THE troubled number 47 bus service is set to keep running in the short term after 11th hour talks.
The peak time service is due to stop with the end of the Yeovil College term on Saturday – leaving commuters who need to get to Yeovil for work stranded.
But after an anonymous donor offered to keep the bus running temporarily, Dorset County Council agreed to approve short-term route registration to enable Damory to put on a service.
The offer was channelled through the Western Area Transport Group.
Adam Keen, operations manager for Damory, said: “Dorset County Council has confirmed that First is not interested in running that route so on that basis they are prepared to support the short notice registration for the Damory service.”
Mr Keen said as they only had confirmation yesterday it would be difficult to get the service running as the current one is withdrawn on Saturday.
He said: “Whether we can put a timetable and get it all together in time for Monday I could not say.
“The county council support was the one hurdle we were not able to overcome by ourselves now we can look at doing something as soon as possible.
“We will be doing our utmost to get the service up and running as soon as is humanly possible.
“The formal offer from the benefactor has not been put in writing.
“Based on what the offer is, that will determine how long we can operate the service for.
“What we hope to do is provide a Yeovil service long-term – something a bit more concrete but until we get the service up and running and see what the levels of patronage are like, which we currently don’t know because we haven’t run it before.
“But I am confident about it. I don’t see anything in the way which is massive.
A spokesman for Dorset County council said DCC had not originally supported the donation because it takes 56 days for DCC to approve a commercial bus registration through the traffic commissioner.
The spokesman said Jan Stevenson, DCC passenger transport manager, had given First a deadline of lunchtime on Wednesday to come up with a quote for the service.
The county council spokesman added: “If First don’t respond she is going to support a short-notice commercial bus registration which will allow this donation to keep a Damory bus route running for a further few weeks. Even though we would support this short notice we couldn’t get involved in any of the finances that would purely be between campaign group Watag – Western Area Transport Action Group – and Damory which is the bus company that wants to take the route over with this donation.”
The no 47 bus issue is going to be discussed in exempt business by the cabinet on July 2.
A spokesman for First said the 47 service was being withdrawn because it was ‘just not viable to run anymore.’
Dorset County Councillor Ros Kayes, has been involved in negotiations to keep the 47 running said she understood the peak time service is up to five times more expensive to run.
She added: “The county council do not want to have any role in private contracting of the service because it is taking the position that it is only going to subsidise the service it has a statutory accountability for. There is a lot of brinkmanship but I really hope Damory can sort something out about what is happening over the next week because obviously people need to get to work.”
Alan Williams of Watag said the bureaucratic delays had jeopardised the deal.
“We haven’t time to play around like this.”