A DORCHESTER taxi firm will put on a special bus shuttle service between Martinstown and Dorchester to help residents affected by the withdrawal of the 31 service.
Residents of Martinstown have been incensed at the withdrawal of the 31 bus by First Dorset, which now sees the bus renamed to the X31 and travel through the village twice a day instead of hourly.
More than 200 people turned out to protest the changes last month, which was also attended by local MP Oliver Letwin.
Now, Dorchester taxi company A-Line Taxis will put on a special service between Martinstown and Dorchester on a Monday and Friday.
Charlotte White, the owner of A-Line Taxis, said: “One of our drivers has been speaking to one of our long-term customers and they had been complaining about the bus cuts.
“She has been talking with the local residents and they all came to the conclusion that a service at these times would be beneficial.”
The shuttle service will be an eight-seater minibus and will collect people from Martinstown Village Hall at 10.15am on Mondays and Fridays, take them to Dorchester and drop them off by the firm’s headquarters on Trinity Street.
It will then take people back to Martinstown at 1pm and 2.45pm. The company will charge £1.50 each way and seats will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
Mrs White said the company was trialling the service without any local government subsidy, but would only continue to provide the service as long as the demand was there.
She added: “It is a massive local issue, gaining support from Oliver Letwin MP, so we are just trying to help out any way we can.
“This is a trail run so we will see how it goes. If the demand from the people of Martinstown is there to use it, we will then look to expand the service. But if the demand is not there during the trial we will stop it.”
Jon Walker, from Martinstown, set up the online petition against the bus cuts which has attracted more than 400 signatures.
He said: “I think it’s a good idea that the firm will put on this service. It sounds like a good idea and it’s a very nice gesture from the taxi company to put this on.
“The fare is infinitely cheaper than hiring a taxi for one person which is reasonable from them and it just shows that the villagers and others are not going down without a fight when it comes to losing the 31.”