Company hopes to save doomed bus routes
By Blackmore Vale Magazine | Friday, November 09, 2012, 11:00
A BUS company is mounting a rescue plan to try to save rural services.
Lewis Trehar, service manager for South West Coaches, is urging passengers to return questionnaires so that alternative services could be brought in where possible.
But he fears that most of the 13 services earmarked for closure within a month could not be saved because they are losing money.
Mr Trehar said: "We are looking at alternatives where possible, perhaps by running services less often and as excursions.
"I have to be careful not to fall foul of the regulations that cover bus services.
"It might mean that weekly services on market days would be reduced to a once a month service.
"The regulations also affect fares and the distance between stops.
"We have got discussions going on that might help one or two services but it's at an early stage."
The company, which has depots in Wincanton and Yeovil, announced last month that 13 services would be axed by the beginning of December.
It stated that the routes were all losing money, largely because of free bus passes used by many customers.
Mr Trehar said some buses were running with every passenger travelling for free and the partial refund by councils did not cover costs.
He added: "I know how much these services mean to so many people. Passengers got up petitions abut it.
"I have put out a questionnaire and I want as many people as possible to return them.
"When I have got the information I will do all I can to find ways of providing services where possible.
"We are listening to people and we know from our figures that the numbers of people using our buses are quite good."
He said two Weymouth services were almost certain to go but others had a 50-50 chance of survival in a reduced form if enough passengers paid fares on an excursion service basis.
The final decision would be taken by the owner of South West Coaches, Alan Graham.
Questionnaires are available from drivers, and from SturQuest in Sturminster Newton, Wincanton Town Council or the company's depots. They should be returned within the next fortnight.