When news happens send us your pictures, video and views. Text BE to 80360 or contact us by email
Packed meeting in Weymouth hears of bus changes
1:52pm Saturday 23rd March 2013 in Latest
RESIDENTS packed into a meeting to hear about changes to bus services to a Weymouth community.
First Hampshire and Dorset is axing its town centre link to Southill as part of a borough-wide timetable shake-up which comes into effect from tomorrow. The company says Service 5/5a which also serves Lanehouse, is a commercial route which has performed poorly and is no longer viable to run.
This has angered residents, particularly the elderly who rely on the bus as a ‘lifeline’ link to visit shops and community facilities. A well-attended demonstration was held on the estate last month.
Discussions by county council officials has led to other operators stepping in to provide a service and details of these were given at a public meeting today at Emmanuel Church, Southill. ‘They are far from perfect’ the meeting heard.
More than 100 people packed into the church to hear county councillor David Harris announce how both Damory Coaches and South West Coaches were going to run buses through Southill, subject to approval from the traffic commissioner.
Damory will be diverting its 253 Bridport-Weymouth bus through the estate and via Goldcroft Road/Newstead Road/Asda just after 10am once a day Monday to Friday including school holidays, returning from town at 1.30pm. South West Coaches will run three buses a day (schooldays only) from Radipole village and Southill to town and back via Morrisons supermarket with departures from Radipole between 9.30am and 1.15pm.
Coun Harris pledged to follow up a number of issues raised by residents including more buses in the early morning, evening, and at weekends, and a better service for Goldcroft Road residents who will miss out on the South West Coaches link.
Neville Pollard, 76, said the poor public transport system and the fact there are no evening buses had led to the demise of facilities in town such as the Pavilion and people not attending the Carnival.
“Some families can’t afford to get a taxi in and back,” he said.
Michael Smith, 79, said he moved to Southill because he liked the area, it had good public transport and some facilities.
But he said the post office had now been lost and there was hardly any buses, a loss particularly felt by the elderly.
“There’s some buses running around town with hardly a soul on them including the park and ride bus and we in Southill are missing out,” he added.
Borough councillor Ryan Hope, who chaired the meeting with Coun Harris, said discussions had led to some sort of service being provided to ensure the estate isn’t left ‘isolated.’ He added: “The service is far from perfect but it’s giving some opportunity to get in and out of town.
“If people use these services the bus firms will start to see some profit and could lead to them developing the service and making it more frequent.
“It’s been suggested that people with bus passes who travel free wouldn’t mind paying a 50 pence contribution. That can’t be done but an option would be to pay the full fare on every third journey you make.”
Coun Harris said the routes had to be approved by the traffic commissioner which could take a maximum of 56 days, but he expects it to be done quicker. However the buses run by South West Coaches won’t run out of term time so will not start until at least after Easter anyway. If Damory started running a service from Monday passengers wouldn’t be charged as the route hasn’t been approved, he said.
Coun Harris said: “There’s some good points about these services and there’s are some bad points.
“Personally I don’t think it’s good enough for a long-term solution.”
He added that Southill would be considered for subsidy when the county council evaluates all subsidised services in Dorset later this year.
Coun Harris said after the meeting: “I was very pleased with the turnout which shows there’s still much interest in getting an adequate service.
“I was disappointed with some of the news I had to share with people today but at least we have something to build on.”