BUS fares will be waived on a round-town service in Bridport in a bid to encourage more passengers to use it - or lose it.

Service 7 (Bridport Local), a community bus link championed by a working group of town and parish councils, the Bridport Local Area Partnership and the Western Area Transport Action Group, was launched in August in response to the withdrawal of services previously subsidised by Dorset County Council.

At a meeting of Bridport Town Council on Tuesday, several councillors expressed concern that not enough people were using the bus. They voted in favour of extending the trial period of the service from six to 12 months so that alternative routes can be tested in a bid to improve usage.

They also voted to waive fares in December to encourage people to use the bus.

The bus operates across Bridport, West Bay, Bothenhampton, Lower Walditch, Bradpole and Allington and is operated by First Wessex under contract to the town council.

Normally, it costs users £2 single/£3 return fare. Concessionary passes can be used, and while buses will stop at all First Wessex stops, they can also be hailed along the route.

A working group is due to meet this week to consider alternative routes and the possibility of visiting the town centre more frequently.

Town clerk Will Austin said usage has been 'a little disappointing' so far but added feedback from those who have used the service has been 'extremely positive.'

For the month of December bus fares will be waived and Mr Austin has encouraged people to make the most of the service to head into the town centre to do their Christmas shopping

He said: "We're proud of what we’ve done and feedback has been positive. But we have always said that this is a 'use it or lose it' service and that is still the case."

Timetables and route maps are available from local outlets, including Bridport’s bus Station and the TIC, and are on display at visitor attractions and on local noticeboards.