Cowfold bus situation in context

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I WOULD like to acknowledge the strength of feeling and efforts made by members of the community in Cowfold who organised a public meeting regarding the No 86 bus last week, one route amongst several that are under consideration.

Whilst I appreciate the situation people are facing is difficult, I feel I should put the situation in some context.

As many of you are aware the County Council has to make savings of £79 million over the next three years.

No service is immune to the budget pressure and unfortunately a £2m reduction in bus subsidies is one of the ways we are planning to achieve this. That still leaves us spending £2.7 million a year subsidising bus journeys.

The subsidy on the route in question is currently more than £5 per day for each return journey - at a time when we are having to make cuts in services like youth clubs, day centres and many other essential services we are having to make some very tough choices indeed.

We are currently working with several bus companies and Warden Park to identify an alternative service for children who need to travel to school.

Inevitably this may mean parents will have to pay more – closer to the actual cost of providing this service, but a much better alternative than removing the service altogether.

We are also actively investigating other community transport options for residents and are keen to support the involvement of individuals or groups who could help.

I can assure you that I am listening, will continue to do so and confirm that no decisions have been made at this stage.

LIONEL BARNARD

Deputy Leader with responsibility for Highways and Transport

West Sussex County Council