VOTE: Should existing levels of bus services be maintained?

People who depend on buses to travel into Chichester fear they will be left stranded after funding cuts to a number of evening and weekend bus services were confirmed.

West Sussex County Council announced the 55 route from Chichester to Tangmere, the Chichester to Selsey route 52/53 and the Chichester to Witterings route would all be affected, with changes due to take place in January 2012.

The changes – which are part of a phased, three-year plan – triggered a massive response to the consultation, with more than 6,000 people filling out the impact assessment.

Residents have described the cuts as savage and shortsighted, with many people saying the removal of evening and weekend services will result in people of all ages becoming isolated as well as going against work to encourage people out of their cars by increasing traffic and putting pressure on an already severely-congested road system and causing more pollution.

Tangmere parish councillor Philip Thomas said the impact of the cuts would be significant.

“Tangmere Parish Council is extremely disappointed by the news WSCC is going ahead with its swathe of cuts to public bus services.

“For the residents who live in our village without their own personal means of transport, the impact will be quite great as the parish has very, very few facilities of its own.

“It will, for a number of people, cut off visiting Chichester in the evening and also prevent evening visits to see relatives and friends who are in-patients at St Richard’s Hospital.”

The county council said it was actively working with bus companies to look for alternative ways to keep services running and Stagecoach, which runs the Tangmere, Selsey and Witterings services, said it was currently looking at detailed analysis to confirm whether it would be running any of the journeys as a commercial operation.

The company is expected to make an announcement by September 1 as to which journeys it will continue to operate.

Some cuts will take place in September, most in October, with more changes planned for next January.

A further decision will be made later this year on the second phase of reductions, due to take effect from April 2012, with a third and final phase due to be implemented in 2013.

WSCC said while it had reduced subsidies by £2m, a total of £2.7m still remained and it was keen to work with residents and community transport schemes. It has just created an online toolkit giving people who want to introduce or expand a service help and advice.

Last week county councillor Peter Jones, who represents Selsey, said: “I would have thought leaving Sunday public transport between two major hubs in the district would be essential for the benefit of its residents.”

Councillors have until 5pm today to call in the decision and have it reconsidered.

* People worried about cuts in their area should visit www.chichester.co.uk for more details on affected services.