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Temporary reprieve for Dorchester bus services
BUS services in Dorchester are set for another temporary reprieve.
A number of routes in the county town came under threat last year when operator Damory Coaches announced it could no longer run them commercially.
However, Dorset County Council stepped in to help fund the routes on a short-term basis, with Damory continuing to operate a revised service from June last year.
The routes affected were the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 Dorchester Town services and the number 95 school service as well as the number 103 between Bovington and Dorchester.
At the same time the council also awarded short-term contracts to secure the continued future of the 212 service between Dorchester and Yeovil and the 387 from the county town to Poole.
The contracts were initially expected to be in place for around nine to 10 months but the county council’s cabinet will meet next week to discuss extending them until August.
This will enable the council to complete a review of all of its bus services and a major transport procurement exercise before new local bus contracts can be put into place next autumn.
When the Dorchester routes first came under threat last year Liberal Democrat councillors launched a petition, that attracted over 1,000 signatures, calling for the services to be preserved.
Mayor of Dorchester and district councillor Andy Canning, who helped organise the petition, said the latest developments were a positive step for the future of bus services in the town.
He said: “What we want from this is there to be regular, good-quality bus services around the town and from the nearby villages.
“It’s important people who cannot afford a private car or are not able to drive should be able to get into the town centre easily to do their shopping and visit the doctor or the hospital.
“This is a positive step in the sense they are keeping existing services and what would be really good would be to have something far more long-term in place so everybody can feel secure that the bus services are going to be kept in place in the long run.”
Gordon Edwards, from watchdog Travelwatch South West, added: “Obviously, it’s good that it has been extended in the short term.
“It would be good to see a long-term sustainable contract put in place.”