TWO new bus services are set to launch - as the county council makes a u-tun over cuts to services following residents' outrage.

But while it's good news for the old No 40 route, First Wessex have announced changes to their winter timetable - which includes scrapping a number of services in west Dorset.

Residents hit out when a new timetable showed the No 40 bus would no longer include Bridport Hospital, Netherbury, Gerrards Green in Beaminster or Broadwindsor.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

However, Dorset County Council (DCC) has agreed two new services to replace the existing No 40 to ensure a continued route between Bridport and Yeovil.

First Wessex will operate a commercial service (No 6) between Beaminster and Bridport Hospital, with one journey each way to and from Yeovil.

This service will run throughout the day between Monday and Friday.

For students and commuters, the council will provide additional links between Yeovil and Bridport or Beaminster, with four return trips a day linking with the First Wessex timetable.

The county council No 40 service will provide a journey between Bridport and Yeovil College via Broadwindsor and Mosterton starting at 7.30am from Monday to Friday. A return journey 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.

A statement from the council said this would give involved parties three months to gauge the level of demand for the service.

Pending registration, the new timetables will be published and start running in the next few weeks.

West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group committee member, Bob Driscoll said although he was pleased with the announcement, there were still questions to be answered.

“Until we see what the full timetable is, it’s difficult to say if this will meet the needs of the community.

“If the new services are going to serve the community which was served by the 40 then that will be excellent news,” he said.

Mr Driscoll added the council needed to make clear what the arrangements would be for passengers transferring from one service to another and whether connections could be guaranteed.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Leader of Dorset County Council and councillor for Beaminster, said: “I’m 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.”

Simon Newport, general manager of First Wessex, said the new services were the best solution for the route which would hopefully go a long way to securing its long-term future.

"We hope that this change will encourage more people on to the bus,” he said.

"Changes necessary to reflect demand"

BUS passengers and campaigners have reacted with fury after it was revealed a number of services in Weymouth and west Dorset are being axed.

First Wessex has announced changes to weekly and Sunday services as part of the 2017/2018 winter timetable, which will come into effect on Sunday, November 19.

Sunday services from Dorchester to Bridport (X51) and Weymouth to Bridport (X53) will also be withdrawn as part of the winter timetable. The Monday-Saturday timetable will remain the same for both services.

According to First Wessex the changes are in response to the seasonal level of passenger demand, as well as congestion issues, withdrawal of subsidies and to ensure long-term sustainability of the routes.

Simon Newport, General Manager of First Wessex, said: “It’s necessary to make these changes for our winter timetable to reflect the level of demand. There’s a considerable drop off in passengers and we must match our resources to the revenue that we generate to make the business sustainable in the long term. Alongside the declining passenger from November onwards, we also receive the minimum level of external funding from local government, meaning that difficult choices must be made regarding the level of service that we can viably operate. This way we can safeguard these routes for the future.”

"Long-term solution needed"

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: ros kayes - lib dem, south dorset

Regarding the services replacing the No 40 route, Cllr Ros Kayes, county councillor for Bridport, said: “I’m really pleased they have listened to us and we have a viable solution that will be a better service than before.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to the officers involved. It’s a shame it has had to be this late but we are now going to have a service that’s fit for purpose.”

Cllr Kayes urged residents to make good use of the buses in order to secure a long term solution.

But she said the changes to First's winter timetable are 'not acceptable'.

“People rely on those services to get to work and people do work on Saturday and Sunday. Whether they work in care homes, in retail or in cafes, an awful lot of people commute using those buses.

“It sounds like what they’re saying is we are prepared to heap income when tourists use the buses but not for the people who live here all year round.”

Lyme Regis bus service welcomed

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

A MONTH on from being reinstated, a Lyme Regis bus service is proving 'vital' to its passengers.

The 71 town bus was saved by Lyme Regis Town Council after the service was scrapped in July.

The council has agreed a three-year contract with Damory Go South Coast, operating Monday to Friday on the same route as the previous service 71.

Doreen Pickford, 82, is one of the most familiar faces on the town bus and even considered moving out of Lyme Regis when the service was cancelled.

She said: I’m so pleased it’s back. It’s a real community on the bus and we all missed each other during the month the bus wasn’t running.

“I do all my own shopping and I couldn’t manage without the town bus.”

Fiona Blackmore, 71, relies on the bus as she no longer has a car.

She said: “It’s vital to me and to a lot of older people who struggle to get up the town. It’s vital for this community.”

But it’s not just older people who benefit from the town bus.

Emma Blackmore uses the bus regularly with her son Harley, four, and daughter Eleanor, two.

She said: “It’s a fantastic service for the elderly, disabled and young of this town.”

Cllr Cheryl Reynolds, chairman of the council’s Tourism, Community and Publicity Committee, said: “The council is delighted it was able to save the town bus service for the benefit of the community.

“Although it is not the town council’s responsibility to provide bus services, there was full support from the whole council to commit funding for the next three years in recognition of how essential this service is in the town.

“It’s good to see the bus is being well used and to hear about how much the service is benefitting the passengers. It’s clear this was money well spent.”