Buses to the village

Updated April 24

The Parish Council are continuing to fight for an improvement to the bus service…..

Letter from Neil Baker,  Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport 5th April 2024

In terms of diverting services 12 and 80, Stagecoach advise that this is not possible without extra resource to maintain frequencies. However, they are exploring alternative options that could possibly be delivered with a lower cost base and will be keeping Mr Mannion and Ms Elphicke updated with regards to any developments.”

From Matthew Arnold, Commercial Director  Stagecoach  via Natalie Elphicke MP 15th March 2024

Given the scale of work which we have been undertaking to stabilise the network post-Covid it hasn’t been possible to look at all suggestions sent to us in a timely manner and in this case, any possible solution to provide additional services to St Margaret’s on a sustainable basis will rely on the continuation of a number of school services operated under contract to Kent County Council and which expire at the end of the academic year so I want to ensure that any proposal which we are able to make will have longevity.

Dec 2023:    The Parish Council is bitterly disappointed with the decimation of the bus services to the village. From Nov 22 the  provision dropped 4 fold. St Margarets was removed from the Dover – Deal regular route number 80 and a minor  new service 93 was set up, which results in:

  • No service on Sundays & bank holidays – We are a tourist destination!
  • Only 3 buses/workday to Deal – Last bus back to the village 2pm
  • 5 buses/workday to Dover via a very indirect route.

One option  we have proposed  is the “Dogleg” to be added to the Dover – Deal 80-route . It is about one additional mile for this bus to come into the village and straight out again. Station Road – Dover Road. Historically, the bus would travel to Bay Hill before turning and the traffic and narrow lanes through the High street could be time consuming.  This dog leg would avoid this. Google Maps measures 2km  along A258 between Station road and Dover road – compared to  3.7km going into the village as far as the Station Road / Dover Road junction.

We know that doesn’t totally help those residents in the Bay, but there are already stories of people being dropped at the Swinggate bus stop and taking their life in their hands walking from there back to the village. (Unlit fast road with no pavements)


The Parish Council arranged a virtual meeting on the 8th Feb 23 with the Operations Manager of Stagecoach (Louise Still),  her collegue Dave, themselves and concerned local resident Maria Fitzgerald. Notes from this meeting are  here

This was followed up with an open  Question and Answer session with Stagecoach at the Parish Council meeting Mon 13th Feb 6.45. The public raised their concerns with  Mathew Arnold (commercial manager) and Louise Still. An extract from these minutes are attached below.

The Parish council requested details of bus usage and despite  several reminders nothing has been forthcoming. On 13th Sept we were informed ” As far as I understand, at present there is no movement on our current routing of services on this corridor. That’s not to say that we don’t understand the situation; any change would impact the timing of the journey and as our routes all intertwine, there would be an impact on subsequent routes and schedules”

For your info – the new timetable.

Extract from minutes February 2023

4. Stagecoach re Reduction to Bus Services

● Matthew Arnold (Commercial Manager) and Louise Sills (Operations Manager) attended for Stagecoach.

● Following points raised by members of the public present:

● Maria Fitzgerald – service for St Margaret’s has been decimated – with a lot of people (elderly/non-drivers/disabled/workers) being impacted by the cuts in service; the No 93 service is so limited with the last bus back from Deal to the village at 2pm from Deal.

● Residents are starting to feel like “prisoners” in the village, particularly felt at weekends/bank holidays when there is no service at all. A number of people were alone over Christmas and New Year.

● People use the bus for shopping, doctor and hospital appointments as well as socialising; Maria herself advised that she had to pay £40 for a taxi for a hospital appointment due to no available buses. Also commented that Tourism will be badly hit by the cuts.

● Volunteer from South Foreland Lighthouse – when working at the Lighthouse, she directs visitors to the village for buses. “Kent feels like the poor relation”. She is currently undertaking a walking challenge around the UK and there is a coastal service everywhere except Kent. She is aware of an elderly lady spending £45 on a taxi for hospital – this then meant that she had no money left leading to isolation.

● Sarah P – advised that she recently sold her car in an effort to “go green”. She lives in the town but her Mother lives in the village and she had not appreciated how huge the change to the bus service would be – such that she has now had to buy another car. Using the bus app advises travellers to get off the bus at Ringwould on the A258 – this is a death trap. She believes that the “dog leg” solution of coming in via Westcliffe/Dover Road to the junction and re-existing on to the A258 is a workable solution together with No 93 bus. This would only entail two stops, then on to Deal road.

● Reports advised of an elderly lady getting off the bus at the Swingate, and walking to the village at night cross-country – an ordeal for her.

● Resident – “frequency is the main issue, with last bus from Deal at 2pm”.

● Louise Sills and Matthew Arnold advised as follows:

● Back to pre Covid times 95% of service was run at their commercial risk, with 5% deemed to be socially necessary funded by KCC through a tendering process No 93 is a KCC service.

● Pre pandemic Nos 80 and 81 were losing £320k a year. Through the Pandemic the company was provided with Central Government support – this came to an end in October 2022. Passenger numbers have reduced to around 80% of previous and off-peak service has suffered.- 3

● DOT – sat down with KCC and discussed “this is what we can run, or not run”.

● Passenger numbers have remained static at 80% of previous numbers. KCC are cutting budgets and UK wide there will be a lot of bus service reductions.

● “We don’t expect this to be the end position” but the business needs to survive. With losses being seen the company needs to save money very quickly. On questioning, Matthew advised that an average of 25 people per day were using the service from the village, excluding schoolchildren.

● Sarah – when was the service last profitable? Matthew advised it was covering its costs in 2016.

● As regards the dog-leg idea, the knock-on effect to the service would need to be investigated, together with new bus stops/shelters.

● Cllr Manion of the new bus service from Aylesham which is “ride responsive”. However this was only possible through large developer contributions from housing at Aylesham.

● Matthew advised there is no certainty on future funding or service and cannot make any promises.

● Cllr George Simcox – “could PC fund a bus to come through the village”. Although this would be possible, financially likely to be unviable.