Bus service to be slashed

JPCT 280212 Reduced service for the 921 Metrobus. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 280212 Reduced service for the 921 Metrobus. Photo by Derek Martin

SHOPPERS and gym users have just two weeks before parts of the 921 service face the axe and start operating two days instead of five days a week.

The Metrobus service, which runs between Horsham Bus Station in Worthing Road and Broadbridge Heath’s Tesco and leisure centre, will run on Tuesdays and Fridays only from March 19, after Tesco asked the bus company to revise the service.

The timetable switch was published this week after Metrobus staff were informed last week.

Dave Westlake, 34, from Oakhill, uses the gym to rehab his osteoarthritic ankle, and relies on the bus route dropping him right outside the leisure centre.

“It’s all becoming pathetic,” he said. “This is useless, pointless and has become a joke now that they’re really making people suffer. It’s all down to money at the end of the day.”

Simon Petar, regional corporate affairs manager for Tesco, said: “We regularly review our bus services and we believe the new timetable will better reflect when the route is used.

“We understand some people will be disappointed. We look forward to providing the service on a Tuesday and a Friday.”

Mr Westlake, who struggles to walk on his ankle after nine operations since 2001, says the bus is a lifeline for the less mobile who rely exclusively on public transport, such as gym users, pensioners and even Tesco staff.

“This is my way of getting back into civilisation, or I’ll be shut off since I’m out of work,” he said.

“The staff at Broadbridge Heath are unbelievable, and the people who go there are such a tight-knit community.”

Nick Hill, commercial manager for Metrobus, said: “We operate the 921 service on behalf of Tesco, who pay for the service and specify the service level on it.

“We can confirm that Tesco have asked us to revise the service to operate on Tuesdays and Fridays only, to a revised timetable. This will take effect from March 19. However, several other bus services will continue to operate between Broadbridge Heath and Horsham town centre.”

Roger Law, 63, from Horsham, who uses the bus to get to Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre’s Over 50s group on Thursdays, said he felt ‘a bit guilty’ for using the service, but did also use the Tesco store.

This comes as West Sussex County Council announced it was slashing £2m from bus subsidies, which it claims will affect less than ten per cent of bus journeys made in the county.