New bus service will be ‘practical and sociable’

A round-town bus service in Bridport is to be reintroduced later this month, aiming to fulfil a public transport need and reduce social isolation.

Service 7 (Bridport Local) is due to start on 22 August and will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a six-month trial period across Bridport, West Bay, Bothenhampton, Lower Walditch, Bradpole and Allington.

First Wessex will run the service under contract to Bridport Town Council, with a £2 single/£3 return fare.  Concessionary passes can be used and, while buses will stop at all First Wessex stops, they can also be hailed along the route.

The initiative has been championed by a working group of town and parish councils, the Bridport Local Area Partnership and the Western Area Transport Action Group and is a response to the withdrawal of services previously subsidised by Dorset County Council.

Bridport Town Clerk Will Austin said that the group was keen to see the service fulfil a social function.

“The reintroduction of a Bridport circular bus service will be of practical benefit to people needing to get to and from Bridport town centre and other locations locally. We also hope it will reduce social isolation – so many people say to me that the bus used to be a sociable place where they would meet and chat, and this service will provide that opportunity.”

The trial period will show whether the service can be sustained in the long run, and concessionary pass users will be encouraged to help meet the cost.

“It’s very much a ‘use it or lose it service’” said Mr Austin.

“The working group heard from many bus pass users that they would be happy to pay a fare to help services like this one continue. As a result, we’re encouraging people to pay the fare if they can afford it. There’s absolutely no obligation, and all money collected will go directly back into funding the service.”

Timetables and route maps will be available from local outlets including Bridport’s Bus Station and Tourist Information Centre and will be circulated for display at visitor attractions and on local noticeboards.