IMPROVING public transport in rural west Dorset is high on the agenda for campaigners following the formation of the unitary authority.

With the new Dorset Council recently constituted, members of the West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) say they are looking forward to working with its public transport department to try and improve public transport in rural West Dorset.

They will discuss ways of achieving this at the group’s next meeting later this month, when they also talk about rail links. Both South Western Railway and Great Western Railway introduce their summer timetable on May 19.

WATAG hopes to hear more information about the ability to book rail tickets right through to Bridport and Lyme Regis (and vice versa) to include the train and bus via Dorchester and Axminster. On the bus side, Buses of Somerset and First Wessex jointly run Service 6 between Bridport and Crewkerne, which incurred yet another change of timetable in April.

There has been much concern raised about the current timetable and the withdrawal of a direct bus between Bridport and Yeovil.

As this route is partially subsidised by Dorset Council, WATAG has been in correspondence with Travel Dorset to raise its concerns and seek a solution.

Through bus fares to cover both First Wessex and Buses of Somerset routes will also be discussed. Dorset Community Transport provides some lifeline services since the major cutbacks in 2016 and 2017, so WATAG hopes to provide an update at the meeting; likewise, community initiatives by both Beaminster and Bridport town councils.

Members say they hope to welcome representatives from local public transport providers, councillors and particularly members of the public who use public transport.

There will also be a ‘democratic moment’ when anyone can raise questions about local bus and rail services. WATAG’s next meeting will take place on Thursday at the W.I. Hall on North Street, Bridport, at 6.30pm