'It would be a disaster': Concerns bus routes could be cut in Somerset

  • Watch Louisa Britton's report here.

A number of bus routes in Somerset are at risk of being cut in a move which people who rely on the services to get to work, doctors appointments and shops say would be a 'disaster'.It comes as Somerset Council say they might not be able to continue subsidising four routes, including the 54 which travels between Yeovil and Taunton, past the end of March.

The council has been subsidising 54, 25,28 58 and 58A operated by Buses of Somerset since the autumn, but that funding is due to come to an end by April.

Linda and Mary Snelling live in Yeovil and rely on the 54 bus service which goes between the town and Taunton every two hours.

Linda told ITV News West Country: "It's much more than just a person getting on a bus to go shopping, which it's so hard to convey, especially when you can drive, you get in a car and you can just go.

"But there are a lot of people out there, elderly, disabled people who are ill, people who can't afford it. Who just don't have that luxury."

Bus users say they would be badly impacted if the bus routes were to be cancelled. Credit: ITV News

"I lead the Yeovil Bus Users Group in Somerset Bus Partnership, and I obviously I am quite involved in trying to protect the services that we have.

"And I'm getting an awful lot of communication from really concerned people all across the route that need it to continue. It's going to impact the hospitals, people going for appointments, obviously there's a merger with Taunton and Yeovil and a lot of our services are being transferred to Taunton Musgrove and it is vital that we get that connectivity so that we can still continue to get to hospitals."

Mary, Linda's mother, has mobility issues and says she would not be able to walk far enough to get a different bus if the 54 route is cancelled.

She said: "My legs are not great so I can't walk too far. So if they take it away I'm stuck."

Somerset Council have been running the 'Bus It' campaign, trying to encourage more people to use the bus for two pounds.

Cllr Richard Wilkins, from Somerset Council, said the council had been told by Buses of Somerset that the four routes were not financially sustainable. The council then subsidised the routes from the autumn until March.

Cllr Wilkins said more people need to use the services if their future is to be secured.

He said: "These are particularly important routes for Somerset and a lot of people rely on them.

"So we will look at every opportunity but the bottom line is if we can get more people onto the bus, we can make the service sustainable, then it will keep running."

James Eustace, commercial director, First Bus South (which operates Buses of Somerset) said: “We’re currently reviewing our entire network in Somerset, which we do twice a year in line with our Enhanced Partnership agreement with Somerset Council.

"Through this period we’re working closely with Somerset Council, local councillors and bus user groups on our plans for bus services, and no decisions on the four routes currently being subsidised by the council have yet been made.”