COMMUTERS are celebrating the return of a ‘crucial’ bus service following a month-long battle.
Bus operator Damory have this week announced they are extending their number 40 service to run between Bridport and Yeovil at peak times all year round.
The changes will start from Monday, July 28.
It follows months of anxiety after the 47 service was axed by bus operator First.
Dorset County Councillor Ros Kayes, who has been involved in negotiations to keep the service running, said the news is ‘fabulous’.
Thanking everyone who has worked on the campaign, she added: “I’ve been overwhelmed with emails and personal stories about this service.
“It’s been a hard fought battle but it goes to show that if you don’t give up you can change things. I’d like to thank Damory also for plugging the funding gap, which is really good news for the long term viability of this service.
“This has been a long campaign and I’m delighted we have saved the weekday daytime and the peak-time service in its entirety.”
The service will now operate from Bridport, stopping at Melplash, Beaminster, Broadwind-sor, Mosterton, Misterton, Crew-kerne Station, Crewkerne and Yeovil. Dorset County Council will subsidise peak time services from Monday to Friday during term time – with Damory funding off-peak journeys from Monday to Friday and all day Saturday.
A spokesperson for Damory said: “We know how eager customers in the region are for the service to be extended – particularly those needing to reach the college – and we have been working hard behind the scenes to make this happen.
“The views of local people are incredibly important to us because we need to know they will make good use of an extended route before we can give it the go-ahead.
“We are always looking for ways to enhance our service wherever possible. And I’m delighted that we are able to do so in this instance.”
“In this case, the demand was particularly strong for a route out to Yeovil, following the decision by another operator to cease its number 47 service.”
Commuters and students were given a temporary lifeline when Dorset County Council approved a short-term route registration in June following the demise of the troubled 47 service.
DCC agreed to subsidise a service at peak hours during term time, a statutory requirement.
But the temporary offer by Damory, which came after an anonymous donation to keep the service running, attracted criticism from commuters because the earliest bus did not leave Bridport early enough for them to reach Yeovil in time for work.
The new timetable means service 40 will be leaving Bridport at 7.30am during term-time and college holidays and arriving in Yeovil at 8.41am.