Funding cuts see bus route changes

BUS passengers will see services slashed again as six routes in Tunbridge Wells are withdrawn by Kent County Council (KCC).

From Sunday (February 12), bus routes 6, 255, 277, 293, 296 and TW9 will see services cut down or withdrawn after KCC voted to cut subsidies to 38 bus routes across the county.

The six routes are part of 23 bus services in Tunbridge Wells that have been withdrawn over the last ten months due to cuts by operators.

Route 255 services Benenden to Tunbridge and connects the rural villages of Hawkhurst, Lamberhurst, and Filmwell to the town, whilst route 296 links the remote areas of Horsmonden, Brenchley and Kippings Cross, between Tunbridge wells and Paddock Wood.

Cllr Suzanne Wakeman (Alliance) of Paddock Wood East said: “I am upset and concerned about the removal of many buses and routes from Paddock Wood and the surrounding areas.

“At a time when so many houses are being built it is more important than ever that we have the supporting infrastructure.

“Our roads are already struggling with the increased traffic which will only become worse increasing the damage to our climate contrary to KCC’s climate change targets.


“These cuts will massively affect older people and school children including young women travelling home at night who don’t feel comfortable using taxis.”


Changes taking effect on Sunday will see routes that service some of the most rural areas in the borough, such as the 255 and 293, being suspended indefinitely.

Other routes such as the 6, 277, 296, and TW9 that service will see services diverted or cut down by one day a week.

Initial plans by KCC were to stop funding to 48 services by 2022 but following public consultation, the cull was reduced to 38 services saving the county council £2.2million.

The defunding of the routes will impact services operated by Arriva, Autocar, Stagecoach, Go Coach, Regents, Nu-Venture and Chalkwell with the six discontinued routes in Tunbridge Wells expected to save KCC £120,403 a year.

The plans by KCC have received widespread backlash after fears it will cut off and isolate residents in rural communities including women using the services at night.

In October 2022, KCC councillors voted 37 for, 15 against with one abstention to the cuts following an extensive public consultation between February 2022 – April 2022 which received 2,562 responses.

The council also received three petitions, surveys by Kent Karrier operators and a parish council plus four letters from MPs.

Kent Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, David Brazier, had previously defended the cuts, saying: “The council is under no obligation to support unviable bus services.

“This is subject to the availability of funding,” adding: “Effectively the £2.2m is no longer in
my budget and I cannot spend money I do not have.”

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