Bus cuts planned for Mid Sussex show a ‘lack of understanding of residents’ wishes and environmental short-sightedness’ according to the Lib Dems.
Most bus services in the county are commercially operated, but some routes receive West Sussex County Council funding to help them run.
Last year the council agreed to cut its subsidies by £300,000 to £2.27million a year and adopted a bus strategy for 2018 to 2026.
Now it has revealed which services will be cut or changed from April onwards.
COMPASS TRAVEL 36 A/C BURGESS HILL TOWN SERVICES: To be withdrawn and replaced with 100 service running from A2300 via Jane Murray Way south. 100 will continue to operate in Victoria Industrial Estate peak times and change route to serve York Rd, Charles Ave, Chanctonbury Rd off peak.
COMPASS TRAVEL 89 HORSHAM - HAYWARDS HEATH: Withdrawal of Saturday services. Off-peak service reduced to run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only and return bus from Horsham leaves earlier at 13.00. Buses run on Mondays to Fridays between Cuckfield, Haywards Heath and Franklands Reed Pond Walk in conjunction with route 62.
COMPASS TRAVEL 100 HORSHAM - BURGESS HILL: Changes to off peak routing in west Burgess Hill to provide alternative for some 36 passengers when it is withdrawn in the town.
METROBUS 270 EAST GRINSTEAD - BRIGHTON: 18.35 East Grinstead service to only run as far as Forest Row.
COMPASS TRAVEL 62 HAYWARDS HEATH - CRAWLEY: Daytime service revised to run between Franklands Village, Haywards Heath and Crawley and operate on Tuesdays & Thursdays only. On Mondays to Fridays there will be an additional journey from Balcombe to Haywards Heath at 09.00 returning at 1405, with Concessionary passes valid on the 09.00. Service 62 journeys to Warden Park School at school times continue unchanged.
Lib Dem Kirsty Lord, county councillor for Hassocks and Burgess Hill South, said: “Residents repeatedly tell us that they want better services so that they can get around more easily. Buses are more environmentally friendly than cars and can reduce road congestion.
“These cuts show a lack of understanding of resident’s wishes and environmental short-sightedness”
Alison Bennett, the Lib Dems’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Arundel and South Downs, added: “In a rural constituency like Arundel & South Downs it cannot be overestimated how important bus services are. Cutting bus services may save money from the council’s bottom line, but it will deepen the very real but all too often hidden problem of rural poverty.”
Roger Elkins, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “We have been working really hard to try to limit the impact this will have for passengers and I would like to thank the bus operators, district and parish councils and community groups who have been working with us on this.
“It’s important to stress that we are continuing to subsidise bus services in the county and, in the majority of cases where there are route changes, an alternative bus will be available fairly nearby.
“Last year, our bus user survey received more than 4,300 responses and we have been using this to help understand which services were of the greatest benefit to residents, so we could do everything possible to minimise the effect of the changes.
“Before the changes happen, we will be working with local communities to see what can be done to help any residents who don’t have alternative transport.”
If community organisations want to get involved to help they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lib Dem Kate O’Kelly, county councillor for Midhurst, who has lead the opposition to the cuts said: “Young people getting to school and college, working age people getting to work and our elderly residents all rely on our buses.
“There is a real chance that this decision will lead to more social isolation which will cost the Council more in the long run.”