Concerns over cuts to Horsham bus services

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Concerns are being voiced by people in Horsham over cuts and changes to bus services in the town.

Travel firm Metrobus is to introduce a number of changes to routes from April 27.

Under its new timetable, Metrobus will operate its last bus of the day on the No 65 route from Horsham to Oakhill at 4.38pm instead of the current 5.38pm.

One upset resident who lives in Orchard Road and uses the No 65 said: “I don’t drive so I rely on public transport. I use the bus every day, along with people coming home from work.

“I depend on the service, along with lots of other people.”

She has written to Brighton and Hove Buses which operates Metrobus routes, West Sussex County Council and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin outlining her concerns.

Other buses affected are the No 23 Horsham to Worthing route; the No 51 The Common to North Heath, Horsham; the No 61 Horsham to North Heath and the No 98 Roffey to Southwater.

Horsham District Councillor Christine Costin said a lot of people in the Trafalgar area of Horsham depneded on the No 51 service. She called for more bus routes to be subsidised by West Sussex County Council to encourage bus travel. “The changes taking place are a commercial decision.

“In some ways West Sussex County Council should be offering a subsidy to make sure that people get the service they need.

“Plainly the new timetables have reduced the number and times that buses are available, leaving less time for choices.” She urged people to write to the bus company with their views.

Metrobus says that many of its services operate commercially with no council subsidies but that some subsidies had been withdrawn by the county council.

A spokesman said: “These journeys are very lightly used. The main level of service in the off-peak period is unchanged.”

And Metrobus’ commercial director Nick Hill said: “We regret that there are some lightly used journeys on route 51 which will no longer be viable following changes to bus routes in the Horsham area from 27 April.

“Some journeys on route 51 are operated by a bus which also currently operates on route 65. Following the withdrawal of West Sussex County Council’s financial support for route 65, the bus used to operate these journeys will no longer be supported and as a result we will no longer be able to economically operate some peak-time journeys on route 51.

“Route 51 will continue to operate during the main off-peak period (9.24am-2.02pm), when the vast majority of passengers travel.

“Affected passengers in the North Heath and Holbrook areas will still have a regular link between these areas and the town centre on route 200.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result of the changes.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “The majority of bus services in West Sussex are run commercially but some routes receive funding from the county council to help them run: We know how important bus services are to residents and we are continuing to provide £2.27million in bus service subsidies.

“In the majority of cases where there are route changes, an alternative bus is available fairly nearby.

“There has been a real community effort and ongoing hard work to try to limit the impact of changes as much as possible - bus operators, district and parish councils and community groups have been working with us on this.”