BUS users in Bridport are up in arms since news of the axing of evening services on the No 31 bus leaked out.

Pressure group Waytag (Western Area Transport Action Group) chairman Peter Smith said they were unhappy with the proposals to stop running buses back from Dorchester after 7.15pm.

Mr Smith said: “We are obviously not happy.

“We are concerned that it is actually going to stop more people using the bus in general because they simply can’t get back from Dorchester in the evening.

“They are just nibbling away all the time at the services.”

Bridport cleaner William Rickard faces losing his job.

He said: “I get the last back at 9.20pm. The bus driver told me the last bus service back is going to be 7.15pm so I am going to have to look for a new job. I clean the medical centre so have to do so after hours.”

He said there were at least 10 or 15 people on the last service.

Bus user Neil Hallows says the loss has been introduced without any warning or consultation and will adversely affect tourism, business and leisure.

He said: “The X31 has in recent years lost the 11.10pm service, cut out the Weymouth leg, and now takes a more direct route between Dorchester and Bridport. These changes were all made in order to make the service more sustainable, and so give even less justification for what is now proposed.

“I am aware that unpopular services need to be cut, and that it is a difficult economic climate. But the X31 is often described as a ‘flagship’ or ‘major’ service.”

He said the changes would impact on youngsters wanting to go to the cinema, people who work in London or those visiting friends and people wanting to go for a drink in Dorchester.

He added: “I think everyone is in one of those categories at least some of the time – and that’s the point. The only alternative would be a taxi costing around £35 one way.”

Marc Reddy, managing Director of First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, has said: “Service X31 was previously financially supported by Dorset and Devon County Councils, which enabled more journeys to be operated.

“Two journeys have been withdrawn in the evening from September 28.

“This is due to the very low numbers of passengers using the service, and unfortunately, it was not commercially viable to keep these specific journeys operating.

“All of the services/timetables we provide are under constant review, and where we believe we can provide viable additional journeys, we will do so.”

Dorset County Councillor Ros Kayes said she was very angry at the cuts and would be opening negotiations with the county council.

She said: “Slowly and each time First make a change to the timetable, our evening bus services are being eroded.

“I can’t help but think they have chosen do it in this sneaky and underhand way because they hope nobody will notice.

“Whereas if they were to say: ‘We will stop all services after 7pm’ there would be uproar.

“There needs to be uproar now. I’m very angry that First seems to be willing to run a bus service only in the times when they can make the most profit.”