More cuts to the 74 bus service

WSCC have announced further cuts to subsidised bus services, including to the 74 service which is the only current daily service through central Thakeham and rural areas along the B2139 corridor.  We now think that the residual 74 service in central Thakeham will look like this (probably effective sometime in April 2019):

Northwards (Horsham-bound): Mon-Fri:   0659 [sole daily service]; plus Thurs:  0941 + 1353; Sat/Sun:  no service.

Southwards (Storrington-bound): Mon-Fri: 1713 [sole daily service]; plus Thurs: 1329 and 1459; Sat/Sun:  no service.

This will leave residents of Thakeham and Shipley parishes with a materially worse service than at present, with only one option for getting to/from Horsham and no return service at all to our local ‘hub’ village of Storrington.  Thakeham will also be worse-affected than surrounding areas, as other local villages (Storrington, West Chiltington, Washington and Ashington) will be left in a slightly better position in terms of alternative services.  As Thakeham PC and residents made strong submissions to WSCC’s consultation process specifically seeking to avoid further cuts, we are extremely disappointed.  We know the financial reasoning but the upshot does not seem fair to Thakeham residents and it will clearly worsen the situation for vulnerable residents without private vehicle access, and implies even more environmentally damaging private car journeys.

The PC is looking at what can be done to limit this damage. Unfortunately it seems clear that the costs of reinstating additional daily 74 services are prohibitively high to be carried by our own resources.  However, we are engaging WSCC in discussion of other possible mitigating options in relation to both weekdays and/or Saturdays.  For instance, there are models elsewhere in the district for subsidised ‘shared taxi’ schemes, which may be worth exploring for the Thakeham area – we are investigating how the existing scheme operates and what the financial arrangements are.

We are also still pursuing the idea of extending the Storrington-based West Sussex Community Minibus scheme to serve Thakeham, although coming up with a financially sustainable model for this is proving challenging.  The different community transport models serve different needs: a local ‘on-demand’ minibus or taxi-voucher system may help some groups, whereas a regular scheduled service has a different clientele.  The PC needs all the information it can get in terms of what the local needs/priorities are.

If you use the 74 bus regularly and will be affected by the changes above, please email to tell us where you go and why, to inform our work. Likewise, if you have a definite sense of what kind of extra service would benefit you,  please tell us about it. Thanks in advance

Owen Richards
Parish Clerk