Councils team up to find replacement for axed Saturday bus service

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A road sign for East Boldre
The 112 Saturday service that goes through East Boldre on its way between Hythe and Lymington will end in April

COUNCILLORS are teaming up to try to find a way of replacing a Saturday bus facing the axe from subsidy cuts.

Members of Boldre and East Boldre parish councils were due to have met on Friday to come up with ideas to help residents who use the weekend Morebus 112 service which runs through their villages on its way between Hythe and Lymington.

As reported in the A&T, Morebus’s Saturday operation will end in April after Hampshire County Council decided to cut a total £1.1m of public support for some unprofitable timetables amid ongoing reductions in central government funding.

HCC has put the annual cost of bringing back the bus at £6,500, said East Boldre parish clerk Nicola Curzon.

Councillors in Lymington and Pennington, Beaulieu, and Hythe and Dibden had rejected the idea of pooling funds amid concern there were not enough users to justify the expense.

Instead, Boldre and East Boldre parish councils are looking at options including expanding the dial-a-ride Cango community bus service or subsidising a taxi share scheme.

Mrs Curzon said: “We want as councils to get together and discuss whether there might be a way forward to offer something on a Saturday to residents who would normally use the bus.

“HCC has done a survey to see how many passengers there are and it’s not used by that many, so it’s understandable why they cut it.”

She added: “There are residents who are really dependent on it and it’s about finding something to replace it – not necessarily a whole bus just for one or two people.”

As reported in the A&T, Lymington and Pennington Town Council has agreed to pay Morebus £16,000 to reinstate the 119 Saturday service from New Milton – lost after HCC cuts in 2015 – to support the weekly market.

The subsidy cuts agreed last year by Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s Conservative cabinet member for environment and transport, included ending support for the Hythe ferry worth £154,500 over two years – which Blue Funnel managing director Lee Rayment has warned could kill the service.

Alterations to New Forest buses from April are:

  • H1/H2 Netley View-Applemore: retimed to Monday-Friday off-peak only
  • T3/T4 Totton-Cadnam: retimed to Monday-Friday off-peak only and Saturday service cancelled
  • Bluestar 6 Lymington-Southampton: morning peak journey retimed.