TWO new bus services are to be run between Bridport and Yeovil, including a service to Bridport Hospital and more journeys to Yeovil, but only until the end of the year.
Users of the No 40 between Bridport and Yeovil have been calling on county councillors and bus operator First Wessex to improve the timetable – which offered no service to Bridport Hospital and cut off Netherbury, Broadwindsor and Gerrards Green in Beaminster – following Damory’s withdrawal of the service in July.
The new services are being introduced to replace the current service 40, which Dorset County Council and subsequently First Wessex have run since the withdrawal.
First Wessex will operate service 6 between Beaminster and Bridport Hospital, with one journey each way to and from Yeovil. The No 6 will run throughout the day between Monday and Friday.
For people studying and working in Yeovil, the county council will provide additional links between Yeovil and Bridport or Beaminster, with four return trips a day linking with the First Wessex timetable.
The council has worked with Dorset Healthcare to clear overhanging trees on Hospital Lane in Bridport, meaning double-decker buses can now run along the route to the hospital.
The county council service 40 will provide a journey between Bridport and Yeovil College via Broadwindsor and Mosterton starting at 7.30am from Monday to Friday. A return journey to Bridport will leave Yeovil at 5.15pm.
The service, which is being jointly funded by Yeovil College, will be in place until the end of the year.
This will give the council, college and local communities three months to understand the level of demand for the service and develop longer-term transport solutions, which could be community based.
Simon Newport, general manager of First Wessex, said: “We are pleased to see the new arrangements for this bus service.
“This is the best solution for this route, which will hopefully go a long way to securing its long term future, as well as meeting the needs of these communities.
“We hope that this change will encourage more people on to the bus.”
The county council is continuing to work with West Dorset communities to develop community transport solutions to fill in some of the gaps in the timetable for local villages in the area.
It is also working with the traffic commissioner to register the new services as quickly as possible and, pending registration, the new timetables will be published and start running in the next few weeks.
Cllr Rebecca Knox, leader of Dorset County Council and councillor for Beaminster, said: “We have been working with communities to meet travel needs of all ages, and I am pleased that we have been able to respond with a short-term solution.
“I am sincerely hoping that, if well used by local people, these services will continue, with a responsive community option offering flexibility and freedom for small villages to access the core bus network.
“We are encouraging communities to join forces to build further on the great work already underway to identify people’s travel needs.”
Cllr Ros Kayes, county councillor for Bridport, said: “I am particularly pleased to see that the Bridport Hospital bus stop is back on the timetable and would like to thank officers for their hard work in providing this solution.
“Now we need to work together to make a long term solution available and I urge residents to make good use of these buses in order to enable that to happen.”