Row over real time bus signs

Bus information display system not working in Terminus Road. January 24th 2013 E04109P
Bus information display system not working in Terminus Road. January 24th 2013 E04109P

A Conservative councillor has this week blamed the failure of the real time bus signs on the Lib Dem council after its leader slammed the fact they didn’t work.

Last week it was revealed by transport bosses at East Sussex County Council the signs would not work for the next two years and the leader of Eastbourne Borough Council David Tutt described it as ‘pathetic’. However, this week, Conservative councillor Patrick Warner says it is the Lib Dems who are to blame because they sold off Eastbourne Buses to Stagecoach back in 2007 without ensuring the new firm would continue to operate and maintain the real time signs.

Cllr Warner, who was also chairman of Eastbourne Buses when the signs were introduced, said the system worked well and allowed the control room to provide a better management of the fleet of buses.

He said, “When David Tutt’s Lib Dems took control of the borough council in 2007 against the odds, they sold Eastbourne Buses to Stagecoach without requiring them to maintain the real time information system.

“Within days, a large number of the old Eastbourne Buses fleet were withdrawn and either sold or transferred elsewhere in the group, being replaced by standard Stagecoach buses. The real time information was switched off at the depot as group management processes were adopted in Eastbourne and the transponders were either removed or worse still left on buses to be scattered in different directions across the country.”

Cllr Warner said he was surprised to read Cllr Tutt’s comments in the Herald last week. Cllr Tutt told the Herald he would contact the county council about the issue. But Cllr Warner said, “East Sussex County Council has recently been successful in getting Government funding to expand the real time information system across East Sussex and has succeeded where the Lib Dems failed. It has now reached agreement to get Stagecoach on board to work with them in updating the current system which will happen over the next couple of years.”

Cllr Tutt said Cllr Warner was trying to ‘create a smokescreen’ and said he was ‘staggered’ at the Conservative councillors’ comments.

He said, “In May 2007, I believe that Eastbourne Buses was only able to continue trading due to a £150,000 unsecured loan from one of the executive directors and, if we had not taken the action we did to sell the company as a going concern it may well have had to close down. It is true that Stagecoach changed a number of the buses when they took over, replacing them with brand new vehicles with drop platforms that made it easier for disabled passengers to board.”

Cllr Tutt said it was East Sussex County Council’s responsibility to maintain the signs.