Is this the best bus in the world? TV Reverend Richard Coles thinks so leading to battle of buses

Tap to watch a video report by ITV News Meridian's James Dunham who took a trip on the number 12 bus

TV presenter and former vicar Reverend Richard Coles has told ITV News he stands by his decision to describe a bus service in East Sussex as the ‘best in the world’.

Richard, who recently moved to the county, gave high praise to the number 12 route which runs between Brighton and Eastbourne.

In a tweet to more than 450,000 followers, the post said “the number twelve from Eastbourne to Brighton is without any wisp of a doubt the best bus IN THE WORLD.”

That led to an online battle of the buses with people commenting their own suggestions of routes that they think are at the top, such as the number 40 or 50 breezer across the Purbecks in Dorset and the number 6 from Carisbrooke Castle and riding to Alum Bay.

In a video recorded for ITV News, Reverend Richard Coles stood by his support for number 12,

"I understand I have caused some controversy by stating I think, with justice that the number 12 bus routes and its variants from Brighton to Eastbourne and back again is the finest bus in the world.

"Now, I say this not only because it chugs along very nicely and there is lovely panoramic scenes to be enjoyed from the top deck and free Wi-Fi, but also because it's simply massively convenient for me, because it stops at the end of my road and drops off at my favourite supermarket and takes me home again. So beat that."

‘It’s something to look forward to’

Filming onboard the service, operated by Brighton and Hove buses, it’s not hard to see the appeal.

The number 12, and it’s variants the 12X (a faster service) and the 12A attract around 3.5 million people every year and the large appeal is the stunning scenery.

Cuckmere Haven, one of the beauty spots, which the 12 bus route cuts through Credit: ITV News Meridian

Cutting through the South Downs National Park, the route takes in Cuckmere Haven and Seven Sisters and provides a more environmentally friendly way to visit the beauty spots.

Hayley Elliott has been driving the coastal service for five years and wouldn’t have it any other way,

"Quite often I will overhear people say at a specific point wow’ so that is amazing hearing them enjoy it just as much. Nothing compares. Absolutely nothing.

"There's a lot of love for this bus route, I feel quite proud to be driving them, because, I mean, who wouldn't want to?"

Watch: Passengers give their verdict on route 12

Brighton and Hove Buses hopes the chatter of bus routes online translates to people getting out and using local buses.

Passengers numbers are still recovering following the pandemic.

"There's always a good bit of healthy competition for the what is the best bus routes. Obviously, the 12 is the best possible route, but I'm sure there's lots of others out there that could be a contender", says Ed Willis, Brighton and Hove Buses managing director.

"The really important thing is that people go out and just experience the local bus routes and go have a day out and use the bus. Across the across the country, bus operators are really, really keen with all these beautiful bus routes across the country, particularly the number 12, it would be great if people could go on a local day out."