Tesco’s decision to axe its free shopping buses to its Chichester store has angered customers who say they will lose a vital lifeline.
The buses carrying passengers from Midhurst, Selsey, The Witterings, Emsworth and Petersfield will be cut from October 22.
Patricia Woodburn, who lives in Midhurst, has been using the Wednesday service nearly every week for seven years and has launched a petition calling on Tesco to keep the vital link.
“A lot of people are very upset about this,” she said. “For many it’s literally a lifeline and most of us are even willing to pay a small sum to keep it.”
She said the Midhurst bus was used by at least 15 people weekly: “This summer it has sometimes had 20 passengers and there have been times when it has been standing room only. It’s a well used service and people are spending money so Tesco is doing well out of it. The passengers don’t drive, many have no family to take them shopping, some have difficulty walking and, like me, don’t have a computer so we can’t shop online.”
Tesco is telling people to use mainline public services to Chichester bus station. There they can pick up the Tesco 48 daily free bus to the store, which will continue.
But Mrs Woodburn says this will pose difficulties for those who have difficulty walking and many will struggle with shopping bags.
Midhurst county councillor Dr Kate O’Kelly said: “It is very disappointing yet another service to the rural area is being withdrawn and at such short notice. These buses are a way the elderly and more vulnerable residents, without their own transport, are able to maintain their independence.”
A Tesco spokesman said: “Unfortunately the services are under-used and make a loss which means we are no longer able to provide them. Our priority now is to ensure our customers are aware of our decision and of all alternative routes so they are able to plan their journeys. We apologise for any inconvenience.”