126 from Wells to be withdrawn

First group have confirmed the 126 service from Wells to Weston super Mare will be withdrawn. The service that has run for several decades, will be withdrawn on 8 October.

Wells MP James Heappey had said he will press First Group for the numbers to show the service is loss making. He also launched a petition to save the service. All to no avail.

Earlier this year the government of which Mr Heappey’s is a member rejected Somerset County Council bid for £163m to improve rural bus services. Exactly the sort of service that the 126 is. Instead the council were granted just £11.9m.

Meanwhile residents along the route in villages such as Eaton and towns like Axbridge will be left stranded.

In villages such as Easton, which has lost its pub, shop, post office and garage it is a body blow. Without local services many villagers depend on the bus to get to places that have them.

Similarly Blue School students who live in villages like Draycott and Rodney Stoke rely on the 126 to get to school.

Speaking to The Leveller, Somerset County Council’s Mike Rigby said he was looking at options to help. Mr Rigby is SCC’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital. However since the deregulation of the buses in the 1980s this is not straightforward. Government has made it difficult for local councils to step in and run bus services.

Mr Rigby told us:”We are concerned about proposed cuts to the Somerset bus network by private operators. While we welcome the Government’s u-turn on its initial decision to end Covid-era support, it came too late to dissuade some operators from the cuts that they had already proposed in response to Government instructions. The 126 service provides an important service, particularly in its role connecting Somerset villages with the city of Wells. In our role filling the gaps left by commercial operators, the county council is examining how it might be able to provide a replacement service on this route. We will make an announcement on this in the next fortnighte are concerned about proposed cuts to the Somerset bus network by private operators. While we welcome the Government’s u-turn on its initial decision to end Covid-era support, it came too late to dissuade some operators from the cuts that they had already proposed in response to Government instructions. The 126 service provides an important service, particularly in its role connecting Somerset villages with the city of Wells. In our role filling the gaps left by commercial operators, the county council is examining how it might be able to provide a replacement service on this route. We will make an announcement on this in the next fortnight.”

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