Community bus timetable launched in Midhurst

The Midhurst Community Bus is launching its first new timetable since it started operating seven years ago.

The news comes as rural areas including Midhurst face the threat of losing bus services because West Sussex County Council plans to axe subsidies to some bus companies.

There have been warnings that passengers in rural areas may have to rely more and more on voluntary run community buses.

Chairman Nick Wheeler told the Observer: At a time when other bus operators are likely to be cutting their services and with the introduction of the car parking charges, we think that this will be of great to the people of Midhurst and the surrounding villages.”

The timetable , which is to be launched on March 1 will extend the community bus service to Little Midhurst and out as far as Milland.

Mr Wheeler said the new time table reflects changes in passenger patterns and requests for the service to be extended.

“In addition to its traditional stops, the bus will now provide a service to Milland on Wednesdays and to Little Midhurst on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“The community bus provides a friendly local bus service to Midhurst and the surrounding villages and is run by a not-for-profit organisation totally reliant on volunteers for its management and operation,” he added.

The service runs to a fixed timetable, with regular calls to the Medical Centre and Budgens. The 16-seater bus is also available for hire by local residents and organisations when there is bus and driver availability.

The Midhurst Community Bus currently had over thirty volunteers running the service, said Mr Wheeler, “but we are always looking for new recruits to help as drivers, escorts and in other support roles.”

Anybody who would spare one morning a month to help is asked to contact the group.

“We are the community bus for Midhurst and nearby villages - we rely on your support,” stressed Mr Wheeler.

“This could really be a case of ‘Use us or lose us’.

“Without your help we will be unable to serve those members of the Midhurst community who do not have access to a car.”

The timetable is available this week and community bus volunteers are arranging a distribution to all households in Midhurst before March 1.

Copies can also be obtained in Midhurst from the Information Centre, council offices, library, Riverbank Medical Centre and Budgens supermarket.