Bridport pensioner funding Dorset’s X53 bus service

A pensioner has decided to fund his local bus service out his own pocket after a transport company axed Sundays routes through the winter.

Sam Greasley-Machin

Alan Williams, 78, previously financed First’s X53 service between Bridport and Weymouth in 2019 and has chosen to do so again.

This year, he has arranged for the service to be extended to Lyme Regis because he believes the route is ‘important’ to people who use it.

Dorset Echo: Alan Williams at Bridport bus station, picture: WATAG

The amount he has paid First has not been disclosed.

Mr Williams said: “I just want to give the community their bus service and to encourage people to use it more.

“I hope it also encourages bus companies to keep such services.”

He added: “People still need to travel on Sundays. Some people have got places to be or they have to work and don’t have cars so this service is a lifeline.”

Operator First had been running four services on Sundays but these were stopped for the winter on January 16 with the service resuming in March when the summer timetable launches.

Mr Williams opted to step up and fund the service to fill the gap out his own pocket. Two services are now running each Sunday until March.

Mr Williams said: “I have seen the regulars still using the service now as well as new people.

“Public transport in general needs to be improved to get around especially now with the train timetable changes and the issues it causes with buses.

“The company have indicated they would start running the services from the March when their summer timetable starts.”

Transport lobby group West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) welcomed the move.

WATAG chairman Bob Driscoll said: “The Sunday service X53 will continue, but reduced from four to two round trip journeys between Weymouth and Lyme Regis, as a result of Mr Alan Williams agreeing to support this service financially.

“First Wessex intended to withdraw the Sunday service last September with the introduction of the winter timetable.

“Mr Williams suggested that if they did he would support a service between Bridport and Weymouth as he did in 2019.

“Subsequently, First Wessex decided to run the four services until 16 January, when the service would cease.”

Mr Driscoll added: “I hope as many people as possible will use the service for a day out, thereby helping us prove the need for a bus service seven days a week all year round.”

A spokesperson for First said: “We can confirm a west Dorset resident funds a limited Sunday X53 service between January and March.

“We fund the service for the rest of the week and year. On the rare occasions where we are unable to run a service, we are always happy to work with members of local communities to find solutions to meet a community’s needs.’”