Nu Venture coaches who operate the number 13 bus from Hollingbourne to Maidstone from Monday to Friday has warned Hollingbourne Parish Council that the service may be at risk following a review of subsidised local bus services by Kent County Council in 2017.
Mr Norman Kemp of Nu Venture coaches told the Parish Council meeting on 14th Noember that Hollingbourne residents could use their vital service if more people did not use it. He also told the meeting that he welcomes suggestions for improving the service which also serves Leeds, Langley, and Otham. Mr Kemp can be contacted at email@example.com
The present Monday to Friday bus service takes around 35 minutes to reach Maidstone Town Centre with departures from Hollingbourne Church at 7.17am,9.30am, 11.30am,1.30pm 3.14pm, and 4.47pm. There are also stops at Troys Mead and at the Eyhorne Street Village Shop. The return journey from the Maidstone Town Centre takes 30 minutes with departures at 10.55am, 12.50 pm, 2.10pm, 4.10pm, and 5.35pm. On Saturdays the service is operated by Arriva with departures from Hollingbourne Church at 10.07am, 11.27am, 1.27pm, 2.47pm,and 5.17pm. The return journey is at 10.55am, 12.50pm, 2.10pm, and 4.40pm.
Other public transport services serving Hollingbourne include the Arriva bus service with a stop at Hollingbourne Corner on the A20 which runs between Maidstone and Ashford and the rail service from Hollingbourne to Maidstone East, Ashford, and beyond. There is no taxi service based in Hollingbourne.
No data was available from Mr Kemp at the November Parish Council meeting regarding the size of the subsidy given to the Hollingbourne bus service but it was noted that the vehicles used are not the most modern available in order to keep within the budget constraints imposed by Kent County Council.
According to data published by the Department of Transport bus usage in Kent has been in decline for many years. In 2015/6 the were 36 bus journeys in Kent per head of population versus 39 in the South East and 83 nationally. The best performance in the South East was in Reading where there were 126 bus journeys per head of population and the bus service is owned by the local Council. For more information please go to /hollingbournepc/UserFiles/file/Department%20of%20Transport%20Statistics%20Bus%20usage.ods It is possible that the declining use of affordable public transport in Kent and in the Maidstone area in particular is one of the causes of traffic jams and occasional gridlock.
Pictured below is a typical Nu Venture bus which might not be seen for much longer if more people do not use the service.