An eye-catching Mercedes-Benz Citaro bendybus designed to promote positivity on Brighton & Hove Buses’ university route 25 will be unveiled at Sussex University on Wednesday next week.
Around 700 Sussex University students voted on two designs by local artist Lois O’Hara, who is known for using bold colours and wavy patterns to help people feel energised and improve well-being, in a project commissioned by Brighton & Hove Buses. The clear winner was the artist’s distinctive wave design in pink, blue and orange.
O’Hara approached Brighton & Hove Buses because she wanted a large-scale canvas on which to promote positive mental health, a theme which often comes up in her work, as do motion and fluidity. “It was just a natural connection, really. The fact the bus moves around is a visual tie-in and a bendybus is even better,” she says. “I hope it will encourage people to get on the bus and hopefully they’ll want to talk to people on the bus.
“I was shocked that so many people voted. I think people liked the ability to have a say. It was a really good idea.”
Brighton & Hove Impetus and Sussex University student counsellors will provide a walk-in advice service on the day for students suffering from loneliness.
An October 2018 UK study found that 16 to 24-year-olds were more likely to report feeling lonely than older people, with 40%, saying they felt lonely often or very often, compared with 29% of 65 to 74-year-olds and 27% of those aged over 75.
These numbers are no surprise to Sussex University student Roxanne Lavanchy. “Starting university and studying can be very stressful and isolating,” she says. “It can seem as if everyone is having a wonderful time when you are struggling. If you are feeling lonely and isolated, talk to a friend, to family or someone at university. You are not alone!”
The new bus will be revealed on Wednesday 20 March, during Sussex University’s One World Week celebrations. The bus and the artist will be there from 11.00 to 15.00.
Brighton & Hove Buses’ managing director Martin Harris says: “I hope this exciting project will get people talking to each other on the way to university, whether that’s on the bus or elsewhere, and help connect people who are struggling, to local support services.”