Anger at infrequent bus service for new neighbourhood

Residents at Crawley’s newest neighbourhood have expressed anger and frustration at infrequent bus services.

Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey are currently building 1,900 homes at the new Forge Wood development in the north east of the town, with more than 300 already occupied.

Metrobus runs the 27 service between Forge Wood and Crawley Bus Station, via Three Bridges Railway Station, with only eight round trip journeys currently timetabled during the week, with even fewer at weekends.

The new residents have criticised both the infrequency of the service and the information available to them on how or when this might be improved.

Avril Momoh, who lives with her husband, two children, and mother-in-law in Forge Wood, said: “We feel a combination of frustration and anger at being let down and disappointed.”

Residents have argued that conditions attached to the planning application for the Forge Wood development show that a subsidy paid by the developers should guarantee a frequent service until it becomes self sufficient as more homes are built.

The last weekday bus from Forge Wood leaves at 2.45pm, while no services leave Crawley between 12.30pm and 4.45pm.

After finishing school her 14-year-old son has an ‘unacceptably long’ wait for a bus back home, while she suggested the current timetable encourages Forge Wood residents to drive in their own cars to work rather than using public transport.

Meanwhile those without cars often have to rely on taxis to do their shopping or get to appointments at either hospitals or doctors’ surgeries.

She along with several other residents, including Steve Earthy, have been attempting to find out more information since January with little success.

Residents have suggested an extension to existing routes such as the 5 or 10, or a more frequent 27 service during peak hours in the morning and evening.

Ms Momoh described how they were ‘totally in the dark’ and were ‘banging their heads against a brick wall’ trying to get information on when more buses might be provided.

She added: “We feel isolated. There are no nearby shops. If there is no bus you can only go there if you drive.”

Mr Earthy, who moved into the development in 2015 and lives with his wife and young son, has spent hours chasing the different organisations for information, and described communication as ‘poor’ with no official channels to go through.

He said: “It’s frustrating because it should not be like this. Everybody is paid to do a job and people are not delivering what they are paid to do.

“It’s not for the likes of me and others to spend our own time sorting this out because somebody is not doing their job properly.”

He added: “It’s just disappointing we are not kept in the loop at all.”

A joint statement from the developers said: “Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey have been in detailed discussions with both Crawley Borough Council and the bus operator.

“It is expected that buses will service the route with an increased frequency within the next few months, pending formal approval.

“This will be an enhanced service for the new development and the local community and will provide more regular connections to the wider area, including both Gatwick Airport and the town centre.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “There is currently no arrangement in place involving the county council for a bus service serving Forge Wood. The current, private arrangement is between the site developers and Metrobus for the provision of the bus service 27.

“Any bus service review needs to be organised between the relevant parties, ie Crawley Borough Council, the developers and Metrobus. We understand the bus company has been in recent discussions with the developers and the borough council to secure the funds required to improve the service and a potential way forward has now been agreed with the developers.

“We also understand that Metrobus is hoping to make improvements from early in the New Year but this relies on the developers and the borough council formally approving the details of the proposal.”

A Metrobus spokesman said: ‘‘We are currently in discussion with the developers and Crawley Borough Council to improve the bus service to Forge Wood.’’

Crawley Borough Council has been approached for comment.