Bus campaigners hopeful for solution after meeting

OPTIMISTIC: The bus protesters at Martinstown who want to see the 31 service restored

OPTIMISTIC: The bus protesters at Martinstown who want to see the 31 service restored

First published in News by

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to get their bus service reinstated are hopeful of a solution after meeting transport managers.

A decision by the First bus firm to reroute its popular service 31 Weymouth to Bridport bus away from communities near Dorchester has incensed villagers who rely on public transport.

The bus now goes through Martinstown and the Winterbourne Valley twice a day instead of hourly and runs between Bridport and Dorchester only, instead of going on to Weymouth. First said it was to improve the reliability of the service.

A demonstration was held in Martinstown earlier this year which saw more than 200 people support a protest against the changes.

Residents have to walk two miles to the nearest bus stop on the A35, or travel by car or taxi now the service is cut. Villagers hope First will listen to their concerns and run more buses through the area again.

Members representing the Winterbourne Valley 31 Bus Committee secured a meeting with representatives of First including Marc Reddy, Managing Director of First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, and Simon Newport, General Manager, Wessex.

Committee chairman Keith Howat said: “First Group has now promised to look at various options and try to come up with some possible solutions.

“It is the continued aim of the committee to see a full reinstatement of service 31 and we look forward to a continuing dialogue with First Group.”

Service 31 is a commercial service rather than a subsidised route but First said it hopes to secure funding in order to run more buses via Martinstown.

Dorset County Council, which made cuts to its bus subsidy budget last year, says it is up to First if it wants to make changes.

A First bus spokesman said: “We will continue to try and work with residents of Martinstown to find a solution that is achievable and meets the community needs.

“We have discussed a number of options for bus services along this corridor including the opportunity of additional journeys.

“In order to proceed with these however we need to work with local authority partners to help fund these journeys. We hope that through working together with the local authority we can reach a satisfactory solution.”

A DCC spokesman said: “The X31 is a commercial bus service run by First and is not subsidised by Dorset County Council.

“Our passenger transport team regularly meets with First and have made some suggestions on how they could improve services to Winterborne Steepleton and Martinstown. However, it is down to First to decide if they wish to make any changes.”

Comments (7)

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7:48am Tue 15 Jul 14

Rocksalt says...

The number of protestors is irrelevant. What counts is the number of people of use the bus. None of the reports I have read have provided this information.
The number of protestors is irrelevant. What counts is the number of people of use the bus. None of the reports I have read have provided this information. Rocksalt
  • Score: 5

7:52am Tue 15 Jul 14

arlbergbahn says...

Trouble is, the road thru Martinstown is really not suitable for double deckers (or any large buses at all), it's really only suitable for small vehicles, perhaps a connecting service to Dorchester would be more suitable. Perhaps they could make some arrangement with Damory under contract?
Trouble is, the road thru Martinstown is really not suitable for double deckers (or any large buses at all), it's really only suitable for small vehicles, perhaps a connecting service to Dorchester would be more suitable. Perhaps they could make some arrangement with Damory under contract? arlbergbahn
  • Score: 1

10:53am Tue 15 Jul 14

dorsetdog says...

arlbergbahn wrote:
Trouble is, the road thru Martinstown is really not suitable for double deckers (or any large buses at all), it's really only suitable for small vehicles, perhaps a connecting service to Dorchester would be more suitable. Perhaps they could make some arrangement with Damory under contract?
Thats strange! Double deckers have been going through there for years with no probs until the arrival of the Dennis Darts. The only thing I would say is that First needs to adjust their timings so that two dont pass in the narrowest section of the route.
[quote][p][bold]arlbergbahn[/bold] wrote: Trouble is, the road thru Martinstown is really not suitable for double deckers (or any large buses at all), it's really only suitable for small vehicles, perhaps a connecting service to Dorchester would be more suitable. Perhaps they could make some arrangement with Damory under contract?[/p][/quote]Thats strange! Double deckers have been going through there for years with no probs until the arrival of the Dennis Darts. The only thing I would say is that First needs to adjust their timings so that two dont pass in the narrowest section of the route. dorsetdog
  • Score: 4

2:29pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Dorset Guy1 says...

First have only used double decks since 2005 and they are actually shorter than the earlier single decks and still had to pass All timings are to meet trains so little room for manoeuvre.
And yes it user numbers that matter not number of protesters. Maybe the Parish Council could offer a subsidy or tick the maximum increase in Council Tax box on the current consultation inside the DCC Newspaper just delivered?
First have only used double decks since 2005 and they are actually shorter than the earlier single decks and still had to pass All timings are to meet trains so little room for manoeuvre. And yes it user numbers that matter not number of protesters. Maybe the Parish Council could offer a subsidy or tick the maximum increase in Council Tax box on the current consultation inside the DCC Newspaper just delivered? Dorset Guy1
  • Score: 1

4:21pm Tue 15 Jul 14

westbaywonder says...

What happened to the mini-bus taxi firm that got involved in this?
What happened to the mini-bus taxi firm that got involved in this? westbaywonder
  • Score: 1

4:42pm Tue 15 Jul 14

dorsetdog says...

I remember the Bristol Lodekkas and Bristol VRs traversing the route long before 2005 The service then was run by Southern National
Route numbers were 32 and 47 if my memory serves me right.
I remember the Bristol Lodekkas and Bristol VRs traversing the route long before 2005 The service then was run by Southern National Route numbers were 32 and 47 if my memory serves me right. dorsetdog
  • Score: 2

10:24pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Fich 26 says...

Villagers already pay an additional Parish Council tax above those living in Dorchester. There is no street lighting and the village suffers the same as other places when it comes to savings such as footpath clearing or pothole repair. Although they (DCC) are quick to repair the highways.I will give them credit for that.
However, at some time First decided they could run it without a subsidy from the County Council. The County Council must have rubbed its hands in glee to see a instant saving and happily let the service go to this private contractor. No prper conditional contract was put in place and it seems that First Group have the oprion to cut and change at will its services providing they have communicated their intent to the Traffic Commisioner.
What they have failed to take on board is the effect this has on those who have no other form of transport. Yes numbers do count but those with a Government bus pass dont get included as a full fare, This distorts the figures in itself. There was no discussion offered before the cut in service and no thought about how people would be able to travel without the daytime service. For the record the double decker is used because the 31 route is long, some 35 miles in its length and this bus serves as a school bus for part of the journey. The service is profitable and can easily offset the small numbers using it within the villages. Its more about timing to meet the trains. The fact that they seem to think the A35 is a quicker option than going through the villages is illogical as those of who live in the area know full well how bad this road can be affected with traffic delays. The saving quoted is six minutes. Come on First Group, for the sake of 6 minutes which actually is pretty irrelevant now that there are two trains an hour of which your passengers can catch either, give them some better service during the daytime as you seem to have managed pretty well without a cash handout for the last three years until now. As for Dorset County Council, well they have a LTP (Local Transport Plan) singing the praises of greener transport and leave the car at home philosophies. How the heck are the villagers supposed to do that now the bus service has been stopped?
Its about time one of them took responsibility for this mess and stepped in to assist those who need to get into town but can ill afford expensive taxi options. This service is socially necessary to the villagers of both Martinstown and Winterbourne Steepleton and its a disgrace that they cannot sort some better daytime services than at 07.30 hrs in the morning and around 17.20 in the evening which is absolutely no good to those elderly folk who no longer work or can afford alternative transport.
Villagers already pay an additional Parish Council tax above those living in Dorchester. There is no street lighting and the village suffers the same as other places when it comes to savings such as footpath clearing or pothole repair. Although they (DCC) are quick to repair the highways.I will give them credit for that. However, at some time First decided they could run it without a subsidy from the County Council. The County Council must have rubbed its hands in glee to see a instant saving and happily let the service go to this private contractor. No prper conditional contract was put in place and it seems that First Group have the oprion to cut and change at will its services providing they have communicated their intent to the Traffic Commisioner. What they have failed to take on board is the effect this has on those who have no other form of transport. Yes numbers do count but those with a Government bus pass dont get included as a full fare, This distorts the figures in itself. There was no discussion offered before the cut in service and no thought about how people would be able to travel without the daytime service. For the record the double decker is used because the 31 route is long, some 35 miles in its length and this bus serves as a school bus for part of the journey. The service is profitable and can easily offset the small numbers using it within the villages. Its more about timing to meet the trains. The fact that they seem to think the A35 is a quicker option than going through the villages is illogical as those of who live in the area know full well how bad this road can be affected with traffic delays. The saving quoted is six minutes. Come on First Group, for the sake of 6 minutes which actually is pretty irrelevant now that there are two trains an hour of which your passengers can catch either, give them some better service during the daytime as you seem to have managed pretty well without a cash handout for the last three years until now. As for Dorset County Council, well they have a LTP (Local Transport Plan) singing the praises of greener transport and leave the car at home philosophies. How the heck are the villagers supposed to do that now the bus service has been stopped? Its about time one of them took responsibility for this mess and stepped in to assist those who need to get into town but can ill afford expensive taxi options. This service is socially necessary to the villagers of both Martinstown and Winterbourne Steepleton and its a disgrace that they cannot sort some better daytime services than at 07.30 hrs in the morning and around 17.20 in the evening which is absolutely no good to those elderly folk who no longer work or can afford alternative transport. Fich 26
  • Score: 0

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