Town council offers lifeline to essential bus service

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AN axed Lyme Regis bus has been thrown a lifeline after the town council stepped in to run a temporary partial service.

Elderly and vulnerable people will continue to have access to essential services when the 71 town bus service is scrapped later this month following county council cuts.

Dorset County Council announced in February it would cut bus services across the county in a bid to save £1.85million from its public and schools’ transport budget. The county council is withdrawing its subsidy of the 71 bus and the service will end on July 24th.

However, Lyme Regis Town Council has now announced it will run a temporary register-to-ride bus service for the summer, because of the time required to register a public bus service, until a more permanent and viable solution can be found.

The town council set aside £12,000 in its 2017/18 budget in anticipation of cuts to the service and has now committed up to £4,000 to run the temporary service.

Councillor Cheryl Reynolds, chairman of the Tourism, Community and Publicity Committee, said: “The town council recognises this is a vital service in Lyme Regis. “Although the service will be available to anyone who registers to ride, it will be especially helpful to older residents and those with limited mobility who rely on the bus to get into town.

“Not only does it allow them to do the essentials like food shopping, picking up their pension and attending medical appointments, but it also allows them to meet friends, socialise and stay active.

“The town council is extremely disappointed the 71 bus has become a victim of county council funding cuts. There has been support from the whole council to try and find a solution to this problem.

“The town council is committed to serving all sectors of the community. While we appreciate this is a different service to what residents are used to, we hope it will ensure people who rely on this bus will still be able to get out and about.

“I must stress this is a temporary solution for the summer, which the council, with the support of LymeForward, has worked very quickly to get in place for July 24th when the town bus service ends, to avoid residents being without a service completely.

“In the meantime, the council is continuing to look at more viable long-term options to secure the future of this essential community bus service.”

The community bus service will run between Tuesday, July 25th and Friday, September 1st and will follow a similar route to the 71 bus. The bus, which will be operated by Dorset Community Transport (DCT), will run on Tuesdays and Fridays, with two return journeys from 10am.

Passengers must initially register to travel with DCT and book a seat on the 16-seat accessible minibus in advance of travel. Bookings cannot be made more than seven days in advance of travel and must be made by 2.30pm before the day of travel.

To register and to book a seat, call DCT on 01258 287980 or email dorset@ectcharity.co.uk.

Anyone who would like more information and timetables is invited to attend an information event at Hallett Court in Queen’s Walk, on Wednesday, July 19th at 10.30am.

Lyme Regis editor & Colyton reporter | Francesca gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University before joining the paper full-time in 2011. She is now editor of the Lyme Regis edition, as well as a sub-editor on the East Devon and South Somerset editions, and reporter for Colyton.

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