A much-missed bus service that disappeared when council funding dried up has been brought back to life by Dorset Community Transport (DCT).
Bus service 88 stopped running after Dorset County Council withdrew its funding for many local bus services, following a review of public transport. But DCT stepped in with a solution, supported by Wimborne Minster Town Council, Wimborne BID and Colehill Parish Council.
The new community bus service for Wimborne Minster, Colehill, Pamphill and Sturminster Marshall was launched this month and will run on Thurdays and Fridays.
Tim Christian, General Manager at DCT, said: "We are delighted to have helped provide this much-valued service, considered vital by so many local residents and greatly missed since its withdrawal.
"Without a subsidy from Dorset County Council, bus operators were unlikely to continue running services that were not commercially viable. But that is where community transport organisations like DCT can step in and help fill the gaps.
DCT – known to many as the "little green bus" – is a not-for-profit organisation established in Dorset in 2011, and operates a fleet of minibuses across the county. It runs three other local bus services, and a number of PlusBus services, through which registered members in villages that lack public transport can book a return journey to town for a flat rate return fare.
Tim Christian added: "Local bus services are a 'lifeline' for local residents, who often have no other means of getting into town, or reason to leave their homes. Without the bus services, and with no local facilities, residents would feel cut off from doctors' surgeries, shops and social contact with friends. Issues arising from isolation and loneliness are "far reaching", and particularly so for those living in rural villages."
A spokesperson from Coleshill Parish Council said: "Realising the importance of the service to Colehill residents, the Colehill Parish Council is pleased to be able to subsidise the return of the 88 bus on Thursdays and Fridays." While Wimborne Minster Town Mayor, Cllr Terry Wheeler commented that "The Town Council and the Wimborne BID were very pleased to subsidise this service for the benefit of local residents and are glad to hear that it is being well used."
Service 88 timetables are available from the parish offices, Wimborne Tourist Information Centre or on the charity's website www.ectcharity.co.uk (click on the Dorset link), where you will also find details on all of our PlusBus and Group Transport Services.