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Welcome to the Official Website of the

  Bexhill Community Bus

   A Volunteer Organisation and Registered Charity

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Our History

A brief history of the Bexhill Community Bus from its start in 1980 to the present day.  For pictures of the various buses please click on the links within the text.



The Beginning in 1980
The 1980’s
The 1990’s
The 2000’s
The 2010’s
The Present Day



The Beginning in 1980
Up to 1980 local bus services in Bexhill had been provided by Maidstone and District (M & D) Motor Services, however cuts in public transport support grants resulted in drastic reductions to local bus services in Bexhill and the closure of the M & D garage in Terminus Road.
A study led by Doug Upton - retired local businessman and vice-chairman of the Bexhill Council of Voluntary Services - into the funding and running of an independent, volunteer-run, local Community Bus concluded that a local bus operation was viable. Funds were sought for the purchase of a suitable vehicle and volunteers sought to operate and run the service.  Public meetings were held to discuss the proposals and much effort went into planning and agreeing the four routes, producing a timetable and calculating a fare structure. Funding of the bus was eventually secured by way of grants from East Sussex County Council and the Ministry of Transport, together with substantial local fund-raising resulting in the purchase of a 16-seater Reeve-Burgess at a cost of almost £20,000.  A host of volunteers were recruited with all drivers being trained and assessed by qualified assessors.  Up to then Community Buses had only operated in rural locations so Bexhill’s was the first to operate in an urban environment when services commenced on 13 September 1980.  The bus was an instant success. Local businesses were encouraged to donate prizes for the 100th, 500th and 1000th passengers and these were all awarded within the first two weeks with over 3000 passengers carried in the first month. So popular was the service that before long the initial “driver-only” arrangement was augmented by a conductor to take the fares, help passengers to board, alight and to assist with shopping trolleys.




The Chairman of Rother District Council, Don Kimber, cuts
the tape in front of the De La Warr Pavilion to mark the
inauguration of the Bexhill Community Bus service.


The 1980’s

A second bus was purchased in 1982, not only with assistance from the Ministry of Transport and East Sussex County Council, but also with a substantial input from operational revenue.  Over the years the operation of the bus went from strength to strength and the service became well known and very popular around the town.  Due to the financial stability of the company the model was also established whereby a new minibus could be purchased every two/three years with the oldest bus being used as a trade in.  New buses were purchased in 1986 and 1989.
 


The 1990’s

By June 1990 the bus had carried 500,000 passengers and replacement buses had been put into operation in 1993, 1996 and 1999.
 


The 2000’s

In February 2000 the magic figure of 1,000,000 passengers was reached.  After many years without proper garaging facilities, Rother District Council made a parcel of land available in October 2000 for a peppercorn rent and with the aid of significant donations from the Bexhill Friends of the Elderly and the Friends of Bexhill Hospital, a purpose-built 4-bay garage was erected and commissioned in April 2001. The garage provides protection from the weather and proper security for our vehicles. Two of the bays are rented out to the Bexhill Caring Community.  A number of changes were made over the years with routes and timetables being revamped several times and a much-simplified flat fare structure introduced in October 2002.  Replacement buses were bought in 2002, 2004 and 2007 (our tenth).



The 2010’s

In September 2010 we reached the milestone of 1.5m passengers and in June 2011 we were extremely pleased to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service one of only 17 organisation in London and the South East to receive the award in 2011 . The award which is the volunteer equivalent of an MBE is made following nominations from the public and is the highest award granted to volunteer groups. Replacement buses were bought in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2018.
 


The Present Day

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone due to Covid-19 and on 21 March 2020 we took the hard decision to suspend our services.  The first long term suspension in 40 years of service.  Our 2018 bus and a number of our volunteers did however continue to service the community by picking up food from donors and delivering to the Bexhill foodbank as well as collecting and delivering items for the Bexhill Share scheme.  On a brighter note, we have recommenced a morning service on 13 July 2020, have moved offices to Beeching Close (near the bus garage) and are taking delivery of our latest bus in August 2020.



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