EDF Energy has agreed to fund a free community bus service from Bridgwater to Minehead.
The service, which launched today (Monday 6 February), fills some of the gap left when the Webberbus ceased to trade late last year and has followed lengthy discussions between EDF Energy, local communities and local bus companies.
The service will run during the day, Monday to Friday, calling at Blue Anchor, Doniford, Kilve, Holford, Stogursey, Nether Stowey and Combwich; initially for 12 months.
The service will be operated by Somerset Passenger Solutions (SPS), the Hinkley Point C bus provider.
Somerset County Council’s transport team has been helping liaise between partners and communities to develop the new service.
Councillor David Fothergill, cabinet member for highways said: “This is exactly the kind of partnership working and creative thinking that we need to solve some of the rural transport issues we face.
“The loss of Webberbus has been a real challenge and we simply do not have the money to step in and subsidise services. This new service is the result of a lot of discussion between many parties and I’m delighted that our transport staff have played a role in making it happen.
“We have worked hard with EDF Energy and other local bus operators to ensure that this route does not impact on the viability of other local bus routes. In order to maintain the stability and sustainability of the bus network in West Somerset passengers will only be able to get on the free bus in locations where there are no alternative commercial services. We are grateful for the co-operation of all involved.”
David Eccles, head of stakeholder engagement for EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C, said: “It’s a real pleasure to be providing this new bus service which will make a big difference to the lives of local people.
"Delivering tangible opportunities for people across Sedgemoor and West Somerset is a real priority for the Hinkley Point C team and it’s great to see this bus project move from the drawing board and onto the road.”
Jo Pavely, contract and operations director for SPS, said: "We are very pleased that EDF Energy is able to support this valuable community bus link, and as the provider of all transport services to EDF Energy for the construction of Hinkley Point C, Somerset Passenger Solutions is delighted to operate the service"
There will be three buses from Minehead to Bridgwater, leaving Minehead at 10am, 11.30am and 1pm.
The service will also feature three buses from Bridgwater to Minehead, which will leave Bridgwater at 10am, 11.30am and 1pm.
If bus passengers have any travel questions, the Bus Service helpline 01278 557 001 is available.