Four bus services in the county are to be subsidised by Somerset Council to safeguard their future until spring.
The Council is stepping in to ensure bus services with low passenger numbers can continue as they are until the end of March.
The following services all require additional financial support, which the Council can provide temporarily thanks to the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding (BSIP Plus).
- 54 Yeovil to Taunton
- 58/58a Yeovil to Wincanton
- 25 Taunton to Dulverton
- 28 Taunton to Minehead
Somerset Council will be working with bus operator First South to encourage more passengers to use the routes as part of its ongoing Bus It campaign, with the aim of making the routes financially viable. First South has signalled it will review the routes later in the year, taking into account new data on passenger uptake.
Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital, Councillor Mike Rigby, said:
We want to get the message to people that using the bus for commuting or leisure can save you money and hassle – the 54 is your service from Yeovil to Taunton, and it costs just £2 each way. That’s incredible value when you compare making the same journey by car – think of the savings you could make just by using it a couple of days a week.
All these routes link key towns and many village communities in between, but simply not enough people are using them. Unless more people bus it, it is unlikely any commercial operator will be able to run these services without subsidy.
The unfortunate reality is that in the current financial climate the council will not be able to subsidise them indefinitely and that inevitably means people need to use their buses or lose them.
We’ve shown we can get more people onto buses on key routes if we get the message out there, and that is what we will continue to do.
Whether you’re heading to Minehead for a day, commuting from Watchet to Taunton or travelling from Yeovil to Wincanton, it has to be worth your while to think about the savings you can make, and the convenience of not having to use your car.
It’s close to a 50-mile round trip from Taunton to Minehead for just £4 on the 28. What else can you buy for £4 these days that offers that kind of value?
We’ll be drumming home that message over the coming months and trying to persuade more people to Bus It on these routes and across Somerset.
Somerset Council and the Somerset Bus Partnership launched the ‘Bus It’ campaign last summer to try and encourage more people to ‘Bus It’. You can find out more about it here, along with the various initiatives: Bus it – You know it makes sense (somerset.gov.uk).
Figures show that bus use has increased by 14 per cent across the county in the last year and 24 per cent in Taunton thanks to initiatives such as fare capping and the Bus It campaign.
To plan your journey on these and all Somerset bus routes visit our Think Travel portal: Think Travel : Homepage.
Roads Minister, Richard Holden said:
People up and down the country deserve a clean, reliable, and affordable public transport system. That is why we have provided Somerset Council with over £12 million to boost and retain its bus services.
Supporting the Council to retain these vital services is fantastic for local residents, who will be able to continue get to work, attend medical appointments and visit loved ones for less and more easily.