Crisis-hit transport service ‘back in action soon’

Horsham District Community Transport minibuses SUS-170815-143501001
Horsham District Community Transport minibuses SUS-170815-143501001

A community transport company which suddenly ceased services across Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex now hopes to be back in action next week.

Disabled children, wheelchair users, stroke patients and elderly people found themselves left in the lurch when services run by Community Transport Sussex were halted without warning earlier this month.

Now the firm - which incorporates Bluebird Community Transport, including The Henfield Community Bus and Hurst and Hassocks Community Bus, Horsham District Community Transport and Crawley Community Transport - says it will be resuming its Dial-A-Ride and ‘selected other services’ by August 29.

In a statement today, Community Transport Sussex said: “The temporary suspension of services was due to a re-interpretation of the national guidance under which community transport operators run, issued by the Department of Transport.”

The company said it had received differing guidance from various authorities which “led us to the view that Community Transport Sussex may not be compliant with legislation regarding the permits under which we operate.

“As such we could not be confident that our insurance cover was valid, until we had clarification about the new interpretation of this national guidance.

“It has taken some days to do this but, after working closely with West Sussex County Council, we now have that clarification and can recommence most of our services

“We did not take the decision to suspend our services lightly but could not, in good faith, send out our drivers and vehicles to carry passengers, when we could not be sure that the drivers were correctly licenced and the vehicles adequately insured.

“The interpretation of guidance under which we run has been accepted by the Department for Transport, local authorities and other statutory bodies since it was first issued in 1985. The sudden re-interpretation of the guidance has taken the entire Community Transport sector by surprise and created an enormous problem for operators across the UK.

“Community Transport Sussex looks forward to contacting all of our service users and groups over the coming weeks and transporting them on a regular basis again very soon.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to our members but we had to ensure that we were compliant before we resumed our operations.”