SOMERSET Council has secured the future of the No1 bus service.

The council has awarded a contract for the service, which runs between Yeovil and Shepton Mallet.

The agreement is with current operator South West Coaches and will offer a revised version of the service from April 15.

 The operator had given notice recently after raising concerns about the financial viability of the service and a tendering process was started. This was down to low passenger numbers.

As a result, the council has made some changes to the service. The revised service will run on a two-hour daytime frequency between the two towns. There will be a Saturday service which provides three journeys in each direction. 

Connections will be maintained for pupils at Castle Cary for onward travel to Strode College. 

School children who were using some of the variations from the main route which will cease for education, will now be served through amendments to the school contract network.  Parents will be contacted to discuss this in due course.

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council’s lead member for Transport and Digital said: “We’re really pleased we could ensure this service continued, we understand how important it is for the communities it serves. 

“This decision along with a number of other routes we have been able to support means that the money from our Government-funded Bus Service Improvement Plus pot (BSIP Plus) is now fully allocated. 

“Factoring in the £5.2m we spend on supporting 76 other routes across Somerset, I need to be clear that we do not have the capacity to support any other services at this time, or make further improvements to existing services.

"We have managed to maintain all existing subsidies this year despite unprecedented financial pressure which is really positive. 

“What I would say to residents is please support your local bus route – we need to ensure passenger numbers increase to maintain the viability of all routes. At just £2 for a single fare anywhere in Somerset currently, bus travel is incredible value.” 

Peter Fairey, operations director for South West Coaches said: “It is fantastic news that we have been able to work with Somerset Council to revitalise the No 1 service.

"This service is a huge part of our company's heritage and we have every confidence that the amendments to the timetable will benefit the communities that rely on it. We implore everyone to get behind this service and to use the bus wherever possible.”