|West Sussex County Council has already begun the search for a new bus operator to take over some services in the Horsham area, following an announcement today Monday (March 19) that Tillingbourne Buses has gone into receivership.|
The company will cease trading at the end of today. The County Council was given no prior notice that this would be happening.
Tillingbourne operate 12 contracts providing local bus services on the County Council's behalf at an annual cost of £180,000. These services are mainly in the Horsham District and include a number of services to schools in Horsham.
Today's announcement will have a serious impact on the Horsham area bus service. However, Aventa of Crawley has stepped in and will provide school-time journeys on routes 62 and 63 in Horsham from tomorrow morning.
West Sussex County Council is working closely with Surrey County Council – which has also been affected by the withdrawal of Tillingbourne's services – and is currently contacting bus operators to invite them to provide replacement services.
The service operated by Tillingbourne is currently out to tender since the company's contracts with the County Council expire in May 2001.
David Dewdney, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: "The County Council is doing all it can to make sure that these services can be replaced.
"I'm very disappointed that Tillingbourne did not give us any indication that they were in such financial trouble. Had they done this, we would have been prepared and had time to make better contingency plans.
"I would like to reassure bus users and parents of schoolchildren in the Horsham area that we are doing everything possible to make sure their services continue to run.
"I would add that the County Council is very grateful indeed to Aventa of Crawley who have stepped in to make sure that some of the school routes in Horsham continue to operate."
A special hotline number has been set up so users can find out whether their bus service is still operating.
The hotline number, from 8.30am to 5pm, is 01243 777556. Outside this time, the number will be 07768 122048