Following the withdrawal of rural bus services by a commercial bus operator, Cuckmere Buses was set up back in 1976. The community business provides local residents who do not have access to a car with a reliable and competitively priced local bus service in the Cuckmere Valley region. It is entirely run by volunteers.
The locals feel that, without Cuckmere Buses, many elderly, unwell and low-waged residents would be socially isolated and unable to reach vital services or visit friends. The services run only where commercial services do not and are used over 85,000 times a year. Concessionary fares also benefit anyone over the age of 65, making transport affordable as well as readily available.
Thanks to a Power to Change grant in 2016, Cuckmere Buses was able to replace a minibus and reduce its maintenance costs.
Adapting to covid-19 challenges
When Covid-19 hit Cuckmere Buses was faced with little demand and many drivers shielding, so it paused services during the multiple periods of lockdown. When it was able to restart services, it did so with a focus on safety. The minibuses ran with reduced capacity, had Perspex screens installed, used contactless payment systems, and offered both hand sanitiser and masks for its passengers and drivers.
The future for Cuckmere Buses
Cuckmere Buses continues to adapt to the needs of the Cuckmere Valley region community with different routes. It works closely with bus operators to plug gaps that cannot be met through commercial services, including those for potential new housing developments. The charity also responds to changing local authority requests, such as trialling pre-booked and through services (where multiple train and bus services are combined into one ticket).
Always keeping an eye on the future, Cuckmere Buses is now exploring the option of bringing electric vehicles into its fleet.