IT WAS a pleasure to read Chris Loder’s column, in last week’s Bridport & Lyme Regis News (Thursday 22 April), about the recently announced “National Bus Strategy” and we must be grateful that we have a Member of Parliament for whom public transport provision is such a high priority.

It is also encouraging that the Government has finally recognised the importance of an effective, convenient and inexpensive bus service to provide connectivity between communities, and become a genuine alternative to the private car. There is also acceptance that – in order to achieve the zero carbon commitments that the Government has made – public transport will play a key role. The BUS BACK BETTER paper, launched on 15 March and which can be downloaded (, is well worth reading, and spells out what is expected from the Local Transport Authorities (in our case Dorset Council) and the Bus Companies.

Since 2011, residents of West Dorset have seen their bus services decimated, with over 10 routes withdrawn completely, leaving many of the smaller villages and hamlets without any conventional public transport. Those bus routes that have survived have also seen cuts in services, with early morning and late evening buses withdrawn, and a reduction in frequency of the remaining buses, which makes them less useful and is hastening the spiral of decline.

Dorset Council has made no secret of its indifference where public transport in rural areas is concerned and has pursued a policy of withdrawing financial support for anything except its statutory obligations.

WATAG, which was set up by Dorset County Council in 2001 to provide a voice for local public transport users, has struggled in recent years to make its case to the council for adequate funding to keep essential bus services operating. At last, with the National Bus Strategy, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard.

We look forward to being part of the conversation and urge Chris Loder to ensure that Dorset Council consults with town and parish councils, and local residents, before making any final decisions.

Bob Driscoll

Chairman, West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG)