On the Buses
2nd April 2015
Thank you to David Toser for this useful article about changes to Eynsford's current bus services.
What is the value of a bus service to the community?
In Eynsford we have enjoyed a reasonably good bus service with buses to Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Swanley, Dartford and Bluewater. Even to those who own or have access to a car, a regular bus service can prove useful when the car is being serviced, under repair, when arranging a "liquid" lunch with friends, or simply to avoid the hassle and cost of parking in Sevenoaks in the weeks before Christmas.
To those without a car it can be essential in order to reach a place of work or shop, go to the cinema or theatre, play or watch sports or visit a friend or relative in hospital.
Again we are fortunate in Eynsford to have a railway station so that with a bit of walking one can reach the centre of Sevenoaks, Swanley or Bromley without a car, but not so easy to reach Dartford, Darent Valley Hospital or Bluewater.
Recognising this, many rural bus services are part funded by Kent County Council. This includes the 421 service to Sevenoaks and Swanley as well as the 478 from Swanley, through Farningham to West Kingsdown, providing their only regular means of public transport.
Last April, Arriva introduced a new bus route through Eynsford providing a direct link with Tunbridge Wells and Bluewater. It has to be said that its introduction was not accompanied by much fanfare or advertising, so many may have been surprised to see modern double-decker buses from Tunbridge Wells threading their way through the village every hour or so.
Make the most of it for from mid April this year this service is being withdrawn, leaving us with just the 421 bus four times a day to Swanley and Sevenoaks, both places that can easily be reached by train. At least the 421 does take the "pretty route" through Shoreham village, Twitton, the back roads of Otford, finishing up with a tour around the back of the gas works at Bat & Ball along the road named in honour of that nice Mr. Thomas Crampton (who designed the first steam engines to run to Bat & Ball.) Not a bad tour, but as the first bus of the day does not reach Sevenoaks until twenty to eleven in the morning, and the last bus leaves at twenty past two in the afternoon, not much use for anyone wanting anything other than a late morning shopping spree in the town.
Approaches have been made to Arriva in the hope that some form of through service to Dartford can be provided, and with KCC to restore the original route of the 478 to include Eynsford again, so that at least reasonable connections to Dartford, Darent Valley Hospital and Bluewater are possible. It remains to be seen whether these attempts bear fruit but until then, it may be a case of only appreciating the worth of a bus service when it is no longer there.