Passengers affected by controversial bus changes in Weymouth and Portland invited to meeting (From Dorset Echo)
When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Passengers affected by controversial bus changes in Weymouth and Portland invited to meeting
ALL ABOARD! Passengers affected by controversial bus changes in Weymouth and Portland are invited to a meeting tomorrow night.
Managers from the First Bus company, introducing sweeping changes to the network from next month, will be explaining the firm’s decision to axe services and make other timetable alterations.
However, it is also hoped the event will be an opportunity for solutions to be found to appease residents affected by the changes.
First says in order to improve the punctuality and reliability of local services and better match resources against the level of demand for buses, a number of changes are being made to the network from March 24. Some routes will see a better service but buses will be withdrawn from certain communities.
The decision to cut ‘lifeline’ bus services has sparked fury and prompted a demonstration in Southill earlier this month as well as a protest meeting in Sutton Poyntz last weekend. Both were attended by hundreds of people.
Tomorrow’s meeting will be held in the Pavilion Ocean Room at 7pm and will be chaired by South Dorset MP Richard Drax, pictured.
Mr Drax met First’s regional development manager Matthew Callow last week and explained how the cuts will hit the most vulnerable in communities.
He has persuaded the company to send representatives to Weymouth to meet residents face to face and explain the decisions behind the cuts.
Mr Drax said: “I have also urged Mr Callow to relook at these proposals and to see if any improvements, compromises or solutions can be found, in fact anything better than what is on offer.”
He added: “First have the contract to provide services and although the buses could be cleaner and more modern, the services have been reasonable. It is therefore sad and regrettable that services are to be cut.
“First produced brand new buses for the Olympics which mysteriously disappeared afterwards. They are now being used in metropolitan areas while we in the sticks are getting the dregs.”
Borough councillor Ian Bruce said the meeting was not a ‘demonstration’ but rather a chance for people to have their say and hopefully for the bus company to consider making changes.
Bus campaigner Jackie Isbell, who started up a Facebook page for people to make comments about local bus services, said she wasn’t convinced the meeting would solve anything.
She said First held a ‘meet the manger’ session last year and nothing seemed to come out of it.
Mrs Isbell said: “I will probably go along to the Pavilion meeting but I’m not hopeful.
“There were quite a few managers at the event on the seafront last year and all these reassurances were given but nothing changed and we’re still left waiting for buses.”