COUNCILLORS have agreed to look at future options for a threatened Bridport bus service after considering a petition signed by more than 2,000 people.
A petition backed by 2,225 people campaigning to save the No 47 bus from Bridport to Yeovil was considered at a meeting of Dorset County Council's environment overview committee.
Members were told the route, which also serves Beaminster, Broadwindsor and Crewkerne, provided a 'vital' service for students travelling to Yeovil College as well as people working in Yeovil.
The committee was told that the service had been run as a commercial route with the county council subsidising some journeys in the mornings and evenings.
The subsidised services were withdrawn as part of the council's overall review of its bus services in December and operator First Buses has since decided to deregister the route.
The county council has been able to fund an interim service until the end of June to ensure continuity for students until the end of the academic year but fears remain over the future of the service.
Bridport county councillor Ros Kayes said that research carried out by campaigners suggested use was far higher than the authority's figures had suggested and the route needed to be preserved for those who used it for access to education and employment.
She said: “It is very clear that a bus of this nature should be retained.”
Andy Pennington, who commutes to Yeovil from Bridport, told the committee: “This is a vital commuter bus for workers, students and job seekers.”
Group manager for Dorset Passenger Transport Jan Stevenson told the meeting that negotiations were still ongoing with Somerset County Council with regards to it contributing towards a subsidy.
She added that Yeovil College had refused to provide a subsidy towards the route.
Members agreed that a small working group of councillors and officers be set up to look at future options and try and come up with a proposal for the future of the route.
Interim director for environment Mike Harries warned that if the proposals required any extra funding then a decision would need to be made by the council's cabinet before any plans were approved.