FURIOUS residents have lashed out at a new bus timetable which will "hurt the elderly community” and “impact children using public transport to get to school”.

Arriva has overhauled his bus timetable across Southend in a bid to improve the “reliability” but cuts to the number 9 service between Rayleigh and Shoebury have upset residents.

Previously, buses ran every 15 minutes but under the new timetable there will only be buses every half hour.

The bus firm has pointed the finger at “low usage” but the East Beach Residents Association have launched a petition calling for buses every 15 minutes between East Beach and Asda, in North Shoebury Road, to be re-introduced.

East Beach Residents Association spokesman and former councillor, Tricia Cowdrey, believes the service is “vital”.

She said: “To hear this has been very distressing. Two buses an hour isn’t good enough. We have parents worried about getting their kids to school, we have people using that stretch for work.

“The whole community is affected by this and we are meant to be encouraging our older population to meet and socialise and be healthy, but by taking those two buses an hour away, it hurts that.

“The saddest thing is that there has been no consultation with residents. It has been sprung on us.”

Ms Cowdrey added she is personally affected by the changes as well, as she does not drive.

An Arriva South spokesman said: “From July 28, the service will be every 15 minutes, Monday to Saturday, between Rayleigh, Southend and Shoebury Asda, but will then split so that it is half-hourly to Shoebury East Beach and the same to Wakering.

“The Sunday level of service will not change.”

Arriva claimed there has not been enough “customer demand” to justify buses every 15 minutes on the remainder of the route.

The spokesman added: “The section of route seeing a slightly reduced service is between the Renown and East Beach.

“Usage of the service on this section is low, as passengers also use a frequent train service.

“We’ve made these changes as there is simply not enough customer demand in the area to support a combined service of eight departures an hour split between the train and bus services, resulting in low numbers using the bus.”

Visit change.org/p/stop-arriva-reducing-the-number-9-bus-services-to-east-shoeburyness