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Passengers left stunned as buses axed

By Western Gazette - Crewkerne  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

PUBLIC OUTCRY: The news that South West Coaches is to axe 13 of its local services in the next six weeks, including the popular 28 from Templecombe to Salisbury, via Wincanton, has been met with huge disappointment by local residents. Picture by Laura Jones

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A SUDDEN slashing of bus services in the Wincanton and Castle Cary areas has left passengers "dumbfounded".

South West Coaches is axing 13 of its regular local services within the next six weeks.

Among those to be scrapped is the number 28 from Templecombe to Salisbury, which passes through Wincanton.

The 109 from Wincanton to Dorchester and 32 from Castle Cary to Salisbury are also getting the chop.

Brenda Markey, of Wincanton, regularly uses the number 28 service and was stunned to hear the news.

She said: "I was dumbfounded when I heard. I just went to catch the bus and saw the notice.

"I know some buses don't have many people on them, but the number 28 to Salisbury regularly has around 40 people on board.

"We wouldn't mind paying for the bus to continue – we understand that South West Coaches can't keep running them at a loss – but they should at least try and keep the more popular ones. We have used the buses for a long time.

"It all came completely out of the blue and everyone is really upset. We just didn't see it coming."

The number 28 service, which also passes through Horsington, North Cheriton, South Cheriton and Mere, runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays to take passengers to the markets in Salisbury.

Brian Chambers, of Horsington, stopped driving five years ago and is one of the service's most regular passengers. He believes it will be the elderly and disabled who suffer most from the cuts.

Mr Chambers said: "It is something I use very regularly and it is a facility I am going to miss.

"Some people who live out in the countryside can't get to Wincanton or Yeovil very easily.

"With the soaring price of trains and petrol, times have never been harder, and this is another bit of bad news which we didn't need.

"People say they are trying to get more people onto buses and out of their cars, but this completely contradicts that."

Lewis Trahar, service manager at South West Coaches, said the "difficult decision" was made due to increasing costs and a cut in fare subsidies by Somerset County Council.

He said: "There are two factors contributing to this.

"They are the reduction in the concessionary rate contribution we receive for carrying pensioners with a free bus pass plus the reduction in fuel duty relief from the Government.

"The vast majority of passengers on these routes are those with a bus pass so, as a result of the cuts, we have seen our revenue decline and our costs rise.

"We realise the difficulty it will cause many of our passengers.

"It is not a decision we wanted to take."

A Somerset County Council spokesman said it would not comment as the decision was a commercial one made by South West Coaches.

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  • siarad2  |  October 19 2012, 12:45PM

    You naughty people owning cars, we are going to tax, tax, tax you until you stop using them. Oops! the alternative has been killed off, never mind there's always the dole which naturally we'll have to reduce due to rising national debt. Non joined-up thinking you know it makes sense.

  • AGPCUK  |  October 19 2012, 9:18AM

    The more bus companies who take this action due to alleged lack of funding by UK Government will have a disastrous effect on the economy especially in fragile rural areas. Cameron keeps saying he wants to GIVE 12 Billion pounds of our Taxpayers Money for so-called Foreign Aid he must give priority to his own country first. This whole FREE Bus pass service is alleged to be costing just 1 Billion pounds so how come citizens of the UK come last? For every £1 to go out and £1 to get home most will spend at least £5 on drinks such as coffee tea and cakes etc. Most users of the passes will spend well in excess of this on shopping etc. Should the 'Free Bus Passes' be stopped the effects of lost revue streams to both the Government and the retail sector would be catastrophic especially in this financial crisis. Perhaps the Bankers after receiving so much bad publicity (such as excessively high Bonuses) when the pubic are struggling to survive after catastrophic loses in the Banking Sectors should consider investing into the FREE BUS PASS Systems as the Banking Sector does already in Guernsey. After all for a relatively small investment you would boost retail shopping for a start which feeds back to the Banks, just a thought. Especially as it was the public who have bailed the 'Banks Out', surely one good turn deserves another? Read my full report titled "FREE BUS PASSES BOOST THE ECONOMY!, @ http://tinyurl.com/6zq4fbx Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk