Campaign to prevent cuts to bus service

Courtesy of Dorset Echo

A PETITION has been created calling on First Bus to stop a ‘catastrophe.’ The company plans to cut down the number of Number 31 buses through Martinstown and Winterbourne Steepleton Jon Walker, 52, who lives in Martinstown and started the petition, said this would be a ‘blow to the communities.’ West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has also spoken out about the plans.

He said: “This is a real problem. People in Martinstown and Winterbourne Steepleton need to be able to get to the bus, and I am currently trying to get the bus company to change their mind.

“I expect to hear from the chief executive in the next few days.”

The changes will see the service reduced from one an hour to twice a day.

First Bus said the main reason for the changes was to ‘improve the reliability of the service and match the resources in use against demand.’ First Bus said they had managed to keep the two busiest peak journeys to and from Dorchester through the villages.

They added they would be happy to meet residents to explore solutions where the new timetable would not meet their travel needs.

Mr Walker has set up an online petition calling on the bus company to keep the hourly service. So far it has more than 170 signatures.

Mr Walker said: “It’s a private company but it’s a public service and a lot of people will be affected.”

He added: “To reduce it to two buses a day it would be catastrophic.”

The bus was used by young and old Mr Walker said.

He said: “I don’t use the bus myself – I’m fighting the principal.

“It’s an essential service for a rural community and something that should be fought for.”

As well as locals using the service, there were tourists that used it to get to the area for walking.

Mr Walker said: “If you look at it in the whole context, it’s not just a case of a few people not taking the bus during the day. It’s got a big community impact.”

n To visit the petition visit change.org and search for First Dorset. Or follow this link: http://chn.ge/1ii5VtZ

  • A FIRST spokesperson said the service provided a large number of roles along the route including school and rail links, as well as the busy Bridport to Axminster service.

At times the service had failed to fulfil its roles including missing connections and so the new timetable was realigned to meet trains in Axminster and Dorchester South stations.

The spokesman added: “In order to do this, however most journeys during the day will no longer serve Martinstown. We have retained the two busiest peak journeys to and from Dorchester through the village which accounts for around a third of the passengers.”

First Bus said they had met with DCC to see whether an alternative could be provided for off-peak concessionary customers.

The spokesman said: “At this time no firm replacement services have been identified except for Service 61 which operates on Wednesdays through the village to and from Dorchester.”
First Bus said they would be happy to meet with the residents and DCC to discuss opportunities and try and find a solution for off-peak travellers.