Bus company axes lifeline services
SOUTH West Coaches is axing 13 rural services from the end of November.
Operations director Peter Fairey said the company was losing money on the routes in Dorset and Somerset and into Wiltshire.
He blamed the high cost of fuel and the low return received for concessionary bus passes for making the services uneconomic.
He said: "We have been running at a loss for a long time.
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"We can't carry on losing money every time the services run."
The services aimed to use vehicles and drivers in between morning and afternoon school bus runs.
He said no jobs would be lost.
South West Coaches, which has its head office at Wincanton, receives no subsidies from councils for the services.
Mr Fairey added: "We would be happy to talk to anyone to see if anything can be done to save any of these services.
"I know they are a lifeline for many people."
Brian Chambers, 80, of Horsington said he was sad to see the service 28 Templecombe to Salisbury end.
He said: "I had to give up driving several years ago and I like to use the bus every week to go to Salisbury market.
"A lot of people will be badly affected by the loss of these services.
"These routes run through the constituencies of five MPs. I hope they will try to sort something out.
"Passengers were saying they want to do something about it but it all comes down to money in the end."
The services include the number 3 Gillingham to Yeovil, 7 Sherborne to Poole, 15 Sherborne to Salisbury, 28 Templecombe to Salisbury, 30 Wincanton to Poole, 32 Castle Cary to Salisbury, 36 Gillingham to Yeovil, 74 Yeovil to Sherborne, 109 Wincanton to Dorchester, 117 Wincanton to Sturminster Newton, 202 Chard to Dorchester, 205 Portland to Weymouth and 207 Weymouth town.
Some run only one day a week and others five days a week.
Terry Spracklen, public transport team leader at Dorset County Council, said: "It is a shame that South West Coaches isn't able to carry on with these routes.
"Our budget for subsidising local bus services is already fully committed.
"However, we will talk to our partner operators to see if any of our existing contracted routes could be modified to cover any of the affected areas."