019 to 2020.


In 2020 to 2021, which includes the COVID-19 lockdowns, the figure improved to 87.6%. This demonstrates the potential for improved performance where buses are not inhibited by traffic congestion, although delay at bus stops is also a factor.


A report undertaken by Professor David Begg on behalf of the bus industry in 2016 highlighted the impact congestion can have on bus journey times and reliability, making them less attractive and resulting in reduced passenger numbers. It also noted that congestion can increase costs for bus operators with more buses being required to run the same service with this cost being passed on to passengers. This in turn risks contributing to a further fall in passenger numbers.


The report cites Brighton & Hove as an area where increasing bus journey times poses a risk to the future of services. Although its predictions in terms of declining bus patronage did not materialise before the pandemic, lower bus speeds are likely to constrain the recovery and growth beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Fares and ticketing


A consequence of most commercial routes being operated by Brighton & Hove Buses is that ticketing is consistent across the majority of services. Supported bus service operators also accept the same tickets and charge the same fares as Brighton & Hove Buses, with the latter managing a multi-operator smartcard and mobile phone system. However, whilst all operators accept contactless payments, the system does not currently allow multi-operator payment and commercial services operated by Stagecoach have a different fare structure.


Comparing fares between different operators and areas can be complex because of the different offers and time periods for which tickets are available. Analysis completed by Brighton & Hove Buswatch shows that the single adult fare for London (£1.55) is between 35 pence and £1.15 lower than in Brighton & Hove (£1.90 to £2.70) depending on operator and payment method. However, annual tickets in Brighton & Hove are £207 lower than in London for Brighton & Hove Buses’ services and £348 lower if using Stagecoach services only.

(Buswatch research correct as of August 2021. It has been a requirement of CBSSG funding that fares remain frozen at pre-Covid levels and there has been no increase in Brighton & Hove since January 2020)


It should also be noted that bus services in London receive a significant subsidy from Transport for London and single fares for similar areas are more comparable such as:

  • Oxford (£1.20 to £2.30)
  • Portsmouth (£2)
  • Reading (£2 - £2.50)
  • Southampton (£2)[1] are more comparable

(Checked August 2021).


Available data does not allow the cost of bus travel per km to be calculated. However, the National Travel Survey provides data on average bus trip lengths in England. This is 3.7 miles in London or 5.1 miles outside London. If using the London figure (as it is an urban area and more comparable than the England average), this indicates the average cost would be around 22 pence per km based on average fares charged in Brighton & Hove, excluding concessions

This is based on National Travel Survey data for 2019 and the average fare from Brighton & Hove Buses (which applies to the majority of services, including those operated by Compass and The Big Lemon)


There are a large number of tickets and offers available, including those aimed at certain groups and discounts for certain payment methods. Operators have also run time-limited offers in the past, such as free accompanied travel for young people in December.


Ticket offers from Brighton & Hove Buses are summarised below.

Get full details from the Brighton & Hove Buses website.

Adult SAVER: 

Day tickets

These tickets can be bought on-bus, or on a smartphone as an M-ticket.


These tickets offer unlimited travel anywhere on all Brighton & Hove Buses’ services.


These tickets offer unlimited travel within the city and as far west as Shoreham.

Longer period tickets can also be bought:

  • online (loaded onto Brighton & Hove Buses’ ‘key’ smartcard)
  • as M-Tickets on a smartphone,
  • from travel shops. Some newsagents also sell ‘scratch-off’ versions of the one day and 7 day SAVER.  

SAVER tickets

These tickets are available for periods of up to one year. The one year SAVER ticket offers unlimited travel for £2 per day or less, and a further 20% discount is available to anyone buying the ticket via Wave Community Bank (formerly East Sussex credit union). This offers affordable loans to spread the cost over 12 monthly payments

Family versions of the Day SAVER

Up to two adults and three children, cost £9 as M-tickets or £10 if bought from the bus driver.


This is a free to obtain smartcard which offers children and young people, up to age 18, reduced prices on bus fares (from 50p) and the range of SAVER tickets. A further 10% discount on the one year ticket is available through Wave Community Bank.

There is also a Sibling SAVER, offering discounts on the 90 day and one year tickets when buying for more than one child.

A range of discounted SAVER tickets for Students and Apprentices of over 25% with free travel to some through a hardship fund.

Community Deals

These include:

  • free travel for people seeking employment via the Community Works ‘Routes’ project
  • 4WorkSAVER offers 4 weeks free travel for the first 4 weeks in employment, via employers who have signed up to the scheme (also offered to their existing employees when changing workplace location)
  • discounted bus fares for unpaid carers who hold a Brighton & Hove Carer’s Card (or Young Carer’s Card), or a Compass Card
  • discounted bus travel for linking to train journeys with the Southern SAVER, Thameslink SAVER and PlusBUS or keyGo.



Metrobus also part of Go-Ahead, offer the Metrovoyager, which gives unlimited travel on Metrobus and Brighton & Hove Buses services and is available for periods from one day to one year. Free patient travel is available to people attending appointments at Princess Royal Hospital (funded by University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust) and there is free or discounted travel for the Trust’s staff and medical students.



Stagecoach offers includes the following, although these are not transferable to different operators.

  • Brighton DayRider: Unlimited travel on Stagecoach services between Shoreham, Brighton and Patcham. Can be brought on the bus or as an M-ticket on a smartphone.
  • Brighton Megarider: Unlimited travel on Stagecoach services between Shoreham, Brighton and Patcham.  Available online (to load onto a Stagecoach smartcard) for periods from 28 days up to one year. There is also a 7 day ticket, which can be bought on the bus or as an M-ticket on a smartphone
  • Megarider Gold: Unlimited travel on Stagecoach services in the city plus West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.  Available online (to load onto a Stagecoach smartcard) for periods from 28 days up to one year. There is also a 7 day ticket, which can be bought on the bus or as an M-ticket on a smartphone.
  • Gold DayRider:  Unlimited travel on Stagecoach services in the city plus West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. Can be bought on the bus or as an M-ticket on a smartphone.
  • Gold NightRider:  Unlimited travel on Stagecoach services in the city plus West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. Available after 7pm and up to 4am (supplement payable if using the N700). Can be bought on the bus or as an M-ticket on a smartphone.



Discovery is a one day ticket, intended for longer journeys where passengers might need to travel on services run by more than one operator.  It is the only ticket to offer unlimited travel on all bus companies’ services throughout the city but also throughout East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey and parts of east Hampshire. It is available to buy on the bus only with adult, child and family versions. 


The individual offers are likely to be important to those who use them and consideration would need to be given to the impact of withdrawing these. However, there is an opportunity to use technology to simplify and automise the fare selection process to ensure passengers are always getting the best value fare for them, for example, when using contactless payment.


There has been a move to cashless payment with a low proportion of transactions now undertaken by cash. Brighton & Hove Buses are planning to go cashless in order to reduce dwell times at bus stops. However, this will be accessible to everyone and people without a bank account or mobile phone will be able to use a card that can be topped up using cash in shops.

Bus fleet in Brighton & Hove


Table 4.4 summarises the size of bus operator fleets at the time of writing, together with the vehicle type and engine type where appropriate. Paragraph 3.25 provides further detail on the Air Quality Management Plan and recent progress in upgrading fleets to cleaner vehicles.


During the pandemic, all operators have introduced measures to ensure buses are safe which has included enhanced cleaning regimes, anti-virus air filters and wedging open windows. These measures are continuing in accordance with public health advice but also to provide current and potential passengers with reassurance.

Table 4.4: Current buses operating in Brighton & Hove

Based on data provided by operators. Where vehicles have received conversions, they are categorised according to their current classification.


Operator Zero emissions Diesel Total

Euro 6 with zero emissions for limited range

Euro 6 hybrid

Euro 6

Euro 5

Euro 4

Euro 3

Brighton & Hove Buses   54 100 111     265
Compass Bus     4       4
Metrobus     10   29 1 40
Stagecoach     30 4     34
The Big Lemon 9     5     14
Total 9 54 144 120 29 1 357

The Big Lemon - operator plans to have a fully electric fleet by the end of the 2021; however, routes operated for Brighton & Hove City Council are currently subject to retender.

Complementary measures: parking and enforcement


Over a number of years, the council has introduced on-street parking controls across much of the city. This helps to generate more sustainable travel, including on buses, through encouraging lower car ownership. The management of parking in areas with high parking pressure and inconsiderate parking also helps reduce bus delays through these areas.


The council also has a policy of encouraging visitors to travel into the city centre by sustainable modes where possible and this is reflected in parking charges. There are a number of non-council car parks; however, these generally charge at a similar level to council car parks. The exception is free parking available at out-of-town retail sites, Brighton Marina and some public parks.


The council’s parking enforcement contractor employ a team of Civil Enforcement Officers and the council also has a network of cameras monitoring the city’s bus lanes. In total, the council spent approximately £8.5 million on enforcement in 2019 to 2020 and further details, including the number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued and a breakdown of spending is provided in the council’s Parking Annual Report.

Passenger satisfaction and stakeholder feedback


The DfT does not expect a public consultation to be undertaken to inform the BSIP but does request that local transport user groups, MPs, representatives of disabled people and business groups are engaged and responses included (DfT, 2021, page 48). The council has invited comment from various stakeholders to inform the BSIP proposals with further details provided below. Feedback is also available from local responses to the National Highways & Transport (NHT) survey and a survey of users of supported bus services conducted on behalf of the council.

NHT survey


The council participates in the NHT public satisfaction survey each year. This is undertaken by Ipsos MORI and the University of Leeds Institute of Transport Studies for the NHT Network of authorities.


The most recent survey was undertaken in June 2020 and covered 109 authorities. 6,000 residents in the city were invited to take part with 1,466 participating (This response rate of 24.4% was in line with the national average of 23.8%). The survey asks a range of questions on different aspects of highways and transport in the city, including buses. Table 4.5 provides a summary of the responses relevant to the development of this BSIP. Public satisfaction is expressed as a percentage out of 100.

Table 4.5: NHT survey – bus results (2020)

Indicator Brighton & Hove NHT rank NHT average Gap from average
Bus services
Local bus services (overall) 74% 3 60% 14%

Frequency of bus services

78% 2 60% 18%
Reliability of buses (whether they arrive on time) 67% 4 57% 11%
Bus fares 41% 108 50% -9%
Quality and cleanliness of buses 69% 11 63% 6%
Helpfulness of drivers 73% 13 68% 5%

Personal safety on buses

72% 12 68% 4%


Indicator Brighton & Hove NHT rank NHT average Gap from average
Public transport information (overall) 64% 2 44% 20%

The clarity of information

67% 2 58% 9%
The accuracy of information 65% 4 58% 7%
Ease of finding the right information 63% 2 55% 8%
Information about accessible buses 60% 3 53% 7%
Information to help people plan journeys 65% 6 59% 6%

Reliability of electronic display information

66% 3 52% 14%
Provision of public transport information 67% 2 56% 11%


Indicator Brighton & Hove NHT rank NHT average Gap from average
Bus stops
Number of bus stops 83% 2 70% 13%

The state of bus stops

70% 3 60% 10%
How easy buses are to get on and off 81% 2 73% 8%
Raised kerbs at bus stops 72% 7 66% 6%
Personal safety at bus stops 68% 15 63% 5%


The results show Brighton & Hove performs well in comparison to other areas across the majority of criteria and is in the top three for overall satisfaction with local bus services and information. It is possible that changes to people’s travel patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic will have affected responses; however, overall satisfaction was largely consistent with 2019, improving by one percentage point and remaining well above the national average.


The one area where Brighton & Hove performs less well compared to other areas is on fares which are perceived to be high by survey respondents.

Supported bus services survey


A survey of users of supported bus services was completed in March 2020, with 277 interviews taking place across the ten supported bus services. The results indicated that the services are important to those who use them and, across all of the services, 68% of passengers asked said they would not have an alternative means of making their journey if the bus service did not exist.

Engagement completed for this BSIP


BSIPs are required to seek stakeholders’ views on the merits and demerits of bus services locally, as well as feedback on the performance of operators and the LTA (in this case the council).


Buswatch have been involved in the development of the BSIP from the outset with engagement taking place through meetings and an opportunity provided to comment on draft documents by email.


Other groups were invited to comment by email with a list of organisations contacted provided in Appendix C. Some then chose to distribute more widely amongst their networks. They were provided with an introduction to the National Bus Strategy and BSIP, together with a summary of the council’s role in relation to bus services, and invited to answer the following questions:

  • Please provide your views on current bus services in the city:
    • What are the positives?
    • What would you like to see improved?
  • How do you feel local bus operators perform?
  • How do you feel the council performs in respect of bus services?


A written update was also provided to the city’s Transport Partnership and a presentation given to the city’s Active Travel Forum. Further engagement will take place as schemes come forward, including public consultation where appropriate.


In total, 28 responses were received which can be broken down as follows:

  • Six from residents and/or organisation not specified  
  • Five from politicians (one MP and four councillors)
  • Five from community representatives
  • Three from organisations representing transport users
  • Two from organisations representing people with disabilities
  • Two from service providers
  • Two from other public bodies
  • One from an organisation representing older people
  • One from a business
  • One from an education provider


A summary of the responses received is provided in Table 4.6. This indicates the number of times a theme was raised, meaning a single response providing three separate comments will appear three times.


Overall, it can be seen that there is a good level of satisfaction with local bus services and this is also likely to be reflected in the relatively low number of responses, for example, from the business community. The most common issues or areas for improvement raised related to the frequency or routing of some services and the cost of fares.

Table 4.6 Summary of comments by theme

Positive comments on bus services

Theme Number of times raised
Good level of bus coverage / frequency 11

General positive comments on coverage

Positive comments on accessibility 7
Support for zero emissions vehicles 5
Modern / comfortable buses 4
Easy to pay / plan journeys 3

Improvements requested

Theme Number of times raised

More frequent services on supported bus routes / later services.

Requests included:

  • more frequent and later services on suburban services (16, 37/37B, 47, 52)
  • weekday services for Breeze up to the Downs services, including Stanmer Park

New / amended routes

Requests included:

  • fewer services to go through the city centre with direct connections between outer areas
  • better coverage for the seafront and Old Shoreham Road
Concern about affordability / high cost 6
More frequent service on specified commercial route(s)

Requests included for routes:

  • 24 (Coldean)
  • 50 (Hollingdean)
  • 14 (Newhaven)
  • 21/21a (Goldstone Valley)
  • routes to mid Sussex
Need zero emission / less polluting vehicles 5
Improve real time information, app coverage. Consider other means of providing real time in outlying areas / screens at destinations 4
Requests for bus stop improvements 4

Going further on accessibility:

  • driver training
  • engagement from all operators
  • automatic ramps on buses
  • bigger timetables
Space for bikes / different types of bikes on more routes to the Downs 4

Run a campaign targeting car dependency / price comparison


Faster services / limited stop 

Requests for services to:

  • Woodingdean
  • west of the city (Hangleton, Portslade and Mile Oak).
Make ticketing options clearer / consistency of information between operators 2
Need to ensure council gets value for money on supported bus services 1
Need to undertake a stronger review of routes 1
Need to review school buses to address issues for disadvantaged pupils 1

Need cleaner buses (on-board)

Smoother bus journeys (less bumpy) 1
Request for a concession for carers 1
Request for flexible season ticket 1
Publicise / make more of other routes to the South Downs 1
Request to reinstate printed bus times magazine / need to consider those without access to internet 1

Comments on operator performance

Theme Number of times raised
General positive comments on service provided 10

Concern about operator profit levels

Helpful / polite drivers 3
Praise for operator openness and responsiveness 2
Request to consider franchising 1

Comments on council performance  

Theme Number of times raised
Good performance 2

Needs to be firmer on reducing car dependency

Be firmer on requesting routes go to underserved areas 2
Request for bus lane extensions / support bus priority 2
Enforce parking at bus stops / on footways 1


Do bus services in Brighton & Hove meet BSIP outcomes?

Brighton & Hove benefits from the coverage and frequency of services which many places do not. As such, the city already performs well against several of the BSIP outcomes. However, there is still great potential to increase bus use in the city and this will be essential if the council is to meet its target of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030. The DfT has also stated that “even in high-performing bus towns, further improvements (for instance to priority and fares) are always necessary” (National Bus Strategy: Bus Service Improvement Plans – Guidance to local authorities and bus operators DfT, 2021, para 51).


In addition, uncertainty around how quickly passengers will return following the pandemic poses a significant threat. Work is therefore needed to make buses more attractive to entice passengers back and encourage new users to try them. This will include a need for additional bus priority to speed up bus journeys and a simplification of ticketing to ensure passengers are always getting the best value fare. There is also a need to improve services to areas not served by the commercial network, including to some of the city’s most deprived communities.


Section 6 lists each of the areas for improvement included in the BSIP guidance and summarises how Brighton & Hove currently performs against each, together with actions that will be required to achieve all of the BSIP outcomes.


5. Targets


This section sets targets for improvements to bus services and how they will be monitored.


Although the targets have been agreed with operators in principle and indicate aspirations for buses in the city, these are subject to change through the establishment of the Enhanced Partnership.


The general themes around journey times, reliability, passenger growth and customer satisfaction reflect guidance from the DfT. Guidance on setting targets produced by Transport Focus has also been considered.

Journey times


The ultimate aspiration is for bus services to be faster than travelling by car when taking account of the time taken to queue and park.

Targets for journey times are:

  • by 2025, for the average time for a bus to have completed its route to have reduced by 5% from 2018 to 2019
  • by 2030, for the average time for a bus to have completed its route to have reduced by 10% from 2018 to 2019


The baseline for measuring the target will be the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic. A pre-pandemic figure has been used as the baseline as this reflects more typical traffic conditions and bus use. Where any routes are changed, they will be excluded from future monitoring.


In addition to the overall average, changes in average peak bus journey times will be reported for the A23 and A259. This is to reflect the bus priority measures contained in this BSIP.


These targets will be monitored every six months based on data provided by operators.



Targets for reliability are:

  • by 2025, ‘on time’ performance for services operating within the city to have increased to 85%
  • 2030, ‘on time’ performance for services operating within the city to have increased to 90%


The target increase is based on 2018 to 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, when 80% of services ran on time (see paragraph 4.22). A pre-pandemic figure has been used as the baseline as this reflects more typical traffic conditions and bus use.


These targets will be monitored every six months based on data provided by operators.

Passenger growth


Targets for passenger growth are subject to the further development of LTP5. This will set targets for each mode of transport to achieve the council’s aim of a carbon neutral city by 2030. The following targets will be updated accordingly in the next version of the BSIP.

  • By 2023 to 2024, the aim is for bus passengers to have returned to at least pre-Covid levels - because of expected reduced demand as a result of permanent changes to travel habits, such as people working from home more often, this is likely to require other journeys to be transferred on to bus
  • By 2024 to 2025, the target is for bus passengers to increase by 5% on the 2018 to 2019 baseline
  • By 2030, the target is for bus passengers to have increased 15% on the 2018 to 2019 baseline. This is equivalent to approximately 7 million more passenger trips


The targets set for passenger numbers exceed the level of growth achieved between 2011 to 2012 and 2018 to 2019 (c.10%). However, the previous increase achieved indicates that the target is achievable, subject to the extent of measures which can be delivered through this BSIP and future demand following the pandemic.


This target will be monitored every six months based on data provided by operators and collated by Brighton & Hove City Council.

Customer satisfaction


Customer satisfaction levels are already high in many areas; however, it is important to maintain these and, where possible, increase them.

As summarised in Section 4, the council has taken part in the National Highways and Transport (NHT) satisfaction survey for many years. As this includes measures of satisfaction with bus services and is already funded, it is proposed to continue to use this measure going forward. However, this survey only takes place once a year with results usually available in October.

Therefore, it is proposed that this target be monitored annually as opposed to every six months as is the case with the other targets. Alternative and more frequent survey methods will be undertaken if requested by the DfT with operator Transport Focus surveys used as a baseline instead.


The targets for customer satisfaction reflect that there is relatively good satisfaction with local bus services, both overall and across individual indicators, but that residents appear to be least satisfied with bus fares.

The targets are:

  • by 2025, the NHT overall satisfaction score for local bus services will have increased to no less than 80%. This compares to 73% in 2018 to 2019 and 74% in 2019 to 2020
  • by 2025, the NHT survey score for satisfaction with bus fares will have increased from 41% to 60%

Monitoring progress against BSIP actions


As noted above, the DfT require targets to cover journey times, journey reliability, passenger numbers and passenger satisfaction. The majority of the actions identified later in this BSIP (see Section 6) are designed to feed into and help achieve these targets. For example, actions around fares and ticketing respond to the targets to improve customer satisfaction.


Some actions, such as to deliver zero emissions vehicles, do not relate in full to one of these main target areas. However, progress against all actions will be monitored and reported against alongside the high-level target, which will be provided every six months as required by the DfT. Further details on how the targets and progress will be reported are provided in Section 7.

6. Delivery


The following pages list each of the requirements in the BSIP guidance, under each of the main themes included in the National Bus Strategy such as improved service frequencies, journey times and ticketing. It then summarises current progress against each in Brighton & Hove and sets out actions for meeting the strategy’s requirements. A summary of actions and how they respond to the BSIP targets is provided in Appendix E.


Many of the actions listed will be subject to the funding which the DfT has indicated will be awarded partly on the basis of the ambition of BSIPs. However, the approach taken with most BSIP actions is that they should ideally be self-sustaining going forward, with the initial investment having helped to grow passenger numbers. All would be subject to a trial period and could therefore be withdrawn were funding to be reduced or they fail to become self-sustaining.


It is not a requirement for BSIPs to be fully costed at this stage; however, supplementary guidance (Bus Service Improvement Plans: Presentation of funding requirements - DfT, 25 August 2021) requires the submission of a funding and prioritisation template. This is submitted alongside this BSIP. All costs are approximate and may change as schemes are developed further.

The measures with the highest priority are:

  1. a package of measures to simplify and reduce fares
  2. a package of measures to provide more bus priority and speed up buses
  3. providing fully zero emissions bus fleets by 2030
  4. enhancing socially and economically necessary bus services


Any grant funding provided by the DfT would be additional to the council’s existing budgets for bus infrastructure improvements and supported services. It would also be complemented by operators investing in vehicles and using their marketing budgets to support BSIP outcomes.


The actions outlined would be complemented by the council’s wider transport policies that will be contained within LTP5. The council has also committed to developing options for a liveable city centre, which would reduce the amount of general traffic accessing the centre of the city, and an expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

BSIP Delivery Plan

The following sections explain all of the themes in the BSIP Delivery Plan.

Theme 1: Frequent services

Bus Back Better Theme 1: Services to be “more frequent, with turn-up-and-go services on major routes and feeder or demand-responsive services to lower-density places".

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Frequent services on key radial routes – daytime frequencies of every few minutes so passengers do not need to rely on a timetable

Mostly achieved.

All the main strategic corridors into the city centre have frequent services.

Some routes such as supported services have lower frequencies; however, these are not on the main corridors.

Services on routes between neighbouring areas are well provided for towns to the east and west but could be improved on routes to the north. This includes to urban areas not directly connected to Brighton & Hove by the rail network, such as Henfield and Horsham. There is also an opportunity for buses to connect with trains at Three Bridges to provide a 24 hour link to London.



Brighton & Hove Buses and Stagecoach to commit to maintaining the equivalent of current daytime and evening service levels on commercial routes, whilst allowing scope for adjustments in response to changing customer requirements and unforeseen circumstances.


The council will work with operators and neighbouring authorities to explore how services to areas to the north of Brighton & Hove can be enhanced. This includes an aspiration for more frequent services and a Sunday service on route 17 to Horsham and minimum hourly services and a Sunday service on links between Crawley and Mid Sussex via routes 270, 271, 272, 273 (combining to provide a more frequent service to Brighton).


Brighton & Hove Buses will review current 23 and 14C services in order to provide a more frequent direct services from the east of the city to Falmer and the universities. This will be complemented by enhancements to the services on the East Sussex side of the border and included in ESCC’s BSIP.

It is intended that these actions will be complemented with enhanced frequencies on supported bus routes (see Action 1.7).

There is also a desire to provide more limited stop or express services (see Action 2.7).

Further considerations

The other measures in this BSIP will be important in supporting the return of passengers following the pandemic. However, in the medium term, maintaining these frequencies is likely to be subject to continued government support.

Were government support to be withdrawn, operators are committed to working with partners to establish how this can best be managed without further impacting on bus use.

Enhancements to longer distance routes will be complemented by ESCC’s proposals to provide upgraded mobility hubs at key points in the bus network such as Newhaven, Seaford, Uckfield and Crowborough. This will improve access to onward services to Brighton.

Any enhancement to services will be subject to government funding.

Frequent services on key radial routes – evening services of every 15 minutes

Mostly achieved.

Most radial routes have frequent evening services (see Section 4, Table 4.1).


As per Action 1.1, Brighton & Hove Buses and Stagecoach are committed to retaining the equivalent of current daytime and evening frequencies.

Further considerations

As above, retaining existing frequencies will be dependent on the return of passengers and is likely to require continued government support in the medium term.

Consider the need for network redesign – are high-frequency feeder services needed?

Feeder services are not currently provided in Brighton & Hove; however, the size of the city means this is not typically necessary.


Although no proposal for a feeder service is contained in this BSIP, there is a desire to retain and enhance services to underserved communities, including those experiencing deprivation. This is addressed by Actions 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7.

Further considerations

Feeder services have been requested for East Brighton; however, it is unlikely these would be commercially viable, even were additional funding available to support them in the first instance. This would mean they would require additional long-term funding from the council once any initial funding associated with the National Bus Strategy ends.

Experience also suggests that where passengers are required to change, they prefer doing this in the city centre where there are frequent connecting services and interchange facilities. For example, this was tried in 2012 with the 52 service requiring passengers to change at the marina for onward travel to the city centre and potentially changing there again to reach other locations in the city.

Agree common route numbering system (avoiding different operators having different routes with the same name)



N/A- existing cooperation to be continued.

All bus operators shown on the same timetable


All operators are displayed at stops and were published in Brighton & Hove Buses’ Bus Times biannual magazine up until the pandemic. Although useful to some passengers, it is unclear whether the magazine is needed in its previous form in the digital age.



Brighton & Hove Buses to develop alternative means of timetable communication were Bus Times magazine not to re-enter publication. All other operators to contribute to this.

Further considerations

Operators in the city have previously been committed to coordinating on timetable changes and publication. This will continue with timetables at stops.

Any replacement of hard copy timetables in other forms will need to consider accessibility by all passengers.

Routes as far as possible the same in the evenings and at weekends as in the daytime


There is currently minimal route variation, although some supported services are altered on Sundays and bank holidays.


See Action 1.7 on supported bus services.

Consideration should be given to simplification of routes – preference for high frequency on major routes rather than many low-frequency services combining. Reduce number of route variations and letter suffixes


The current number of route variations is limited and has been reduced.

LTAs should consider the role of Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) in improving access to bus services in rural areas

Further considerations

Although not directly applicable within the city boundary, improving bus services in less accessible areas surrounding Brighton & Hove will help increase the proportion of people coming into the city by bus and reduce the need to travel by car. The council will therefore welcome initiatives by operators and neighbouring authorities to improve the reliability and frequency of services in these areas.

Review socially and economically necessary services, ensuring access to employment not served by bus routes as well as social and leisure facilities.

Partially achieved.

The council currently supports a number of bus services as summarised in Section 4.

Some stakeholders have expressed a desire to enhance these services, both in terms of frequencies and the routes covered. These services are important in connecting some of the city’s most deprived communities; however, the level of service is not consistent with that provided by those in reach of commercial services. The National Bus Strategy identifies a need to better connect socially and economically disadvantaged residents as part of the government’s levelling-up agenda .

There is also currently a lack of consistency between weekend and weekday services.



The council will maintain current supported bus routes until at least September 2022. See further actions on future of these services)


The council will review the need for future changes to supported bus services as a result of permanent changes in demand on these and other routes.


The council will explore opportunities to increase frequencies on supported bus services.

This may include:

  • more frequent daytime service (minimum half-hourly) on all supported bus routes and enhancements to the partly supported 21 service. The latter will include developing an alternative minibus service for East Brighton
  • running the 37B on Sundays in order to improve frequency and provide a service via Queens Park
  • replacing the 57 (Sunday service between Saltdean – city centre) with a Sunday service on the 47 (Saltdean – Portslade) and 52 (Woodingdean to Patcham) in order to provide a consistent service and ensure all communities are served on Sundays
  • operating the 78 Breeze service to Stanmer village on weekdays

Further considerations

Additional services would be subject to long-term funding as it is unlikely these would be commercially viable, even if initial funding could be used to grow usage. It is therefore necessary to consider the potential long-term need for greater public funding when committing to new services. In addition, when identifying services most in need, the extent to which services overlap with commercial services for part of the route will need to be considered.

Indeed, the existing services currently need greater public support because of a reduction in patronage following the pandemic. These would be at risk were passenger numbers not to return or government support not to continue.

The priorities for supported bus services could also change were patronage not to return to services operated commercially before the pandemic. As future use is unknown at this stage, it is not possible to plan in detail for what the supported bus network may look like in future.

The council has committed to providing additional funding for the current supported bus services until September 2022, with the help of ongoing government support. It is intended this will provide more time for market conditions to settle and a full review to take place.

Coordination of services with other public-sector transport provision: Schools


There are currently a number of school bus services run commercially with others funded by the council. This provision goes beyond the council’s statutory requirements (see Section 3). All school bus services form an integrated part of the wider network, for example, appearing on timetables and journey planners.

Stakeholders have expressed a desire for changes to school services. This includes requests to better serve catchment areas and to assist in helping disadvantaged children.


As per Action 1.5, the council has committed to maintain current supported services until September 2022. This includes school buses.

However, the following additional actions are also applicable to schools:


To review school services funded by the council to consider stakeholder requests and future demand across the network following the pandemic.

Further considerations

School services do not operate in isolation. Funding is able to go further as a result of the current operator, Brighton & Hove Buses, using vehicles and drivers on other, commercially operated, services. Adjusting services to meet requests from individual schools will often necessitate the need for additional vehicles or mean they cannot be operated commercially. This would significantly increase the cost to the council.

A number of school bus services are currently provided commercially to cater for demand across the wider bus network. Where demand has potentially changed permanently, for example, because of changes to working patterns, there may be less need for a dedicated service as there is space for children to travel on other public services.

The review will take place when issues relating to the pandemic are more settled and be undertaken in consultation with operators and schools. The council will also need to consider any future review of school catchment areas, as well as transition arrangements for pupils using current services.

Coordination of services with other public-sector transport provision: Hospitals

Partially achieved.

The Royal Sussex County hospital is well-served by 24 hour commercial routes together with a number of less frequent services to other parts of the city and beyond.

The council partly funds Sunday services on the 271 between the Sussex County Hospital and Princess Royal, Haywards Heath. Support is coordinated with University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and the service forms an integrated part of the wider network; however, there is an opportunity to enhance this route to better provide for both hospital patients, staff and other users of this route, including providing an evening service at weekends.


As covered in Action 1.2, the council and neighbouring authorities are keen to see an enhanced service on routes to the north of Brighton & Hove. The 271 service would be included in this review.

Theme 2: Faster and more reliable services

Bus Back Better Theme 2: Services to be “faster and more reliable, with bus priority wherever necessary and where there is room”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Bus lanes on routes where there is a frequent bus service, congestion and physical space

Partially achieved.

Key bus corridors where there is space such as the A23, A259, Edward Street and Lewes Road already have bus lanes. However, there is scope to extend or improve these in some places.

Improving journey times for buses reduces costs for operators and it is more likely that fares could be reduced as a result.


The council is currently reviewing its Bus Network Review schemes to reflect changes in the city since 2018 and revised government policy on buses and active travel. This will contain specific actions which it is expected will form part of the Enhanced Partnership agreement.


The council will develop schemes in the Bus Network Review as funding becomes available.

The above will include assessing the feasibility of bus priority schemes on the following corridors included in City Plan Policy CP9.


A259 between Brighton Marina and Ovingdean.


A259 between Brighton Palace Pier and Lower Rock Gardens.


A23 between Preston Park and St Peter’s Place.

The council will also work with West Sussex County Council to explore opportunities to enhance the A259 west corridor between Brighton and Shoreham (see also Action 2.11 on Bus Rapid Transit) which, together with the above measures and existing bus priority linking to East Sussex, would provide a high quality bus corridor along the south coast.

Further considerations

All schemes would be subject to further design development, funding and public consultation. The review of the A259 corridor would also take into account work by East Sussex County Council.

As outlined in Section 3, (alignment with other policies) there are other demands on road space and the council will consider the needs of active travel in accordance with government requirements. The corridors identified are expected to have potential for multi-modal solutions which will benefit both buses and active travel. Schemes elsewhere will need to consider whether there is scope for the incorporation of bus priority or whether mitigation for buses is possible. This will be reviewed and updated in the annual update to this BSIP as schemes come forward in the future.

Traffic signal priority on key corridors

Partially achieved.

There is an ongoing upgrade traffic signal upgrade programme across the city, including the installation of MOVA  technology. This manages individual junctions based on the number of vehicles present rather than a pre-determined cycle. This is not a bus priority measure but the incorporation of MOVA can speed up junctions for all vehicles, particularly at junctions where there is more limited demand for certain movements. In addition, there may be scope to introduce bus detection in some locations in order to prioritise certain bus movements and/or allow buses running behind schedule to catch up.


As per Action 2.1, the council will develop schemes included in the Bus Network Review as funding becomes available. In addition:


The council will review whether additional bus detection / bus priority is feasible and will benefit buses as junctions come forward as part of the signal upgrade programme.

Further considerations

The incorporation of bus detection can improve bus journey times; however, where buses approach from multiple arms of the junction, the impact on different routes needs to be assessed. Similarly, the smooth operation of junctions for all traffic may be necessary to avoid congestion elsewhere on the network which could impact on buses. For this reason, it will need to be considered on a site-by-site basis.

Bus stop locations and spacing

Not achieved.

There has been no comprehensive review of bus stops in the city to date.

The placement of stops in the city is typically closer than in many other areas. This brings some advantages in ensuring that services are convenient and accessible. However, there is an opportunity to review some closely spaced stops in order to speed up journey times. Similarly, a review may provide an opportunity to provide additional stops where the distance between them is currently greater than is desirable, without having an impact on bus journey times.



The council will work with operators to review the placement of bus stops. Areas are to be agreed; however, the initial focus will be on specific corridors such as Eastern Road.


Limited-stop services to be investigated from suburban parts of the city in order to speed up services. Locations to be considered will include Mile Oak, Portslade, West Hove and Woodingdean.

Further considerations

The relocation of stops would be subject to funding, detailed site investigations and public consultation.

Any reduction in stop locations will need to carefully consider safety and accessibility by all. The Department for Transport’s Inclusive Mobility guidance states that bus stops should be within 400m walking distance of people’s homes. However, bus use reduces where the distance is more than 200m for disabled users (250m for other users)[2]. Gradient should also be considered and closer placement of stops may be needed on hills.

It is likely that this would be addressed by reviewing all stop locations on a section of a route and replacing these with new stops in optimum locations, rather than removing intermediate stops and retaining others.

In some locations, there is also an opportunity to provide better, more accessible, bus stops overall, albeit with fewer stops. For example, where a change of level between the pavement and road makes the provision of accessible kerbs and shelters difficult and more costly. In removing two stops with steps to the bus, it may be possible to replace them with one stop including a ramp to road level.

Impact of loading and parking provision

Partially achieved.

The council already has in place a parking policy that complements efforts to encourage sustainable travel. In particular, this includes parking charges in the city centre which make the cost of bus travel competitive. Residential Controlled Parking Zones are also in place across much of the city.

However, there are issues with loading and indiscriminate parking in some locations which leads to delays to buses. Footway parking can also hinder passenger access to bus stops and additional enforcement is required.

There is also a need for further complementary measures in order to reduce the number of cars in the city centre and congestion across the city generally.



The council will implement red routes on Lewes Road and London Road, including Valley Gardens. Red routes provide additional restrictions to prevent most vehicles stopping to park or load. Additional locations will be considered in future were the trial to be successful.


The council will continue to support a change in legislation which allows councils in England outside of London to enforce pavement parking.


A member of staff or contractor would be appointed with a dedicated role to manage parking and loading at bus stops and other locations which cause delays to buses.

Further considerations

The implementation of red routes or other changes to parking and loading restrictions will be subject to funding and public consultation.

In relation to key routes and identifying space for bus lanes, the BSIP guidance states that “non-residential parking will not generally be an efficient use of road space on such routes”[3]. In many cases, this is residential parking where there may not be an alternative location but, in others, the removal of some parking may be possible. The loss of parking revenue will need to be considered in the business case for schemes; however, such measures would be compatible with aspirations to reduce traffic in the city centre.

Congestion in the city is a result of current levels of private car use. The council is developing options for a Liveable City centre, which is intended to support an attractive and vibrant city centre by reducing the number of vehicles. Exemptions would need to be in place for disabled people and essential business while access to major car parks would be retained. This wider project has the potential to complement the measures in this BSIP by reducing the number of vehicles travelling into the city centre, and the congestion this creates.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Not achieved.

The council’s City Plan outlines its aspirations for a BRT system on the A259 corridor. This is reflected in the council’s vision document for LTP5 which includes a proposal for Greater Brighton mass transit – an express bus-based system connecting Brighton to Shoreham and Worthing.

The council has allocated a budget of £30,000 for a ‘feasibility study for a seafront sustainable transport corridor’ which would encompass bus.



The council will seek funding for a Strategic Outline Business Case for BRT scheme on the seafront between East and West Sussex and other major corridors (see also Actions 2.2 and 2.3).

Further considerations

BRT would be a long-term transformation scheme and subject to extensive scheme development, working with neighbouring authorities. The BSIP Guidance states “LTAs should include aspirations in this area in their BSIPs, even if they are not yet at SOBC stage, to help generate a better understanding of where such schemes are potentially feasible”.

The council is directly engaged in Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) strategic Outer Orbital and South Central Radial Area Studies and therefore the outputs of those studies will also help shape the council’s future consideration and approach to BRT.

It is likely other measures would be needed in the interim as reflected in Actions 2.2 and 2.3. There is also a need to ensure that any scheme incorporates active travel routes along the corridor.


Theme 3: Cheaper fares

Bus Back Better Theme 3: Services should be “Cheaper, with more low, flat fares in towns and cities, lower point-to-point fares elsewhere, and more daily price capping everywhere”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Lower flat rate fares, lower single fares and lower daily price capping

Partially achieved.

Longer term tickets offer passengers savings; however, there is an issue with fares being considered high by some residents. In some cases, this is a comparison to London where buses are heavily subsidised. In others, there is a need for discussion on some fares which are perceived to be higher than those in equivalent areas.

The number of offers available (see Section 4), whilst being important to the individual target markets, can be confusing and make it harder for bus users to find the right ticket.

There is an opportunity for harmonisation across operators in areas such as age restrictions for young persons’ travel.



Brighton & Hove Buses to extend contactless fare capping period to cover up to one week rather than one day. This will ensure passengers using the bus on a number of days benefit from multi-day discounts.


Operators to develop a ‘best fare finder’ online tool / app and ensure contactless payment provides the best price available (not just the best on-bus price).


All operators to enter into credit union agreement to allow disadvantaged passengers to purchase season tickets and benefit from the additional value these offer. This will be accompanied by additional marketing so the offer is more widely known.


Operators will deliver a marketing campaign focusing on fares, including how to get the best value ticket and comparing to the cost of driving. This will include on-bus advertising and other areas that target people who do not use buses regularly or at all. 

The council will explore opportunities to support this through its own channels such as Variable Message Signs (VMS) on major roads.


The council and operators will continue to promote the BetterPoints Move for Change scheme which provides residents with rewards for travelling by public transport, on foot or by bike.


Operators will work with the council and neighbouring authorities (ESCC and WSCC) to introduce subsidised period bus passes for young people. These would provide unlimited travel and savings over current offers. Operators to also explore expansion of free travel for young people, previously offered at Christmas, to include other periods of the year. It is the council’s ultimate aim that young people will be able to travel on buses for free throughout the year.


Operators will review the current Discovery ticket (usable across all operators) to provide a simplified, discounted ticket, available across all routes to and from Brighton & Hove from East and West Sussex, allowing change to different operators within Brighton & Hove. Operators will also explore integration of the Discovery ticket with rail.

These initiatives will be complemented by those under Theme 7 which include measures to simplify bus services and better integrate them with other modes.

Further considerations

Further details will be included in the Enhanced Partnership agreement at a multi-operator level or through a separate agreement on an individual operator basis. The introduction of standalone offers will need to be balanced against the aspiration to simplify ticketing with cost effective tap-on, tap-off payments to be favoured.

Subsidisation of fares and development of the tools outlined will be subject to funding.

Consistency of offers and ticketing across different operators would be addressed through improvements to technology at a national level (see Action 6.2).

Development of cross-boundary offers such as an enhanced Discovery Ticket will be developed in partnership with neighbouring authorities.


Theme 4: More comprehensive services

Bus Back Better Theme 4: Services to be “more comprehensive, with overprovision on a few corridors reduced to boost provision elsewhere and better services in the evenings and weekends, not necessarily with conventional buses”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Services should be spread between corridors, avoiding significant over and under provision

Partially achieved.

The city does not have significant overlap between competing operators. However, the design of the bus network does mean that the majority of services are routed along North Street in the city centre.



The council will work with operators to explore whether some services terminating in the city centre could be re-routed to avoid travel along North Street.

Further considerations

Other measures to avoid or complement any re-routing will also be explored and could include further reviewing bus stopping arrangements, which has already had some success, and measures to address non-bus congestion in Castle Square.

Any re-routing will be subject to an assessment of the commercial viability of services with the need for public subsidy to be avoided.

The impact of terminating services before Churchill Square on people using these services to access shops will need to be considered.

It will also be subject to sufficient stand capacity and suitable interchange between services being identified in other areas, such as the Old Steine and Pool Valley coach station.

Theme 5: Better information

Bus Back Better Theme 5: Services should be “easier to understand, with simpler routes, common numbering, co-ordinated timetable change dates, good publicity, and comprehensive information online”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Bus stops should show accurate information about the services stopping there

Partially achieved.

Timetables at bus stops are maintained in line with timetable changes by Brighton & Hove Buses on behalf of all operators.

The majority of stops in the most used stop locations have Real Time Public Transport Information (RTPI). Real time service information at other stops can be obtained from bus operator apps.

Not all supported services reliably connect to the RTPI system. Compatibility issues can also be experienced with cross-boundary services.



The council will continue to maintain the current RTPI network, produce an RTPI strategy and work with supported bus service operators to ensure connectivity to RTPI systems.

Further considerations

Any additional RTPI signs will be subject to securing funding. Requirements for new signage will be reviewed in line with the future RTPI strategy which will consider bus stop location and boarding numbers. In locations without RTPI, passengers will be directed to operator apps as another source of real time information. The council will continue to seek funding, including developer contributions, to supplement any grants made available as part of the National Bus Strategy.

Every area should have easy to access, up to date maps, showing all local bus services.

Partially achieved.

Maps are available on operator websites; however, these vary in detail and consistency between operators. There are currently no maps of routes at stops which would assist visitors and others new to buses in the city.



Maps to be developed for shelters. This will begin with interchange locations and stops with multiple services, with a view to rolling out to all shelter locations. It is intended these will utilise the city’s wayfinding map (used on signage and other materials) to provide a consistent and recognisable map. Where required, additional information panels will be installed in shelters.

Further considerations

Wayfinding base map is already available. Funding and staff resource will be required to develop bespoke maps for each location.

Bus stops should be named consistently by operators running the same bus routes


Local branding should reflect the community and not the operator, though successful existing brands should not be sacrificed

Partially achieved.

As Brighton & Hove Buses are the main operator, this does mean that there is a consistent identity to the majority of services. Brighton & Hove Buses and Stagecoach have developed route branding for individual routes (including 700 to Portsmouth, Coaster to Eastbourne and Regency to Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, making them recognisable and assisting in marketing services, in particular long-distance routes. Recent branding has been community-based.



A common brand will be investigated to indicate that tickets can be used across different services; however, this will complement rather than replace current branding.

Further considerations

Any common logo will be subject to further discussion with operators and neighbouring authorities. This will need to take account of the fact some buses operate through a number of areas and inclusion of too many brands could be counterproductive.

Timetable changes should be minimised and co-ordinated across operators, so they happen at the same time.


Regular timetable changes occur twice a year in April and September. More frequent changes have been necessary during the pandemic and the intention will be for operators to revert to less frequent changes to avoid confusion. However, there have been some benefits in being more agile and there would be an advantage in continuing this under certain circumstances, providing this is well communicated.

Heavy promotion and marketing to familiarise non-users with their local buses, to demystify the service for non-users, and introductory offers to promote the service to them

Partially achieved.

Local operators have undertaken regular marketing campaigns. However, the public satisfaction data provided in Section 4 indicates that there is much that could be done to inform non-users on the benefits of buses, as well as features they may not be aware of such as ticketing offers and WiFi.


Actions to promote services will be supplemented by the marketing campaign around ticketing (Action 3.4).


All operators to introduce a targeted campaign to encourage people to try out buses with a discounted ticket.


Brighton & Hove Buses to continue to provide daytime staff presence at Brighton Station and in One Stop travel shops in Brighton and Hove. Funding sought to enable night time customer service coverage to respond to enquiries.


Operators to introduce passenger counting technology to provide more reliable information on how busy buses are and help customers plan.

Further considerations

Further details to be confirmed and included in Enhanced Partnership agreement.

More should be done to promote buses to visitors

Partially achieved.

Operators have existing relationships with tourism bodies, including VisitBrighton.

The Breeze up to the Downs services run between central Brighton and the South Downs National Park have been supported by the council for many years. However, there remains significant potential to grow and enhance these services, as well as encourage use of services to suburban areas, and those linking Brighton with nearby towns, to access the National Park and other attractions for leisure purposes.



The council will work with operators, neighbouring authorities, South Downs National Park, National Trust and Community Rail Partnership to expand on the existing Breeze up to the Downs campaign.

This could include:

  • building on the existing ‘Breeze up to the Downs and Beyond’ leaflet highlighting additional locations in the National Park served by other routes such as the 1 (Mile Oak) 270/271 (mid Sussex) and 28/29 (Lewes). This will include details of circular and point-to-point routes and ticket options so users can have confidence in travelling back via an alternative service
  • supporting the restoration of an improved 11X service (seasonal route between Brighton and Eastbourne via attractions such as Drusillas and Firle), included in ESCC’s BSIP
  • reinstating ‘Take the Bus for a Walk’ leaflet series.  These leaflets showed detailed maps of linear walks and gave details of how to access them by bus
  • preparing route-specific route guides, including timetable information

To complement this, the council has a desire to implement improved frequencies on Breeze services, including a weekday service to Stanmer Park (see Action 1.7).

The reintroduction of open top buses on these routes would also be supported and is likely to boost usage. This is however expected to increase contract costs were operators required to invest in bespoke vehicles.


Operators to work with tourism industry on a marketing campaign so that visitors are aware of buses in advance of and during their visit, including expanding on a trial scheme to offer bus travel with hotel stays.


Brighton & Hove Buses to work with tourism industry to promote Park & Ride trial to visitors from outside the area (subject to agreement of trial by Brighton & Hove City Council).

Further considerations

Campaigns subject to funding for staff time and materials. Improving frequencies of these services would be subject to funding.

Theme 6: Simpler ticketing

Bus Back Better Theme 6: Services to be easier to use, with common tickets, passes and daily capping across all operators, simpler fares, contactless payment, and protection of bus stations

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

All buses should accept contactless payment

Mostly achieved.

All operators accept cards; however, tap-on, tap-off function to be expanded to all operators.



Council and operators to support development of a national system to allow continuous contactless ticketing and fare capping for journeys across different operators.


Operators to implement ticket machine upgrades to allow faster contactless/smart/mobile read speeds to reduce boarding times.

All operators running on the same route should accept the same tickets

Mostly achieved.

Most commercial services are operated by one operator (Brighton & Hove Buses / Metrobus). In addition, services supported by the council specify the same fare structure and accept the same tickets, meaning there is consistency across the vast majority of bus services.

Only services where ticket structure is different are those operated by Stagecoach.


6.3 Stagecoach tickets to be accepted by Brighton & Hove Buses and supported bus service operators and vice versa.

Further considerations

Exact details and restrictions to be confirmed as part of Enhanced Partnership agreement.

Bus stations should be protected from closure and redevelopment and be improved and well maintained

Partially achieved.

Brighton & Hove does not have a bus station, although key interchanges are located at Old Steine, Brighton Station, Churchill Square and Palmeria Square.

Pool Valley coach station is not currently used by public buses; however, there is scope for it to be better utilised, such as to provide additional or replacement bus stand capacity, and it would benefit from environmental enhancements.



The council will explore opportunities for the enhancement of Pool Valley.

Further considerations

Subject to funding.

Theme 7: Better integration between modes

Bus Back Better Theme 7: “Services better integrated with other modes and each other, including more bus-rail interchange and integration and inter-bus transfers

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Integration with rail tickets

Partially achieved.

Local bus operators participate in the PlusBus scheme. This offers bus travel arrival at and/or departure destinations. Brighton & Hove Buses also accept rail smartcards. However, there is an opportunity to promote these more widely with the financial incentives made clear at the point of purchase and bus connections made clear to rail passengers at destination stations.

There could also be greater consistency between operators.



Bus operators will work with rail partners to develop a consistent and attractive rail-bus offer and market this to rail passengers.


The council and operators will support the development of a national system to allow continuous contactless payment between all bus operators and rail.

Further considerations

Exact details of fare offers will be included in the Enhanced Partnership agreement.

Integration with cycle hire and other modes

Not achieved.

Currently there is no integration between public transport and the council’s BTN Bikeshare cycle hire scheme.



The council will work with the bike share operator and bus operators to explore an integrated payment system.


The council will investigate options for local mobility hubs in neighbourhood locations. These will provide interchange between different forms of sustainable travel, which may include bus, rail, cycle hire and car clubs, depending on the location.

Further considerations

Integration with cycle hire will be dependent on a change or exemption to competition legislation.

The proposal to provide mobility hubs would be subject to consultation and agreement of the council’s LTP5.

Consideration of Park & Ride

Not achieved.

The city does not have a formal Park & Ride, although the car park at Withdean Sports Complex adjacent to the A23 has been promoted as a place people can park in order to catch scheduled bus services into the city centre.



Trial Park & Ride (subject to separate ETS Committee decision).

Further considerations

The trial Park & Ride scheme would use Mill Road adjacent to the A23/A27 junction, as is used for match days at the AMEX Community Stadium. The location would be intended to intercept visitors travelling into Brighton to reduce traffic in the city centre. The trial would be subject to a full evaluation to understand who is using it and how they would have travelled otherwise.

Consideration will also be given to the site forming a strategic mobility hub that enables people to switch from cars and coaches to bike share (including eBikes), buses and taxis to reach the city centre or other final destination.

More bus routes and demand-responsive services should serve railway stations and, for easy connections between modes, bus services should be timed to connect with trains


All 8 rail stations in the city are served by bus routes. Brighton, Hove and Portslade benefit from bus stops being located adjacent to stations. For other stations it would not be possible or desirable to route buses to the station entrance; however, bus routes are available in close proximity.

In all cases, services are frequent which helps to provide a reliable interchange between bus and rail.


As part of proposals to improve information at bus stops, including maps (Action 5.2), station locations will be considered a priority. This will be particularly the case where buses cannot physically reach stations or where rail replacement services do not stop in the immediate vicinity of the station. It will also help guide bus users to quicker journeys to stations by signposting walking routes to alternative services not serving the station directly, such as between Brighton Station and St Peter’s Church.

Further considerations

Integration at suburban rail stations could also be provided through mobility hubs as noted above.

Buses must also work better with each other to eliminate poor connections and uncoordinated timetables


The majority of bus services run at frequencies where reliable interchange can be made in the city centre.


It will be important to maintain current frequencies as per the actions outlined under Theme 1.

Engagement between different operators from different transport modes.


All bus operators actively participate in the Quality Bus Partnership.

Brighton & Hove Buses and Buswatch also attend the city’s Transport Partnership which is a quarterly forum attended by representatives of different modes, including rail, active travel and taxis.

Brighton & Hove Buses also actively participate in the South East Community Rail Partnership and the city’s recently established Active Travel Forum.

The council attends monthly Network Management meetings with Brighton & Hove Buses to understand current issues and prioritise measures to address these.


The council and operators are committed to continuing to engage in current partnership meetings and any that supersede this as a result of the Enhanced Partnership.

Theme 8: Accessible and safe services

Bus Back Better Theme 8: “Bus services should be safe and perceived to be safe by all”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

Making bus stops more accessible

Partially achieved.

The council has a long running programme to provide accessible kerbs at bus stops.



The council will continue its rolling programme to provide accessible kerbs and reduce street clutter at bus stops with the ultimate aim of making all stops accessible.


The council will continue to extend accessible kerbs at bus stops to accommodate double-door buses.

Further considerations

This programme is subject to funding with an annual allocation from the council’s LTP programme.

An additional £200,000 has been allocated in 2021 to 2022 from the council’s Climate Action Fund for accessible bus stops in suburban areas. Brighton & Hove Buses has previously funded the extension of accessible kerbs at some stops to accommodate new double-door buses.

Additional funding will allow the programme to continue at a quicker pace.

Improvements to the waiting environment

Partially achieved.

There is good bus shelter provision in the city but a number of additional stops would benefit from shelters.

A bee friendly shelter with a planted roof was installed in summer 2021 at Palmeria Square. This has wider environmental benefits for the city, as well as helping to provide a more attractive waiting environment and helping to promote buses. Subject to the success of this trial, there would be an opportunity to provide similar shelter upgrades in other locations.



The council will continue to upgrade bus stop waiting environments to provide improved and more attractive facilities, including shelters and seating. This will include working with the council’s shelter contractor and prioritising those with higher numbers of boarding passengers.


The council will investigate and install ‘superhub’ bus shelters in key interchange locations such as Churchill Square and Valley Gardens. These would provide improved waiting environments, including upgraded information screens, WiFi, USB charging points and CCTV. In addition, they could potentially include other features which make them a landmark and, in doing so, help in the marketing of bus services.

Further considerations

The installation of shelters and seating will be subject to funding. Under current arrangements, the council typically installs shelters at a small number of sites per year, funded through revenue from the shelter advertising contract.

Superhub bus shelters are currently unfunded and exact features, design and footprint would be subject to the setting of the shelter and site investigations.

Consideration of improvements to walking routes to stops

Partially achieved.

The majority of bus stops are served by a walking route. Bus stops in some locations could be improved where footways are at a different level to the carriageway and others would benefit from pedestrian crossing improvements. In some locations, footways may not be fully compliant with current guidance such as in relation to recommended footway widths.


Priorities for improvements to walking routes and areas will be identified as part of the LCWIP. Measures are likely to include improvements to footway condition, lighting and accessibility. Other infrastructure schemes, such as those identified elsewhere in this BSIP will consider access to bus stops where possible.

Further considerations

Improvements to walking routes are subject to available funding. The council will continue to explore funding opportunities from bus and non-bus grants and seek developer contributions where possible.

All vehicles have working CCTV.


Although buses do have CCTV, stops do not. This is addressed in Actions 8.3 and 8.4.

Safety should be included in customer relations with clear complaints procedures, liaison with the police and local stakeholders.


All operators have complaints procedures in place. Operators work closely with Sussex Police to investigate any incidents which do occur, such as hate crimes. Brighton & Hove Buses employ a dedicated Police Liaison Officer. These are taken seriously to ensure no passenger is made to feel unsafe or unwelcome travelling on buses. Procedures are in place for the discrete reporting of incidents and Brighton & Hove Buses have been working with Sussex Police to encourage this.

Theme 9: Providing modern buses and decarbonisation

Bus Back Better Theme 9: Providing “modern buses and decarbonisation”

Below, we've listed:

  • National Bus Strategy requirements
  • if they've been achieved in Brighton & Hove
  • Actions
  • Further considerations

All LTAs must work with bus operators and energy providers to include ambitions to decarbonise the local bus fleet

In addition to the National Bus Strategy’s references to decarbonisation, there is a need to address local air quality in Brighton & Hove’s Air Quality Management Areas from other emissions, such as Nitrogen Dioxide, and particulates.

Limited achievement.

Significant private investment has been made by operators in cleaner vehicles with operators meeting the progressively higher standards introduced by the council for vehicles to run through the city’s Low Emissions Zone and, subsequently, its Ultra Low Emissions Zone. This has been complemented by the council successfully bidding for and providing its own funding, alongside Brighton & Hove Buses, for the conversion of older vehicles to reduce emissions.

The Big Lemon run a small fleet of electric buses. At the time of writing, The Big Lemon operate some supported bus services which are currently subject to retendering.  Brighton & Hove Buses have recently invested significantly in limited range electric buses which operate on an electric battery though the city centre Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). Although these generate emissions elsewhere, they are cleaner than all other buses in the fleet and represent a stepping stone to zero emissions.

Both Go-Ahead group (the parent organisation of Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus) and Stagecoach have an aim for their bus operations to be net zero by 2035.



All operators to convert to a fully zero emissions fleet and procure energy from renewable sources. The council will continue to support operators with funding bids.


All buses will be Euro VI as a minimum through the ULEZ by 2023 with conversion of remaining Euro V vehicles.


The council will specify that buses on supported bus routes will operate Euro VI vehicles as a minimum from 2022 and be zero emissions from no later than 2026.

Further considerations

The pathway to fully zero emissions fleets will be agreed as part of the Enhanced Partnership agreement. This will include milestones based on the percentage of fleets which are fully zero emissions in each year.

The limited range of standard electric batteries, length of time buses are in service and the topography of the city makes an all-electric fleet challenging for most routes. As such, Brighton & Hove Buses expect hydrogen technology to be the solution. In any case, the shift to zero emissions fleets will require the redevelopment of bus depots. 

Making buses more accessible

Largely achieved.

All buses are step free and most have information screens, audio stop announcements and hearing loops.

Brighton & Hove Buses are an industry leader in ensuring their services are accessible, employing a dedicated Accessibility and Communities Manager. Close engagement with groups representing disabled and older people has seen a number of innovations, including:

  • making services accessible for people with dementia
  • development of an assistance card
  • Taxi guarantee scheme (if for any reason a wheelchair is unable to board the bus)
  • discounted travel for carers
  • accessibility champions



All operators to work together to prepare a joint accessibility standard for services in order to ensure the features currently seen on some buses / operators are available on all. This will be a requirement for all services operating in the city through the Enhanced Partnership.

Provide ample areas for pushchairs and luggage in addition to the wheelchair space

Partially achieved.


The need to allow for storage of both pushchairs and wheelchairs will be considered in the accessibility standard (Action 9.5).

Audible and visible information and WiFi on all services


Audio-visual information, WiFi and chargers are available on the majority of services.



Operators will continue to specify audio-visual stop information in the procurement of new vehicles.


The council will make audio-visual information a requirement for future operators of supported bus services.


Operators will explore the introduction of 5G WiFi as technology allows.


USB chargers to be retrofitted to additional buses.

More buses, particularly in rural areas, should also carry cycles

Limited achieved.

Foldable bikes are permitted on all services; however, the only services to permit non-foldable bikes currently are the Breeze up to the Downs services supported by the council. Stakeholders have requested an increase in capacity for cycles and for this to be rolled out to other services.



Operators will investigate options for allowing cycles on additional routes serving the South Downs.

Further considerations

It is likely that any on-board capacity for cycles will need to be flexible, for example, fold down seats and capacity for wheelchairs will need to be prioritised. The impact of reduced seating capacity will also need to be considered.

7. Reporting


As required by the National Bus Strategy, the BSIP will be reviewed annually and progress against BSIP targets will be published every 6 months. This will be made available on the council’s Enhanced Partnership and Bus Service Plan page.


Progress will also be reported to the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee annually, alongside the yearly review of the BSIP. This will include progress against the targets for passenger numbers, journey reliability and customer satisfaction provided in Section 5. It will also summarise progress against the actions outlined in Section 6.


It is expected that meetings that currently take place between operators, the council and Buswatch will continue under the Enhanced Partnership. These joint meetings currently take place quarterly and progress against BSIP targets would form a standing item on the agenda.

Appendix A: Bus Passenger Charter

Passenger Charter 2021 to 2022

What is the Charter?

The purpose of the Bus Passenger Charter is to explain:

  • what bus passengers can expect from bus services in Brighton & Hove
  • how to complain if your expectations are not met

The Charter reflects guidance from the Department for Transport and Transport Focus. It will be reviewed annually alongside the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). This will be subject to consultation with bus operators and passenger representatives.

Which services does the Charter cover?

The Charter covers all public bus services originating or arriving in the Brighton & Hove City Council area.

These are currently operated by:

  • Brighton & Hove Buses
  • Compass
  • Metrobus,
  • Stagecoach
  • The Big Lemon

Passenger entitlements

What are my legal rights?

The Charter does not create any new legal rights for passengers[3].

Find out more about your rights as a bus passenger.

Our service commitments to passengers:

  • for the proportion of people who say they are satisfied with their bus service to increase to 80% by 2025
  • for drivers to be courteous and helpful at all times
  • operators will provide vehicles which are cleaned internally on a daily basis and provide an attractive and comfortable travelling environment at all times
  • operators will ensure all vehicles are accessible to all, including those with physical and hidden disabilities. All operators will sign-up to a local Accessibility Standard to be developed
  • wheelchair spaces on buses will be prioritised for disabled passengers. Where a disabled passenger is unable to board because wheelchair spaces are occupied, the operator will arrange a taxi free of charge
  • the council will maintain its aim to make all bus stops accessible and increase the number each year
  • route branded buses should not be used on other services if suitable non-branded vehicles are available.
  • all operators will work with the council to improve bus punctuality with each implementing the actions contained in the BSIP. The target is for 85% of services to run on time by 2025 and 90% by 2030
  • operators will keep passengers updated of service disruption via websites and social media, as well as real time information where it is available
  • the council will work with bus operators to provide timetable and route information at all stops
  • measures will be put in place to help passengers feel safe, including CCTV on all buses

What passengers can expect from the BSIP

It includes proposals for:

Reduced travel costs and more free travel for young people

Simplified fares to make it always easier to get the cheapest ticket

  • more bus priority, including A23 and A259 bus lanes
  • better integration between bus operators, rail and Bike Share
  • zero emissions buses by 2030
  • more frequent supported bus services
  • more limited-stop services
  • review of bus stop locations
  • better quality bus shelters and stops
  • dedicated enforcement staff and red routes to keep buses running
  • strategic Park & Ride trial at Mill Road
  • better information at stops
  • Applying a new accessibility standard across all buses
  • USB chargers on more buses

Timescales for the above will be subject to funding.

We want to know when services do not meet your expectations.

Comments, suggestions and complaints about services

Brighton & Hove Buses

Send an email to

Phone 01273 886 200


Send an email to

Phone 01903 690 025


Send an email to

Phone  01293 449 191


Go to the Stagecoach website.

Phone 0345 121 0190

The Big Lemon

Send an email to

Phone 01273 681 681

Feedback on council-funded bus services, streets and bus shelters

Send an email to

Phone 01273 292 480.

All complaints will be investigated by operators and/or the council. All complaints will be acknowledged within 7 days of receipt. More complex complaints will receive a full response within 21 days. In all cases, consideration will be given to implementing a solution where this is needed and is practical.

If you don’t feel your complaint has been resolved, you can raise it with Bus Users UK.

Send an email to

Phone 0300 111 0001.

The number and type of complaints will be monitored by operators and the council. A summary and action plan will be published every 6 months as part of the BSIP reporting process. This will also include reporting of progress against commitments in this Charter.

Customer experience will be discussed at meetings of the Enhanced Partnership between operators and the council. These meetings will be attended by Brighton & Hove Buswatch to represent the views of bus users.

Publication of the Charter

The Charter is available on the council’s website with a link provided on all operators’ websites. A notice announcing the publication of the Bus Passenger Charter will be placed on buses running within the Brighton & Hove boundary and at the main interchange locations.

Paper copies and large print formats are available on request from the council, One Stop Travel shops and from public libraries.

Next update due: October 2022