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Town bus service reinstated thanks to council

A NEW five-day-a-week Lyme Regis town bus service will be back on the road from September.

Town bus

Lyme Regis Town Council has announced it will fully fund a replacement town bus after the 71 service was scrapped in July.

Dorset County Council withdrew its funding of the 71 bus in the latest round of funding cuts to its public and schools’ transport budget.

The town council stepped in to provide a short-term solution for the summer, with Dorset Community Transport providing a ring and ride service for two days a week.

The council has been looking at options to replace it with a more permanent service and has this week announced a new partnership with Damory Go South Coast.

The ring and ride service will end on 1 September and will be replaced on 4 September by the new service, which will continue to be called service 71.

A special meeting of the town council was held to urgently agree the new service and ensure there was public transport in place for those who rely on it most.

Councillors have agreed to fund a town bus for three years in the first instance.

The bus will run Monday to Friday, including school holidays, using the same stops and running to the same timetable as the previous service 71.

Richard Doney, vice-chairman of the town council’s Tourism, Community and Publicity Committee, said: “An awful lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make this possible. Reinstating the town bus service will bring back a vital local service, funded locally for the benefit of local residents and others.

“I’m delighted the council has been able to make this possible and look forward to the service commencing on 4 September.”

As before, Damory will operate a modern 35-seat low-floor bus and concessionary bus passes will be accepted.

The service has been made possible because Damory won a contract to provide a school bus service to Charmouth, which means a bus and driver are available in the Lyme Regis area.

Damory’s managing director, Andrew Wickham, said: “We are delighted to be working with support from Lyme Regis Town Council to reinstate the 71 bus service. 

“Operating Monday to Friday, this is an important route for many of the town’s residents and visitors, and we look forward to welcoming all on board from Monday 4 September.”

The council is urging residents and visitors to use the bus as much as possible to ensure it continues to operate in the future.

Cllr Doney said:  “We’ve all heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it’, and I would encourage people to make good use of the service to ensure its longer term sustainability.

“It will be a new administration when the contract comes up for renewal and they might have different financial priorities and pressures.

“A healthy 'ridership' would strengthen the argument for continuation beyond the initial three years.”