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Stop-gap reprieve for axed local bus services

Somerset County Council is providing short-term funding to support Mendip buses as the commercial operator withdraws two services.

First Somerset & Avon Bus Group is withdrawing the 161 (Shepton to Frome section only), and 184 (entire route). These are Monday to Saturday services.

This would mean anyone wanting to travel between Shepton Mallet and Frome, or between Frome and Midsomer Norton would be unable to use public transport from Sunday 23rd August.

Using the existing subsidy, and subsidy savings made from commercial operators introducing some new services elsewhere, the council will be funding replacement buses on the 161 and 184 routes from Monday to Friday.

It will not be able to subsidise a Saturday service and the funding for the Monday to Friday services is being provided on an emergency interim basis, scheduled to end in May. Everything the council does, including its subsidies for buses, will be reviewed as part of its budget planning – big reductions in Government funding mean around £30million of savings are needed.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for highways said, “This interim funding will, I’m sure, be welcomed but we also have to be honest and realistic. Everything the council does is being looked at to see where savings might be made and where we can make less go further.

“Our bus subsidies will be part of that, they have to be, and there are no guarantees that it is something we will be able to continue in the long-term.”

The replacement service 162 will be provided by Frome Minibuses, the 184 by Libra Travel, both starting on 24th August.