Campaigners start protest over loss of Wemouth and Portland bus services

Dorset Echo: ON THE BUSES: Councillor Kate Wheller with residents who are concerned over the possible loss of the Doncaster Road route through Wyke Regis ON THE BUSES: Councillor Kate Wheller with residents who are concerned over the possible loss of the Doncaster Road route through Wyke Regis

ANGER over the loss of bus services in Weymouth and Portland has prompted campaigners to start a protest petition.

Communities were devastated when they heard South West Coaches was axing some routes which are not financially viable.

They are commercially operated services not subsidised by Dorset County Council and include the 205 Portland Bill service via the Grove and Wakeham and the 207 through Downclose estate in Wyke Regis.

Other companies do not serve the routes so passengers, many of whom are senior citizens, will face a long walk to pick up connecting services.

South West Coaches has said the routes are not paying and it had to make a decision to keep the business afloat.

Service manager Lewis Trahar cited reductions in the amount companies get for the concessionary bus fare scheme and in the sums firms can claim back on diesel as reasons for a review of services.

Borough councillor for Wyke Regis Kate Wheller has launched a petition and is calling for a meeting with South West Coaches Buses and Dorset County Council to ask them to re-consider the decision to axe the two ‘vital’ bus routes.

She has been approached by people in the street with concerns since the Echo revealed the news earlier this month.

Elderly people have described the bus routes as a ‘lifeline’.

Coun Wheller said: “The 207 is the only bus to serve the large area of Wyke Regis south of the Buxton Road. Residents face a long uphill walk to Buxton Road or Portland Road to catch a bus. And the 205 is the only bus serving the Grove and Wakeham on Portland. YOI visitors and locals will have to book taxis or face a long walk to Easton for a bus.”

She said councillors were not consulted about the decision, which will take effect at the end of November. Coun Wheller highlighted the ‘duplication’ of buses on some routes and hopes the bus company and council will investigate solutions.

Petitions are available to sign in Wyke Regis at Wyke Working Men’s Club, Wellworthy’s Sports and Social Club, the Wyke Smugglers pub and the library. The petition can be accessed online at ipetition.com/petition/207 and205/

Comments (11)

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3:16pm Tue 23 Oct 12

JimmyTheWeed says...

So to summarize:

They want First to continue to run non-profitable routes.

They also don't want them to increase ticket prices either..


OK then... Clearly none of these protesters can work out the obvious flaw in that plan....
So to summarize: They want First to continue to run non-profitable routes. They also don't want them to increase ticket prices either.. OK then... Clearly none of these protesters can work out the obvious flaw in that plan.... JimmyTheWeed
  • Score: 0

3:38pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Isosceles says...

I have heard of Weymuff but Wemouth is a new way of spelling it.
I have heard of Weymuff but Wemouth is a new way of spelling it. Isosceles
  • Score: 0

3:38pm Tue 23 Oct 12

JoeyJo says...

South West Coaches not First.
South West Coaches not First. JoeyJo
  • Score: 0

3:45pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Presstostop says...

Arriva is on the way....You heard it here First.
Arriva is on the way....You heard it here First. Presstostop
  • Score: 0

3:49pm Tue 23 Oct 12

snowleopard says...

need some of those 16 seater shuttle buses of a few years back.
need some of those 16 seater shuttle buses of a few years back. snowleopard
  • Score: 0

4:33pm Tue 23 Oct 12

portlandboy says...

Cllr. Wheller said
"...councillors were not consulted about the decision, which will take effect at the end of November."

Does Cllr. Wheller mean that councillors were not consulted over the reduction in the council's payment of allowance for concessionary fares, or the fact that the bus services would be withdrawn as a result of the cuts? Either way, the council MUST be able to see what the end result will be when they cut their financial assistance to a bus company which runs a minor route.
Cllr. Wheller said "...councillors were not consulted about the decision, which will take effect at the end of November." Does Cllr. Wheller mean that councillors were not consulted over the reduction in the council's payment of allowance for concessionary fares, or the fact that the bus services would be withdrawn as a result of the cuts? Either way, the council MUST be able to see what the end result will be when they cut their financial assistance to a bus company which runs a minor route. portlandboy
  • Score: 0

12:21pm Wed 24 Oct 12

Micke12 says...

It is time to get real here people. Local bus companies get paid just 17 pence for passengers using their passes on local routes, and anybody using their pass on the longer routes, like say Poole to Exeter on the X53, the bus company gets just 47 pence, yes, that's right, 47p, for someone to travel on the bus for just under 4 and a half hours, that is some journey of 80 miles, all for 47 pence. No wonder the bus companies are culling routes.

I am neither a bus driver or a regular bus user, and I do not have a pass or a car. I am happy to walk for most of the time and save money and the environment.

I understand that this may be difficult for the elderly population that use the buses and other public transport, but you can notr run a service, any type of service, when you are making so little money. I suspect that if the passholders were asked to pay, say, 50p towards their bus fares, they would be up in arms, but it is possible that if they want to keep their local bus services, they may have to.

I was talking to a bus driver the other day who had done the route from Poole to Exeter. The bus was full, from Poole, but the bus driver had taken just £25.00 cash, the rest of the passengers were pass holders.

The actual cost of the trip, including fuel and drivers wages as well as the cost of keeping the bus in condition was not covered by this pittance that the driver made.

Either the Government or the Council have to increase the subsidy given for the pass holder fares, or the passengers must accept that they need to pay something towards their fare. I do not think that asking pass holders to pay 50p towards their fare, with the current subsidy from the council remaining the same, is unreasonable. You get what you pay for, if you want the service to remain, either pressure the government and/or the councils into increasing the subsidy, at the risk of increasing everyone's coucil tax or income tax burdon, or agree to make a contribution towards the fare - what is the old saying - FARES FAIR
It is time to get real here people. Local bus companies get paid just 17 pence for passengers using their passes on local routes, and anybody using their pass on the longer routes, like say Poole to Exeter on the X53, the bus company gets just 47 pence, yes, that's right, 47p, for someone to travel on the bus for just under 4 and a half hours, that is some journey of 80 miles, all for 47 pence. No wonder the bus companies are culling routes. I am neither a bus driver or a regular bus user, and I do not have a pass or a car. I am happy to walk for most of the time and save money and the environment. I understand that this may be difficult for the elderly population that use the buses and other public transport, but you can notr run a service, any type of service, when you are making so little money. I suspect that if the passholders were asked to pay, say, 50p towards their bus fares, they would be up in arms, but it is possible that if they want to keep their local bus services, they may have to. I was talking to a bus driver the other day who had done the route from Poole to Exeter. The bus was full, from Poole, but the bus driver had taken just £25.00 cash, the rest of the passengers were pass holders. The actual cost of the trip, including fuel and drivers wages as well as the cost of keeping the bus in condition was not covered by this pittance that the driver made. Either the Government or the Council have to increase the subsidy given for the pass holder fares, or the passengers must accept that they need to pay something towards their fare. I do not think that asking pass holders to pay 50p towards their fare, with the current subsidy from the council remaining the same, is unreasonable. You get what you pay for, if you want the service to remain, either pressure the government and/or the councils into increasing the subsidy, at the risk of increasing everyone's coucil tax or income tax burdon, or agree to make a contribution towards the fare - what is the old saying - FARES FAIR Micke12
  • Score: 0

6:30pm Wed 24 Oct 12

islandman says...

Everyone has the right to voice an opinion but for heavens sake, do make sure you are in possession of the facts when making statements.

Having suggested to SouthWest that maybe they should introduce a charge to run alongside the pass, they said the law would not allow that.

They cannot accept monies from both.

It is either from the passengers by not showing their pass, or from the government. One or the other.

As for an earlier poster stating the 207 was a minor route. Whether or not that is the case, clearly it has been deemed a worthwhile proposition for the last 50 yrs, otherwise First, then Sureline and now SouthWest wouldn't have been keen to take it on.
Everyone has the right to voice an opinion but for heavens sake, do make sure you are in possession of the facts when making statements. Having suggested to SouthWest that maybe they should introduce a charge to run alongside the pass, they said the law would not allow that. They cannot accept monies from both. It is either from the passengers by not showing their pass, or from the government. One or the other. As for an earlier poster stating the 207 was a minor route. Whether or not that is the case, clearly it has been deemed a worthwhile proposition for the last 50 yrs, otherwise First, then Sureline and now SouthWest wouldn't have been keen to take it on. islandman
  • Score: 0

6:59pm Wed 24 Oct 12

portlandboy says...

islandman wrote:
Everyone has the right to voice an opinion but for heavens sake, do make sure you are in possession of the facts when making statements.

Having suggested to SouthWest that maybe they should introduce a charge to run alongside the pass, they said the law would not allow that.

They cannot accept monies from both.

It is either from the passengers by not showing their pass, or from the government. One or the other.

As for an earlier poster stating the 207 was a minor route. Whether or not that is the case, clearly it has been deemed a worthwhile proposition for the last 50 yrs, otherwise First, then Sureline and now SouthWest wouldn't have been keen to take it on.
You may well be right in the fact that the 207 has been profitable for 50 years, but therein lies the problem. For many years the car was the second choice of transport for most people, being a "luxury". Now most people have cars, some like the elderly or disabled have "subsidised" Motablity vehicles and therefore prefer to travel in them rather than on a bus. The bus use has diminished, creating a need for subsidies to be paid to the bus companies. As these subsidies are cut, the routes then become less profitable and then a reduced service is operated. The subsidies (and the latest cuts in them) are exactly why the route was profitable for First, Shoreline and SWC but now isn't.
[quote][p][bold]islandman[/bold] wrote: Everyone has the right to voice an opinion but for heavens sake, do make sure you are in possession of the facts when making statements. Having suggested to SouthWest that maybe they should introduce a charge to run alongside the pass, they said the law would not allow that. They cannot accept monies from both. It is either from the passengers by not showing their pass, or from the government. One or the other. As for an earlier poster stating the 207 was a minor route. Whether or not that is the case, clearly it has been deemed a worthwhile proposition for the last 50 yrs, otherwise First, then Sureline and now SouthWest wouldn't have been keen to take it on.[/p][/quote]You may well be right in the fact that the 207 has been profitable for 50 years, but therein lies the problem. For many years the car was the second choice of transport for most people, being a "luxury". Now most people have cars, some like the elderly or disabled have "subsidised" Motablity vehicles and therefore prefer to travel in them rather than on a bus. The bus use has diminished, creating a need for subsidies to be paid to the bus companies. As these subsidies are cut, the routes then become less profitable and then a reduced service is operated. The subsidies (and the latest cuts in them) are exactly why the route was profitable for First, Shoreline and SWC but now isn't. portlandboy
  • Score: 0

6:50am Sat 27 Oct 12

TruckerSteve says...

If Dorset County Council can find £8,000 to keep the X53 running on a Sunday till Christmas and possibly more after that when hardly anybody uses it can't they dig a bit deeper to keep the Downclose at least service running?
If Dorset County Council can find £8,000 to keep the X53 running on a Sunday till Christmas and possibly more after that when hardly anybody uses it can't they dig a bit deeper to keep the Downclose at least service running? TruckerSteve
  • Score: 0

2:52pm Mon 29 Oct 12

SouthWestBuses says...

Several points need to be made clear on this bus service withdrawal :,

(1) Councillor Wheller picks up on duplication on some routes - South West Coaches run buses on both Dorchester and Portland routes where First provide an excellent service. As i've pointed out before this is an example of the smaller company trying to 'cream-off' passengers on the other operators prime routes - this is an example of totally needless duplication. I take notice that SWC buses often have a majority of pass holders on-board - dont be surprised when SWC announce the withdrawal of these unnecessary routes due to low income !!.
(2) It is stated that operators have been quick to jump in to serve areas such as Downclose - not entirely true. Southern National/First withdrew from Downclose due to it not being a paying route. Sureline stepped in to continue a service as the proprietor of Sureline (Mr Beaman) lived locally and involved himself in local matters for the good of the comunity and local buisnesses - this can hardly be said to be true of the owner of South West Coaches who is based in Wincanton & Yeovil.
(3) South West Coaches did not 'step-in' to operate ANY route in Weymouth - due to the wish of the owner of Sureline to sell the company SWC eventually became the owner of the Sureline operation (although other companies where at one time in the running). One might ask why a Somerset based company might wish to operate in Weymouth where a very large group held sway - its simple and not because they wanted to serve the residents of Weymouth - its got more to do with school contracts and a base in Dorset. The owner of SWC stated at the time he 'could not go head to head with First' - yet soon after the takeover of Sureline SWC increased their buses on the Dorchester and Portland routes (with old secondhand single deckers) - an attempt to 'cream-off' passengers or what.
I totally agree that the bus companies cannot continue to run services for a pitance (such as the 47p per passenger from Exeter to Poole).
Regretably there is no easy answer short of the Government paying the companies a fair rate for carrying pass holders - or better still returning to the previous system of passes giving a reduced rate fare so the bus companies get a fair crack.
I've tried to avoid political point scoring in my comments but its got to be pointed out that the laws regarding 'cross-subsidisation
' of routes being illegal were brought in by the Tories, and look - who is now in power and reducing the payment for pass holders ?. - Those who have commented that the tories are to blame are of course quite correct in this.
None of this solves the problem of routes that dont pay for whatever reason but unless there is a very major shift in the way things are done this regretable process will continue as will bus companies going under - a big operator in Oxfordshire has just folded for much the same reasons.
In 1969 the then Labour government formed the National Bus Company - this (they said at the time) would solve all the problems of things such as rural routes by cross-subsidisation, cooperation with the railway and companies working together - it didnt of course and then the Tories broke up the NBC and sold it off creating the situation we have today.
One last point about the County Council finding money for Downclose - DCC runs its own buses (such as the almost empty Weymouth Park & Ride buses) so they MIGHT just be able to provide a service for Downclose out of the 'Door to Dorset' vehicle fleet on a 'dial - a - ride' basis - thereby avoiding running buses empty as is happening at the moment as it would be 'demmand-responsive' - only running when the demmand is there - its worth a thought and perhaps Councillor Wheller might explore that option.
Several points need to be made clear on this bus service withdrawal :, (1) Councillor Wheller picks up on duplication on some routes - South West Coaches run buses on both Dorchester and Portland routes where First provide an excellent service. As i've pointed out before this is an example of the smaller company trying to 'cream-off' passengers on the other operators prime routes - this is an example of totally needless duplication. I take notice that SWC buses often have a majority of pass holders on-board - dont be surprised when SWC announce the withdrawal of these unnecessary routes due to low income !!. (2) It is stated that operators have been quick to jump in to serve areas such as Downclose - not entirely true. Southern National/First withdrew from Downclose due to it not being a paying route. Sureline stepped in to continue a service as the proprietor of Sureline (Mr Beaman) lived locally and involved himself in local matters for the good of the comunity and local buisnesses - this can hardly be said to be true of the owner of South West Coaches who is based in Wincanton & Yeovil. (3) South West Coaches did not 'step-in' to operate ANY route in Weymouth - due to the wish of the owner of Sureline to sell the company SWC eventually became the owner of the Sureline operation (although other companies where at one time in the running). One might ask why a Somerset based company might wish to operate in Weymouth where a very large group held sway - its simple and not because they wanted to serve the residents of Weymouth - its got more to do with school contracts and a base in Dorset. The owner of SWC stated at the time he 'could not go head to head with First' - yet soon after the takeover of Sureline SWC increased their buses on the Dorchester and Portland routes (with old secondhand single deckers) - an attempt to 'cream-off' passengers or what. I totally agree that the bus companies cannot continue to run services for a pitance (such as the 47p per passenger from Exeter to Poole). Regretably there is no easy answer short of the Government paying the companies a fair rate for carrying pass holders - or better still returning to the previous system of passes giving a reduced rate fare so the bus companies get a fair crack. I've tried to avoid political point scoring in my comments but its got to be pointed out that the laws regarding 'cross-subsidisation ' of routes being illegal were brought in by the Tories, and look - who is now in power and reducing the payment for pass holders ?. - Those who have commented that the tories are to blame are of course quite correct in this. None of this solves the problem of routes that dont pay for whatever reason but unless there is a very major shift in the way things are done this regretable process will continue as will bus companies going under - a big operator in Oxfordshire has just folded for much the same reasons. In 1969 the then Labour government formed the National Bus Company - this (they said at the time) would solve all the problems of things such as rural routes by cross-subsidisation, cooperation with the railway and companies working together - it didnt of course and then the Tories broke up the NBC and sold it off creating the situation we have today. One last point about the County Council finding money for Downclose - DCC runs its own buses (such as the almost empty Weymouth Park & Ride buses) so they MIGHT just be able to provide a service for Downclose out of the 'Door to Dorset' vehicle fleet on a 'dial - a - ride' basis - thereby avoiding running buses empty as is happening at the moment as it would be 'demmand-responsive' - only running when the demmand is there - its worth a thought and perhaps Councillor Wheller might explore that option. SouthWestBuses
  • Score: 0

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