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Shake up for Dorset bus services
DORSET’S supported bus network is set for a shake-up with some services being scrapped to save money.
Dorchester town services on Saturdays and buses in from outlying villages are among those getting the chop, prompting campaigners to ask whether alternatives can be found.
Weymouth routes are also affected including a Saturday service from Downclose which is carrying an average of four to five people each journey.
The exception is at Southill where a limited service will be extended to cover school holidays.
Dorset County Council has been examining the routes it subsidises and has announced a revamp in 2014 making savings of £850,000 in its public transport budget.
Residents are invited to have their say on the changes being proposed.
Mayor of Dorchester Stella Jones said it was a shame routes councillors had fought for in the past were affected.
She said: “If the service is withdrawn weekends and bank holidays there will be some weeks when there is no service from Friday to Tuesday which is a long time.
“For some the bus is essential and the only way of getting around.
“The council should look at spreading existing services over town such as the Poundbury electric bus.”
Simon Thompson from Dorset Community Action said: “We understand why this review is happening but we’re concerned about those in rural areas. We’d like alternatives to be investigated before communities are isolated further.”
Mr Thompson said changes would hit the ‘working poor’.
He also warned against the assumption that voluntary car schemes could replace buses, with an increasing need to find volunteers.
County councillor David Harris fought to save a bus service in Southill and is delighted it is being extended.
He said: “The recommendation to Cabinet is to extend the bus service so it will also run during the school holidays.
“We now need to press the case so it can be extended further.”
Have a say on changes
DORSET County Council wants to know how people will be affected by the changes, and if they have any ideas how a service can be provided in their area.
Leader of DCC Spencer Flower said: “We are keen to understand the individual impacts that the changes will have.
“We can then look to helping with community initiatives in the highlighted areas.
“Many of the rural buses have very little usage and we have had to look at ways of providing a better value for money service by empowering local groups to work together.
“In all parts of Dorset there have been successes with neighbour car and dial-a-car schemes.”
Access the bus survey at dorsetforyou.com/bussurvey People without a computer can fill out a survey at libraries. Closing date is September 24.
DCC’s Cabinet will make a decision on October 2.
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