Bus It for ‘Less than a latte’ is the message from Somerset Council as it kicks-off a campaign to drive up passenger numbers on four key bus routes. The campaign is being launched with news that the £2 countywide fare for any single journey is set to continue to December 2024 thanks to continued Government support announced this week.
The latest round of the ‘Bus It’ campaign – supported by bus passenger group the Somerset Bus Partnership, aims to support four at risk First Bus South routes serving Taunton, Yeovil, Minehead, Dulverton and Wincanton. Working with the bus operator, Somerset Council will be targeting communities along the at-risk routes, raising awareness of the services and highlighting the affordability of bus travel and the many other upsides of leaving the car at home.
Any single bus fare in the county still costs just £2 thanks to ongoing Government support – less than the price of latte from most high street coffee shops. Figures show that bus use has increased by 32 per cent across the county between January and June 2023 thanks to initiatives such as fare capping. The Council has stepped in to subsidise the struggling 54, 58/58a, 25 and 28 services until the end of March 2024.
But, in the face of massive budget pressures, it cannot commit to supporting the service from April. Unless passenger numbers rise significantly and the services become financially viable for First Bus South, which operates Buses of Somerset, the at-risk services might be reduced or stopped completely. The following services (relevant to Milborne Port) require additional financial support, which the Council can only provide temporarily thanks to the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding (BSIP Plus):
54 Yeovil to Taunton
58/58a Yeovil to Wincanton
First Bus South has signalled it will review the routes before the funding ends next year, taking into account new data on passenger uptake.