BUS user Douglas Shakery is incensed after discovering he will now be charged for taking one of his favourite journeys from Weymouth to Portland.

Mr Shakery and his wife Jean have been using their concessionary bus passes to travel on the 501 service from Weymouth seafront to Portland Bill free of charge for the last four years.

But a new price hike by First Bus will mean the couple has to pay £7 to make the same journey as of this summer.

Former Labour club barman Mr Shakery, 65, of Charles Street, Weymouth, said: “I found a leaflet at the information centre at Weymouth Pavilion saying the 501 service, which only runs in the summer months, will now be charged.

“The prices are £5 for an adult or £3.50 for children and senior citizens.

“It’s out of order because it’s a busy service and I want to know why they’ve done it.”

He added: “I’m worried this will be a precedent for the bus company to do this with other services.

“My wife and I are senior citizens now and to get a taxi up there would cost God knows how much.

“It’s been a free service since I’ve been an old age pensioner.

“This bus is always pretty busy in the summer so they must be getting their money for it from visitors.”

Coun Ray Banham, who represents Melcombe Regis, added: “I also disagree with the price increase.

“I feel as strongly as Mr Shakery that the bus pass concession should still apply on this service.”

A First Bus spokesman said: “On April 1, 2009, the rules about the services on which you can use your bus pass were clarified.

“You can use your bus pass on all local bus services in England but, as a general rule, not on some types of non-standard service.

“These include services where most seats can be reserved, such as coaches, temporary services running for less than six weeks, such as shuttle buses to special events, tourist services or services on vehicles of historical interest, such as open-top bus tours, rail replacement services and services where ‘extras’ like refreshments or car parking are included in the fare.

“Service 501 is deemed a tourist, open-top bus service and so concessionary pass holders are not entitled to free travel on it.

“They are, however, able to travel at a reduced rate.

“The open top bus service in Weymouth starts again this weekend.

“At £3.50 for concessionary users, it still represents good value for money and an excellent way to see the local area.”

The spokesman also recommended that anyone wishing to find out more should visit www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/southwest/dorset/service_changes