COMMUNITIES in Weymouth will be cut off under new plans by First Bus.
Sutton Poyntz, Southill, Preston and areas of Wyke Regis will all lose out when First Bus makes changes to its timetables and route on March 24.
The Service 4 from Weymouth, Preston or Sutton Poyntz to Weymouth, will now no-longer come off the main road and Oakbury Drive at Preston.
Instead buses will serve stops on the main road and residents will have to walk to there in order to catch them.
The 4B service through Sutton Poyntz will be removed entirely as will the Service 5 and 5A that runs from Weymouth to Southill, Lanehouse and back to Weymouth.
Wyke Road will not be serviced by Service 6 from Weymouth to Wyke Regis- buses will instead serve Chickerell Road (Pye Hill) and Lanehouse.
Other changes include: Service 1 from Weymouth to Portland – From March 24 buses will run every 20 minutes in the evening -compared to every half an hour at present.
Also from the end of March buses will travel via Commercial Road and Westham Road en route to Weymouth King’s Statue, and via the Seafront on the way back to Portland, and will stop at the Kings Statue bus stop rather than the one outside Debenhams in Weymouth. People wishing to travel from Dorchester to Portland on a straight through service will not be able to do this – instead they will have to change at the King’s Statue.
The current Service 601 from Portland to Thomas Hardye School during term time will be renumbered as Service 1A from 24 March.
Service 2 from Weymouth to Littlemoor - is being altered to’ improve the overall punctuality and reliability of the buses on the route.’ From March 24 buses operating during the evening from Monday – Saturday, will run every 20 minutes (compared to every half hour at present).
At weekends buses will run every 10 minutes on Saturday daytimes, compared to one bus every 15 minutes now, and every 15 minutes on Sunday daytimes, compared to every 20 minutes at present.
Service 3/3A from Weymouth to Westham - The timetable is changing to both ‘improve the overall punctuality and reliability of the service’ and to create ‘more consistency between the Monday to Friday and Saturday timetables.’ From the end of March buses will run every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes, rather than operating every 12 minutes on Monday to Fridays and every 20 minutes on Saturdays. The Service 3A variation – which sees buses travel via Southill for one late night Monday to Saturday journey – is being removed from the timetable due to low passenger usage. The late night journey itself will remain in the timetable buses will follow the normal route of Service 3 and will not travel via Southill.
Service 4/4B from Weymouth to Preston or Sutton Poyntz- Service 4 buses travelling outbound from Weymouth to Preston will no longer come off the main road to serve Oakbury Drive.
Instead buses will serve stops on the main road, with residents living on Oakbury Drive needing to walk through to there in order to catch them.
The Service 4B is being removed from the timetable from 24 March. This change means that Sutton Poyntz will no longer be served by First buses.
First considered the decision to withdraw the 4B route variation long and hard before it was made as the company does appreciate the impact that may have on local people, however on balance the decision was made to ensure that long term commercial viability of the route.
Notably at present buses can find it very challenging to operate in this area, due to narrow roads, parking concerns and a tight reversing manoeuvre at the end and these issues are further compounded by relatively few people boarding from stops along this bit of the route.
Monday to Saturday evening journeys on Service 4 are being reinstated from 24 March. From this date buses will run every half an hour during the evening, up until around 11pm.
Service 5/5A from Weymouth to Southill and Lanehouse - is being withdrawn from 24 March.
The route, which First operates on a commercial basis, has performed poorly over a number of years and while efforts have been made to make it more financially viable these have not been successful.
First regrets the impact that the decision to withdraw this route will have on local people, however in the current economic climate it can no longer sustain this loss making route and thus has no choice but to withdraw it.
First is making a change to Service 6 to partly compensate for the loss of Service 5 in the Lanehouse area.
Service 6 from Weymouth to Wyke Regis - The route is being altered from 24 March.
From this date buses will serve Chickerell Road (Pye Hill) and Lanehouse instead of Wyke Road.
This change will mean that people in Lanehouse and Chickerell Road will have regular access to buses to and from Weymouth and Wyke Regis. The change does mean that Wyke Road will no longer be served, but First have said that this road is used by other bus operators in the area, so people should still be able to travel.
The overall frequency of buses is being reduced while more time is being added in to enable buses to get from A to B.
Buses will operate hourly from the end of March, compared to every half hour now.
First have said this will mean that buses are ‘more punctual and reliable’ as the timetable will better reflect the road conditions that drivers face.
The timetable is also being altered during the morning and afternoon peak periods with some journeys removed from the Monday – Friday timetable during school term time.
While there will be an early Monday - Friday journey from Weymouth at 6.50am and an early Monday – Friday journey from Wyke Regis (Walker Crescent) at 7.14am, during the normal school term time there will then be a gap in the timetable until around 9am. This gap to the timetable is necessary to enable First to provide journeys for students attending a local college at those times. In the afternoon the Monday – Friday 3.15 departure from Weymouth at Debenhams will also not operate on school days for the same reasons, however there will still be departures at 2.15pm, 4.15pm and 5.15pm. At weekends and during school holidays there will be no gaps in the morning or afternoon timetables.
Service 8 from Weymouth to Chickerell - is being altered to make it ‘both more punctual and reliable’ and to also improve the Saturday daytime frequency.
Buses on Saturdays will operate every 15 minutes from the end of March, compared to every 20 minutes now.
In addition evening journeys operating between Monday and Saturday are being reintroduced for the summer from 24 March.
Service 10 / X10 from Weymouth to Dorchester – The Service X10 which runs via Littlemoor Road is being withdrawn.
From 24 March all journeys will operate as Service 10 travelling via Broadwey and Upwey every 15 minutes. In addition an hourly evening service is being introduced giving local people the opportunity to travel to and from Weymouth and Dorchester much later than at present The timetable of Service 10 is also being amended on Sundays, with journeys operating later into the afternoon than at present, giving people more opportunities to travel.
People wanting to travel direct from Dorchester to Portland without changing buses – which was previously possible because Service 10 buses changed into Service 1 buses on arrival in Weymouth - is being lost from the end of March.
This is because the timetables for Service 10 and Service 1 are both being amended slightly. Customers who wish to travel from Dorchester to Portland -or vice versa- will still be able do so though, changing buses at the Kings Statue in Weymouth - from the end of March both Service 1 and Service 10 buses will arrive and depart from this location.
Service 31 from Weymouth to Axminster - The timetable for this service is being amended. Specifically the 7.41am journey from Bridport to Dorchester – which operates on school days only – is being altered to operate eight minutes earlier.
Customers who use this service are advised to check the new timetable carefully to ensure that they do not miss the bus following the changes in March. In addition the 3.45pm duplicate journey from Woodroffe School to Axminster - which operates on school days only- is being removed from the timetable.
This change is necessary as other timetable changes across the network mean that there will no longer be a vehicle in the vicinity at the time to operate this. Service 47 from Bridport to Yeovil - The timetable of this service is being altered to improve the overall punctuality and reliability of the route.
Customers are advised to check the new timetables carefully before travelling to understand what, if any, impact this will have on them.
Service 502 from Weymouth to Littlesea and 503 from Weymouth to Waterside - These two services, which exist primarily to transport holiday makers to and from local holiday parks during the summer, will begin operating from 23 March. Service X53 from Poole to Exeter - This service, which has previously been supported by Dorset County Council and Devon County Council, will be operated on a purely commercial basis from 24 March. Buses will operate every two hours Monday – Sunday.
Service X54 from Colyton to Exeter via Seaton and Axmouth- This service, which existed to provide two morning journeys and one afternoon journey only running between Colyton and Exeter, is being withdrawn from 24 March.
The service used to work in conjunction with Service X53, providing a variation to the normal X53 route, however it is not commercially viable and so is being lost as Service X53 transfers from being a supported route to being a commercially operated one.
Talking about the changes, Simon Ford, Regional Network Manager. for First in the South West and Wales, said: “The alterations that are being made at the end of March are largely designed to improve the local bus service – improving for instance the punctuality and reliability of routes - however at the same time we are also making a handful of changes to some other routes which are necessary to ensure the long term viability of our business. We understand and regret that the latter will be unpopular, but unfortunately we have no choice other than to introduce them.
“Where routes are being amended or lost it is because very few people are carried on board them and the revenue taken does not match the costs of operating the journeys. This is an issue that is further compounded by fact that of those people using the affected services many are concessionary pass holders and at present the level of concessionary fare reimbursement that operators like First receive for these people travelling is relatively low. This makes it much harder for us sustain these journeys. Decisions like this are never taken lightly as we do understand the impact they can have on local people – particularly where older people rely on the routes – but in the current financial climate we are unable to sustain loss making routes and so have had to take steps to address this.
“There are many positive changes being made in March too though. For instance the introduction of evening journeys on Service 10 and the routing of all Service 10 buses to operate via Broadway and Upwey is expected to please many of local residents there. This will, for instance, respond in part to a local campaign asking for evening journeys between Dorchester and Weymouth running via Broadwey and Upwey to be reinstated. Similarly the improvements made to the frequency of Service 1, Service 2 and Service 8 on Saturdays, are expected to be welcomed.
“The new timetables for all the affected services will be uploaded to our website from 6 February with hard copy versions also made available from selected tourist and travel information centres around Dorset from early March.”
For more information about First in Dorset or to view current or new timetables visit www.firstgroup.com/dorset.
New timetables will be found under the ‘forthcoming timetables’ section of the website until they take effect at the end of March.