THE replacement Arriva bus depot was opened in Kingstanding Way on the North Farm industrial estate on March 9, ahead of the new raft of services which began operating two days later.
Local MP Greg Clark attended the unveiling of the facility, on the site of a former technical college, which can cater for 80 buses and offers seven maintenance bays. The depot replaces the former one in St John’s Road, which closed last October after 80 years.
Arriva has made significant alterations to several of its services operating in West Kent, based on customer feedback received, in order to ‘better the passenger experience and improve efficiency’.
Mr Clark, who is also Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “Many people rely on local buses to get to work, to visit friends and family and to go shopping, so it’s really important that we have reliable, regular bus services.
“Arriva has been listening closely to what customers want and has worked really hard to create a new network with improved routes.
“I’m delighted, for example, that the direct service between Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and Maidstone has been restored.
“The number of buses to Tunbridge Wells Hospital, Knights Park, Showfields and Ramslye have also been increased, which is great news.
“Arriva is to be commended for its commitment to the local community.”
Oliver Monahan, Area Managing Director for Arriva Kent and Surrey, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have Greg visit our new depot and give us his thoughts on the network changes.
“The feedback of local councillors and our customers is not only important to the team here at Arriva, but is also the start of some brilliant service updates that we hope will really improve the passenger experience in the Tunbridge Wells area.
“We would like to thank Greg for attending today. It’s great to have him on board in celebrating and promoting the improvements to local bus services.”
Arriva chose to name two of its buses after Sarah Hamilton, Councillor for Paddock Wood, and Carol Mackonochie, Councillor for Five Oak Green and parts of Pembury.
An Arriva spokesperson said: “The gesture was to recognise the fact that the two women have gone above and beyond to help deliver a better service for Arriva’s customers and communicate the launch of service No 6.”
The No 6 was one of a number of service routes in rural areas, linking East Peckham with Maidstone, and connecting Five Oak Green with Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and East Peckham.