My mum lives in London and often asks if she can use her Freedom pass to come and visit me. Not being the eligible age (which is now 65) I didn’t know. So did the research for her, and I’m now sharing it with you.
Can you use a Freedom Pass in Brighton? Holders of a Freedom Pass with a red rose symbol on the top left side of their cards, can use their pass for catching all local buses in Brighton between 9.30 am and 11 pm Mondays-Fridays and without any restrictions on weekends.
So, all cities in the UK, including Brighton, take part to a national concessionary scheme which allows you to travel by bus within every city in the UK merely with your Freedom pass. There is this small time-restriction, the off-peak times, but you can always take advantage of it by just sleeping a couple of hours more in the morning. This sounds like great news!
But although this answer seems straightforward and clear, it must have left you with a lot of questions that have to do with what happens with the other means of transportation in Brighton and the possibilities of using the pass there. There are also some fishy terms like this rose symbol or the word “local” buses.
There are indeed a few catches to it that you should be aware of and they are exactly what we will be discussing in this article. We will be explaining those dubious terms and we will also clarify on which means of transportation the card is valid in Brighton, how far it can get you on your way to Brighton and also if it can take you to other places in the broader area around it.
Let’s start with that rose symbol. What does it mean if you don’t have it on your Freedom pass, and will you be able to move for free or with a discount in Brighton without it?
What if my Freedom Pass doesn’t have the Rose Symbol?
That rose symbol on your Freedom Pass is precisely the symbol of the National Concessionary scheme that I mentioned before, which allows you to travel with buses in places outside London. If you don’t have it on your pass, it probably means that you are a Discretionary Freedom Pass Holder for disabilities that don’t meet the official eligibility criteria (eg mental health problems).
And what it means, unfortunately, is that you cannot use your pass outside London and that doesn’t exclude Brighton. You will have to buy normal tickets without receiving any discounts.
But let’s assume that your Freedom Pass does include it. Can it take you for free to Brighton?
Can I get from London to Brighton with my Freedom Pass?
Although you can go around in Brighton tapping on and off with your Freedom Pass, unfortunately, you cannot use it to travel from London to Brighton neither by train nor by a coach of the National Express. The London Council’s website doesn’t play around the bush about it and clearly states that you will have to buy a separate extension ticket when travelling outside the boundaries where the Freedom Pass is valid, or you will be fined.
More information about Freedom Passes you can find following this link to the London’s Council site.
You cannot even approach Brighton with your Freedom pass, meaning coming to Gatwick Airport with it, since it is not valid in the Gatwick Express line. This might come as a surprise considering that a Freedom Pass is a variation of an Oyster Card which could normally take you till Gatwick Airport, from where you get the chance to catch a much cheaper train/coach to Brighton.
So, no other choice remaining than buying a ticket. I realise that this is a bit of a bummer, but I have better news coming up for you shortly.
Can I Catch the Train in Brighton with my Freedom Pass?
Although in London the Freedom Pass can be used for every possible means of transporting (including River Services or even discounts in Emirates airline), in all other cities of the scheme, including Brighton, the pass can only be used for buses. So, the truth is that to catch a train in Brighton isn’t a possibility and you will be fined if you get caught doing so.
In Brighton’s case though this isn’t much of a disaster. The amount of train stations in Brighton is small, 4 to be exact (Brighton Main train station, Moulsecoomb Station, Preston Park, London Road Train Station) and are mainly being used as disembarkation points for outbound trips and not for inside the city transportation.
So, the bright side is that you won’t need to use the trains since the bus system is the main mean of public transportation in Brighton and has a very extended route plan indeed. As far as the tube is concerned, or the over-ground services, stop searching for them because Brighton doesn’t have them at all.
Plus, for those of you who are visiting Brighton for a small weekend getaway, the main sights/ points of interest in the city are all in walking, or even better cycling (check out Brighton Bike Tours) distance between each other. For example, Brighton Pier, The Royal Palace, I360 and Brighton Station are all just a 20-minute walk between one another.
Now we’ve settled this we can move to our next concern.
Another word that might be a bit cloudy and affect where you will actually be able to use the pass is the term “local” buses. What are those and how is this going to affect your trip?
Although the answer to that might seem self-evident -the buses which do routes inside the city- it can be more complicated than that.
Because according to what a local bus definition includes, that can mean that the routes are restricted strictly to lines inside the city center, forcing you to pay for a ticket for a slightly remoter distance, or on the other hand it might even give you the chance to explore the broader area a little bit even do some day trips with Brighton as a starting point.
Which Buses are the local Buses in Brighton?
You would be pleasantly surprised to find out that all of the bus lines of the Brighton/Hove bus operation are registered as local bus routes and can take you to places outside the city and more than that to places of interest around, which you would like to see or you were planning to combine and visit too anyway.
If you follow this link you can find a complete and detailed list of the buses of the Brighton & Hove company and on which your pass is valid.
Where can I go from Brighton with my Freedom Pass?
So, your Freedom Pass can get you for free in various and worth going places in West and East Sussex with Brighton as a starting point. Our picks for today would be:
- First and foremost, with catching the 13X, 12X, 12/12A lines, Seaford is 45m ride. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Seaford is the closest town to the infamous Seven Sisters Cliffs and Cuckmere Haven, whose white surfaces make them the most breathtaking geological feature of Sussex.
- Taking a bus from Brighton city center can also take you to Devil’s Dyke, once described as ‘The most beautiful place on earth’ by the painter John Constable. The 77 line from palace Pier will take you there, to enjoy the panoramic view of the South Downs and hot drinks in the pub on a rainy day.
- Lewes, the very picturesque town with its small twittens and its 18th-century castle, is also an option, catching the Regency 28, 29, 29B, 29X lines. Note: Lewes is great to be visiting on Guy Fawkes Night when spectacular bonfire celebrations take place.
- With no less than 6 lines (12, 12A, 12X, 14A, 14B, 14C) one can go to Newhaven. Newhaven is a small town, but it has an important 19th Century Fort, which is definitely worth seeing.
Other honourable mentions where your pass can take you are western to Brighton eg Portslade, Shoreham and more to the East eg, Saltdean, and basically all the way up to Eastbourne.
Not too shabby! The privileges of the Freedom Pass almost make one want to reach the age of sixty faster in order to be eligible for it and get all these concessions when travelling right? What, No?
What’s for sure though is, that despite the fact that your Freedom pass won’t bring you to Brighton. It will be able to transport you effortlessly and for free all-round the city and beyond, giving you the chance to explore more!