A SHAKE-up of bus services in Weymouth has angered communities.
Residents in Upwey have been ‘left in the lurch’ after the First bus company suddenly re-routed its evening services away from the northern half of Dorchester Road – bypassing their community.
Evening services to Preston and Chickerell have also been slashed apparently without warning, leaving passengers without a late-night connection to and from town during the winter.
The re-routing of service 31 which used to serve Upwey at night means the area no longer has a bus link with Weymouth town or Dorchester after 6.30pm.
Passengers who relied on it for work and leisure are outraged it was changed without consultation.
A meeting is being called by resident Mary Ann Carson to discuss the issue at the Royal Standard pub on Dorchester Road at 1pm on Saturday.
People affected by the cuts are invited to attend to help launch a campaign urging First to think again.
Miss Carson said: “Service 10 to Dorchester comes through Upwey but it stops in the early evening and on Sundays it is even earlier.
“Later in the evening we relied on service 31 to Bridport which diverted through Upwey so we had a few buses in each direction up until 10.55pm.
“Now without a word First has changed the route of the 31 so it now goes up Weymouth relief road and we are missed.
“This is affecting people’s lives.
“It’s good to have the peace and quiet in Upwey now the relief road has been built but we still need to get here. We’ve been left in the lurch.”
County councillor Andy Cooke called on First to look at the ‘social impact’ its decision had on the community, and said locals had been ‘seriously disadvantaged.’ Evening services on routes 8 and 4 to Chickerell and Preston used to be subsidised by the county council but First has decided to run a reduced service in the winter without financial support.
Borough councillor for Preston Ian Bruce called on the firm to reinstate its later services without subsidy ‘in the interests of all’. Coun Bruce said: “We are no longer getting a proper bus service and this changes the quality of life for residents who have been loyal customers.”
Coun Bruce said the cuts would do ‘more harm than good’ because people’s habits would change, leading to a reduction in bus use generally.
County councillor for Preston Brian Ellis said cutting services after the Olympics when people were encouraged to drive less ‘flies in the face of logic’.
He added: “This is a route I campaigned for years ago. First has now negotiated a contract reduction but it appears the public were not informed. I am trying to get answers at County Hall.”
In Chickerell where the village has lost the last two buses in the evening, town, district and county councillor Ian Gardner is gathering information about bus usage and would like to hear from locals affected by the change.