Metrobus to end Gatwick Early Bird 380 bus service

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A small hours bus service to Gatwick Airport from the coast via the A22, covering Hailsham, Uckfield, Nutley, Forest Row and East Grinstead, looks set to be withdrawn at the end of this week, the Sussex Express said .

St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP), Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG) and East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA) have all said they are disappointed that the Early Bird 380 to Gatwick, which is operated by Go-Ahead-owned Metrobus and sponsored by Gatwick Airport, is to stop running on April 22.

The twice-nightly service was introduced in mid-2015 to cover for the lack of an early hours rail service to the airport. However, passenger numbers have been consistently low, which has meant the service is not commercially viable.

A spokeswoman from Metrobus told CBW: “We’ve been working with Gatwick Airport to provide these early morning journeys since last Spring but despite lots of local support and promotion, the numbers of people using the service has continued to be very low.

“Unfortunately we cannot continue to operate the service at a significant loss. The last day of operation will be April 22.

“We would like to thank everyone who supported this initiative.”

Martin Woodfine, from SHRIMP, said: “This was a bold initiative which we regret has not been the success that was hoped for.

“Hindsight is a marvellous tool, but the lack of promotion by the operators, a routing which bypassed population catchment areas and unclear signage at the airport are all significant contributory factors to its failure. In reality, a large number of people never saw the bus or knew it operated.”

Wealden District Councillor, Barry Marlowe from Buxted said: “We are trying to persuade Gatwick to continue sponsoring this bus. The problem is it shoots up the A22 in the dark and no-one knows where to catch it.

“If a few changes were made to the route, I am sure it would be viable. We worked hard to set this up and our research shows there are many people who would use it, if they could find where it stops.”