Exceptional days, essential travel – A Brighton & Hove Bus Company Column

Nowhere does Pride like our city. And this year’s Brighton Pride – celebrating its 25th year earlier this month – was bigger and brighter than ever. Take a look at this short film to get an idea of the joyful atmosphere on the streets that day. It was great to be part of it. To support our Unite Bus Workers LGBT Group in particular, and our local community more generally, we wanted to mark this special year with extra input. So we teamed up with the Argus Appeal, providing an open-top bus that joined the Parade to transport notables such as the Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant, as well as B&H staff. We also ran a shuttle service from the celebrations at Preston Park to the city centre. And we gave one of our new double deckers a splendid Pride livery, so there would be a tribute to our city’s diversity out on the streets long after the party is over. But now the party is over for another year, it’s time to take a long hard look at logistics … to think again about how to keep the city moving and provide essential transport for everyone in our community on the days when large events – not just Pride but the Children’s Parade, for example – cut the city in two in the middle of the day.Brighton and Hove Buses2

Things came to a head this year when a suspect package on the Pride route meant Police had to delay the parade by more than an hour, and then divert its route from the seafront and into Western Road and North Street. Almost every single service of ours operates via this central artery, and many of our buses and drivers were literally stuck for hours. Services across the city suffered severe delays and cancellations as a result. These may have been exceptional circumstances, but it has convinced me that on days when the city holds its largest events, we need a completely fresh approach. Despite the huge amount of contingency planning before major events, we are always prone to the unexpected. We will take a radical rethink and design a special network for these exceptional days – a bespoke service tailored to the specifics of the day or night in question. I’m sure instead of trying to run close-to our usual services, it would be far better to run an alternative, reduced-yet-reliable and robust service, and publicise this well in advance. By promising less, we will deliver more. Brighton and Hove is a city of parties, events and festivals – it’s one of the things that makes it so special – and we want to ensure that we can continue to provide essential transport for all, whatever’s happening in the city. I’d love to hear your views @citybusnews or by email.