Shoreham to Lancing school bus service must remain, group says as survey launched

The Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing
The Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing

The only bus service between Shoreham and the Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing must be maintained, parent campaigners have said, as a survey into subsidised bus routes is launched.

The number 19A bus, which runs twice a day, is one of more than 40 subsidised bus services included in the survey by West Sussex County Council.

The survey aims to find out what impact any potential changes to the bus routes would have on users.

The county council said no decision had yet been made on the future of any of the services.

However the council, which spends £3.9m a year funding the bus services, is looking to reduce its spending due to ‘significant grant reductions from central government’ and said ‘tough decisions’ need to be made.

The 19A route is the only bus service that goes directly from Shoreham to the Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing, running once in the morning and once in the afternoon after school.

Parent campaign group Future Adur Schools Team (FAST) have said it is ‘essential’ the bus service is maintained as, with Shoreham Academy oversubscribed, more pupils in Shoreham are having to apply for secondary school places in Lancing.

READ MORE: Lancing school considers catchment area extension into Shoreham

Alastair Reid, a member of FAST, called for the 19A service to run more frequently.

He said: “We are told that a local place at a local school is no longer assured for Shoreham parents, and we must look further afield for secondary school places.

“With this in mind it is essential that transport provision to schools further away is not just maintained but enhanced.

“Crucially this doesn’t just mean before and after school but also allows for transport after after-school clubs.

“The 19A bus service is a critical part of this equation as the only bus service that goes direct from Shoreham to Sir Robert Woodard, but only goes once in the morning and once after school at the moment.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman confirmed the 19A school journey was one of the routes included in the bus survey.

“The 19A hasn’t been listed separately in the survey because this school journey is part of the 19 route,” the spokesman said.

“We have ensured paper copies of the survey are available for people to take and fill-in on the entire route, including during the 19A part.”

The county council said that removing a subsidy would not necessarily mean the end of a service and said it was working with bus companies and other stakeholders to look at possible alternatives.

It urges anyone who uses any of the subsidised bus routes to have their say in the survey before Sunday, November 18.

Roger Elkins, county council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “We recently held a Bus Strategy Consultation, with an excellent response and I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond.

“Now we would like to know more about how people use our supported bus routes.”

“Most routes in West Sussex are operated by bus companies on a commercial basis, and these are not part of this survey.

“However, some routes receive a subsidy from the county council to help them run.”

The survey is available online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/buses

The decision on the future of any bus routes will be taken in late 2018, with any changes as a result of this decision to be made in 2019/2020.

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