Many Wincanton and Somerton buses will no longer run after Somerset County Council cut £3.6 million – half the County’s bus budget – from subsidies as part of its economy drive.
As a consequence, First, will stop or curtail many of its services from Sunday, April 17. Among services being totally withdrawn is the 901 Wells to Wincanton via Shepton Mallet and Castle Cary Station.
The 58 Yeovil to Wincanton evenings, Sundays and public holidays service will also be reduced.
Simon Cursio, commercial director of First Bristol, Somerset and Avon, said: “We have done what we can to minimise the impact of the changes, taking some risk in running some of the journeys on a commercial basis ourselves”.
This is undoubtedly bad news for bus users, although it has to be said that many buses seem to run around empty, or with just a few people in them. We also notice many “Not in Service”, which in reality could easily pick up passengers.
If Somerset County council has more than £7 million to spend on bus subsidies every year, it might be time to “Think outside the box”. Maybe empty buses trundling around the countryside are not the best solution to rural transport problems. Minibuses and taxis providing an on demand service within specified hours might be a cheaper and more efficient way forward.