Bus service changes ‘a blow’ to Ottery passengers

A new bus timetable which ‘substantially’ reduces services in the Ottery St Mary area comes into force from Sunday, July 31. 

Philippa Davies www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

The changes affect Stagecoach’s 4/4A/4B routes between Exeter and Axminster via Cranbrook and Honiton, which currently run between Exeter and Ottery every 30 minutes in both directions. 

Service 4 will operate between Exeter and Cranbrook only. Two new routes, 44 and 44A, will serve Honiton and Axminster.  

Service 44 will operate hourly, Monday to Saturday daytime between Exeter and Honiton via Cranbrook (London Road), Rockbeare, Marsh Green and Ottery St Mary, with some journeys also serving Gittisham.  

Service 44A will run every two hours in each direction Monday to Saturday between Exeter and Axminister, via Cranbrook (London Road), Whimple, Ottery St Mary, Honiton and Wilmington. 

The buses will also finish earlier and there will be fewer services on Sundays and public holidays. 

Jess Bailey, the county councillor for the Otter Valley, said: “The substantial reduction in bus services to Ottery St Mary and the surrounding area comes as a real blow. Not only will it cause huge problems for the many people who rely on the service but it will force people back into their cars, which flies in the face of the climate emergency.” 

In other changes affecting the wider area, service 9A will no longer serve the Seaton to Lyme Regis route, which will be covered by another operator. The 9/9A/X9 Monday to Saturday evening service between Exeter and Sidmouth will be reduced from hourly to every 90 minutes, and the evening service between Sidmouth and Sidbury will be withdrawn. 

The changes are part of a Devon-wide review of Stagecoach’s services which aims to ‘provide a sustainable bus network now, so that we can grow services over the long term.’ 

Regional managing director Mike Watson said: “In addition to this, with the current nationwide shortage of bus drivers, we need to concentrate our resource on the services where demand is greatest to ensure that vital journeys and connections are maintained and to provide a network that best meets the changing needs of the communities we serve. 

“We will be working together with national and local government to attract more people out of their cars and onto more sustainable public transport. The more people who switch to bus, the stronger our networks will be.”