Thought I'd get a bus to Yeovil for a hospital appointment Wednesday morning. One of the suggestions when I tried to plan my trip on travelsomerset.co.uk was leave the night before! But nowhere was there a direct bus from Curry Rivel. Oh, sorry, that's not quite true – there seems to be one a day, leaving Curry Rivel One Stop at 17.42, arriving 18.33 at Yeovil Bus Station. But don't think about a return journey – oh no, the only bus the other way is 07.00 hrs. Now forgive me if I misunderstand, but check for yourself – just click on the pdf file attached to view or download the timetable and do correct me if I'm wrong (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'd like to be.
So pretty much every journey into Yeovil now involves a change in Somerton – no, not the end of the world for most, but if your journey to work depends upon it, you can arrive – assuming all goes according to plan – at 08.44 or 10.04 or, if your shift starts at 08.00, you need to get that 17.42 bus at the One Stop and find yourself a bed for the night!
You'll be pleased to learn then that one of our Parish Councillors, Tony Greenaway, joined the Somerset Bus Partnership meeting on June 6th. The meeting was aimed as an introduction to bus issues in Somerset and to the Somerset Bus Partnership. Over 50 people from across the county attended a zoom meeting and you can find out more information about the group on its Facebook page
June 6th proved a significant day for bus users across the County, especially in Yeovil but also in Taunton, Bridgwater and Wells, as all were affected by bus cuts, chiefly by First Group and their Buses of Somerset services. You may have seen TV coverage of the bus cuts on BBC Spotlight or BBC Points West or on BBC Radio Somerset.
Somerset Bus Partnership is very concerned at the lack of consultation about these cuts, particularly with town and parish councils. They are equally concerned at the failure by both First Group and Somerset County Council to ensure that bus users were supplied with hard copy information (through printed route timetables and notices on bus stops) to ensure the many bus users who can’t or don’t access online timetables were alerted in advance to the changes. They will be taking up both these issues with the new political leadership at Somerset and with the officers too.
With the ending of Government funding of bus services in September when the Bus Recovery Grant ends, we must all be concerned that Somerset might see yet further cuts to services this Autumn.
It is therefore imperative that bus campaigners do everything they can to maximise the use of existing bus services in their towns and villages over the next few months. To that end, the Somerset Bus Partnership will be launching a Somerset Catch the Bus Week from September 3rd to the 11th (dates TBC) and your active involvement in this initiative is crucial.
Watch out for it – your Parish Council will no doubt be looking out for more information on that and once more details are available the village facebook page, Curry Rivel News and your website will be on it!
Somerset Bus Partnership also extends an invitation (plea even!) for you to get more involved with its bus campaigning ... it certainly needs people to campaign locally but also, if you feel you can contribute by joining the central team, do please make contact to meet and discuss. Somerset Bus Partnership needs to strengthen its leadership team in each of its Districts, as well as needing people with design, admin and online skills to help handle the workload. They tell us that any help would be appreciated!
Bus services across Somerset have seen a sharp decline over the past 12 years hit by cuts to support for existing services by Somerset County Council. Furthermore, because of the reduced bus patronage post the Covid lockdowns and the recent escalating fuel and staff costs for bus operators, bus services are under great threat again. Bus use in Somerset is currently around the mid 60% of pre Covid level of use.
There has never been a more important time therefore to be campaigning for the maintenance of our County’s bus services ... at the very least, please make your County Councillor aware of your concerns about the threats to our bus services in Somerset. If you do feel inspired to make your views heard, please copy any email to email@example.com